By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Wendy Chambers has long been saying that tourism brings big bucks into Bowling Green. Now she has the official numbers to back that up.
Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau, reported to City Council Monday evening that Bowling Green is attracting more visitors. In 2017, BG hotels saw an increase in room rentals of 6.62 percent, with revenue up 8 percent from the previous year.
For the first time the state’s study of the economic impact from tourism gave specific numbers just for Bowling Green. According to study, tourism created:
- $110.9 million in visitor spending in the local economy.
- $30.2 million in wages.
- $12.6 million in taxes.
- 1,527 in employment – or one in every 13 jobs.
“Bowing Green is alive and well – and doing well,” Chambers said.
The study found that tourism creates jobs in Bowling Green, estimating it sustains 7.8 percent of private employment. The benefits span across various businesses, such as transportation, recreation, retail, lodging, plus food and beverage industries.
Of the counties in Northwest Ohio, Wood County ranks third of 22 counties for tourism impact. Ranking first was Lucas County, followed by Erie County in second place. Wood County racked up $504 million in visitor spending, 6,598 jobs with total wages of $139.6 million, and $63.5 million generated in tax revenue in 2017.
Recent trends in Bowling Green tourism show a growth in visitor spending from $82.1 million in 2015 to $88.1 million in 2017.
In addition to the tourism numbers, Chambers was also excited about the city’s “Best of BG: A Hometown Celebration” planned for Thursday, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at Simpson Garden Park. The event will recognize the city’s second time in the last decade of being named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns by Ohio Magazine.
“It’s a week of celebrations,” Chambers said.
The next project for the Convention & Visitors Bureau will be to work with various businesses and groups on designing a “community brand.”
“We’re pretty excited about that,” she said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards recognized Margaret Montague for her service on the city’s Human Relations Commission.
“What you have done for our Human Relations Commission is nothing short of truly outstanding,” Edwards said to Montague, who has served on the commission since 2011. “You’ve been so generous with your time.”
Montague headed the Welcome BG Task Force, which puts an emphasis on local employment opportunities for legal immigrants, the mayor said. The effort is helping to meet manpower needs by “putting out the welcome mat.”
During her time on the commission, Montague has been “impartial and compassionate” and has worked for “community harmony and well-being,” Edwards said.
In accepting her citation from the mayor, Montague said, “I have a confession.” When asked to join the commission seven years ago, she had lived internationally for so long that she had to look up exactly what the Human Relations Commission was.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve,” Montague said.
In other business, Edwards read a proclamation dedicating July as Parks and Recreation Month. He presented the proclamation to Parks and Recreation Department Director Kristin Otley and park board member Cale Hover.
The mayor praised the parks and “vast array of recreational activities” in the city.
Edwards also talked about the Town-Gown Summit planned in Bowling Green later this week. Participants are expected to number between 120 and 140.
In other business, council passed an ordinance amending the “cost basis of service” for providing fire service outside city limits. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said the change was taking into consideration the new building on the county fairgrounds, and would allow for credit for buildings that met the current fire code.
Also at the meeting, council member Daniel Gordon reported the Community Improvement Committee of council would meet Aug. 6, at 6 p.m., to continue discussions about addressing anti-discrimination in the city charter preamble.