By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
As editor of Ohio Magazine, Jim Vickers is accustomed to visiting communities throughout the state. But during a recent stop in Bowling Green, Vickers was struck by three features of the city – the energy from the university even though most students were gone for the summer, the healthy downtown, and the beautiful Simpson Garden Park.
Bowling Green left such an impression, that the city was named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns by Ohio Magazine. The 12th annual Ohio’s Best Hometowns issue of the magazine recognizes four communities in addition to Bowling Green: Marietta, Milford, Mount Vernon and Wooster.
Bowling Green beat out other communities because of its vibrant college town atmosphere, strong sense of community and shared vision for the future.
“I was in Bowling Green for the site visit,” Vickers said, so he had first-hand knowledge of why the city ranked so high. “Every year we look for towns that exemplify a strong community.”
They checked out the campus. “It’s a vibrant college town, even in the summertime,” he said. “There’s an energy there.”
They went downtown. “The health of the downtown really struck us. There’s a lot of work that goes into a downtown that works.”
And they visited Simpson Garden Park. “That was a true community effort,” Vickers said. “That wouldn’t have happened without the community bonding together.”
City officials were pleased that Bowling Green was awarded the honor.
“It helps to continue and foster the community that we all know Bowling Green is. There’s a strong sense of community here,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “It’s nice to have some affirmation of all of the good work everyone does around here.”
Fawcett mentioned teamwork of the university, city school district and city government. “It takes everyone to make Bowling Green the community it is.”
This is the second time Bowling Green has been named one of the state’s best hometowns by Ohio Magazine. The last time was 10 years ago, said Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“I was so proud of showing all the things that happened in the last 10 years,” Chambers said.
The magazine representatives met with Mayor Dick Edwards, toured the Ben Franklin store downtown, talked with BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey, and learned about the creation of the Four Corners offices. They also toured the Dream Cars museum, the Wood County Historical Center and Simpson Garden Park. They learned of the Not In Our Town movement, the community action plan, and teamwork by the hospital and university.
“They got to see the best of everything,” Chambers said.
While the nod by the magazine is a boost to the city’s spirits, it’s also great advertisement for people looking for a place to put roots.
“I think this brings us to the forefront of being a great place to live, work and visit,” Chambers said.
Bowling Green and the other winning communities will now be featured in three editions of Ohio Magazine during the next year – during November, January and July. The magazine will focus on “unique places to visit and ways to enjoy each location.”
“It’s a year-long honor,” Vickers said.