John Williams, executive director of the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce, loves to use exclamation points in his Chamber Beat column. With the recent news that SAD 17 has joined the Chamber, John can be pardoned for injecting one of the avid grammarian’s favorite features.

According to Williams’ column on Page D4 in today’s Advertiser Democrat, Williams proudly points out how SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts and himself will be joining forces in an effort to jump start the district’s involvement in the Chamber and how to connect young people to the business group.

It’s a great concept, one that deserves the unbridled support of other businesses as well as educators at every level. To be sure, it is a natural fit.

“There is no doubt that it will provide countless opportunities to bring the business community and the education community closer together,” Williams writes in The Chamber Beat. “SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts and I talked about the importance of exposing students to practical business experiences right here in the greater Oxford Hills, and this is a very positive step in that direction.”

Indeed it is. But it’s more than that. It’s a coalescing of constituencies who share mutual goals and interests. Moreover, it allows both entities to benefit both in the short and long term by exposing today’s students to today’s business environments, all in the hope of forging a better tomorrow.

As towns throughout Maine work to merely stabilize their populations, here’s a case of a region seeking “ways to attract our young people back into the community, or keep them here to lead the businesses of the future that will make our region more economically viable.”

That is a noble and doable objective. Yes, many young people will be lured to the larger cities, both in Maine and throughout New England, in an attempt to better themselves by going after well-paying careers elsewhere while enjoying the less than tranquil lifestyle of Western Maine for life in the big city. But a number of really solid young people – including many at the high school and many who’ve decided to remain here since graduating – represent a pool of untapped talent that truly wants to be here. That should not be lost on anyone who discounts the viability of this community for young people.

This new partnership offers great promise for Oxford Hills businesses and the school district. It is so promising, in fact, that we’re willing to give John Williams an appropriate dose of kudos.

Way to go, John!