By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The lack of empty industrial buildings and the low unemployment rate in Bowling Green are both good qualities. But those two positives work as negatives when new companies are researching future locations for their businesses.
Bowling Green has a primary positive going for it when potential businesses scout out new sites. Its location on Interstate 75 draws a lot of attention to the city.
But the absence of available workers and the shortage of vacant industrial spaces are working against the city, according to Sue Clark, director of the Bowling Green Economic Development.
The city is getting a lot of interest from businesses, Clark told city council and administration members Saturday during a work session. And her office is working to expand the options for prospective businesses.
The city currently has four business parks:
- The largest is the Woodbridge Business Park at Dunbridge and East Poe roads on the northeast edge of Bowling Green.
- John Quinn Tech Park off Napoleon Road, near Dunbridge Road, on the southeast edge of the city.
- Bellard Business Center, which is nearly out of space, located on Brim Road between Newton and Bishop roads, on the northwest side of the city.
- Hoffman Commerce Park, also on the northwest side of the city, at the opposite corner of Newton and Brim roads.
The city has been working on an expansion of Woodbridge, purchasing more acreage and planning for a new roadway connecting the business sites to Bowling Green Road East. That is especially needed since that only public entrance and exit to the business park is currently on Dunbridge Road.
Moser Construction just built a warehouse structure in the park. And NovaVision is buying 3.9 acres for a future expansion there.
“They are a young, very aggressive, very fast-growing company,” Clark said of NovaVision.
The economy is “hot,” she said. “Companies I’m talking to now are looking for expansions everywhere.”
And Bowling Green’s location puts it on their radar. “The interest out there is tremendous, especially with the widening of I-75,” Clark said.
With the building of the new warehouse in Woodbridge, the city has become the target of businesses looking to locate logistics sites, plus some small manufacturers for non-automotive suppliers.
“It’s all across the board,” Clark said. “The more diversified we can become, the better.”
With businesses like Amazon and Walmart going into home delivery services, Bowling Green’s location is looking ever better, she said. “Logistics and warehousing are becoming huge.”
Those sites don’t generate a lot of jobs – but that is not critical for Bowling Green, Clark said. “We don’t have a lot of workforce here looking for jobs.”
The city also has very few vacant industrial buildings, she said. The former Milligan Industries, on Industrial Parkway, is the only entirely empty spot right now. “When the right person comes along, I’m sure it will be snapped up,” Clark said.
A portion of the former Lear plant is also vacant.
“That doesn’t help us market Bowling Green very well,” Clark said.
Though she usually doesn’t promote spec buildings, Clark said she is now urging spec construction.