Business

Well grounded in the arts, BG coffee shop gets national recognition

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News The one of the first events Grounds for Thought  hosted after the coffee shop’s founding 30 years ago was a concert featuring Indian music on violin and tabla. The beat has gone on ever since. Whether its art created by Wicks’ mother, Sandy, who started the shop with her husband, Jerry Wicks, or art exhibited by community artists from pre-schoolers to elders, the walls and windows have showcased the community’s creativity. Randy Bennett painting in Grounds for Thought during the 2017 Art Walk. The shop has served as a venue for musicians of all styles, from free form improvisations to bluegrass to psychedelic rock. Poets, fiction writers, and journalists have all said their piece in the place.  That support has literally spilled out into the streets — members of the Wicks family were key players in starting and nurturing the Black Swamp Arts Festival, and Laura Wicks, Kelly Wicks’ wife and shop co-owner, was one of a group of downtown female business owners who launched Firefly Nights Summer Festival series last summer. The shop sells used books as well as the newest publications by local authors. It sells used records, as well as new vinyl releases recorded in house by some of its favorite acts. That Grounds is an epicenter of the arts is well recognized locally. Now a national arts group Americans for the Arts has taken notice of what locals have long know, and honored the coffee shop with a 2019 Arts and  Business Partnership Award. The family-owned business is honored along with Nokia, Omaha Steaks, Warby Parker, and Northwestern Mutual. Previous years winners include corporate behemoths Microsoft, Hallmark, Scholastic, and Walt Disney World Resort. The Grand Ukulelists of the Black Swamp (GRUBS) perform. The award recognizes businesses “that have mutually beneficial, innovative, and sustained partnerships with the arts,” the Americans for the Arts’ announcement of this year’s winners stated. “These companies set the standard for excellence and serve as role models for others to follow.” Wicks said he was proud that Grounds was the only company from Ohio recognized this year, not to mention the smallest by far. The award is not just recognition for the coffee shop, he said. “It really speaks to all the…

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BG sees growth in manufacturers investing in robotics

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green saw growth in all of its industrial and business parks last year – with companies reporting a total of $41 million in new machinery and equipment, and another $20 million in construction. Members of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation met Wednesday to hear about the successes and struggles of growth in the city. A speed bump to some growth has been the difficulty attracting and retaining employees, according to Sue Clark, executive director of the foundation. The difficulty has led many businesses to make investments in their sites for technology that replaces the need for additional people, she said. “The labor force issues that have plagued us for the past couple of years remain,” Clark said. “It is still the number one issue on most companies’ minds.” Local businesses have tried to adapt by adjusting their pay scales, adding incentives for employees, becoming more creative in their recruiting tactics, and making their corporate cultures more attractive to young workers, she said. “We must work to change the stigma of manufacturing jobs as dirty, hard and low-paying,” Clark said. “Today’s manufacturers are clean, modern, high-tech and the pay is very competitive.” Dr. Russell Mills, associate professor of political science at Bowling Green State University, spoke at the luncheon about the “Rise of the Robots: Automation and Workforce Development.” In this region, industries have tried to combat the lack of an ample workforce with an increased reliance on robotics, he said. “Automation is a fact of life here,” Mills said. Mills also talked about the so called “brain drain,” encountered in Northwest Ohio – showing statistics of the number of people leaving here in their 20s, but then returning as they age. “We produce a lot of people with some sort of degrees,” he said, referring to the education level of the region. “The challenge is, they leave.” But Clark reported that local manufacturers are adapting, and are making efforts to attract workers. “It is a very changing world, and these companies are changing with it,” she said. Clark noted the local investments of $41 million in new equipment and machinery, and another $20 million in building additions. “That’s a huge number,” she said. Following is a…


Food trucks added to the mix at BG Farmers Market

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN It’s hard to believe Market season is almost here! Your favorite Downtown Market can’t wait for the 2019 Season to start! After a record breaking year of vendors, customers, and community support- the market is ready to bring a fun new element to the table. Last year, new food vendors were a huge hit amongst all attendees. Market guests were given a chance to refuel so they could hang out just a little longer to enjoy the festivities. Our Market Staff wants to keep that momentum going into the 2019 year by bringing an even bigger food element to the market- Food Trucks. As fate would have it, Phil Barone, President of the Food Truck Association has big hopes to bring his many trucks to the Bowling Green Community. His association provides diverse, professional and delicious options for many festivals and events in the Northwest Ohio area. It seems like a perfect timing to join our Farmers’ Market, so we can “pull our great ideas together”, said Phil. “I’m looking forward to working with Sam, Tony, and the entire Downtown BG Special Improvement District to bring a new exciting element to the market”. Director of Downtown Bowling Green S.I.D., Tony Vetter agreed with the partnership. “It just makes sense for the community, for these great organizations to come together for a successful weekly event.”  “Our market attendees and vendors spoke up last year, and we’re ready for this combo to happen,” said Market Manager, Samantha Beane. “Our market is going into its fourteenth season, and I want to work with great groups like the Food Truck Association, to keep our market exciting, fun, and the place to be on Wednesday nights!  The 2019 Market season begins May 8th and runs through October 16th, 2019. The Wednesday evening market runs from 4-7pm in the Huntington Bank Parking lot at 201 S. Main Street (on the corner of Clough & Main Street). Part of Clough Street will be blocked off for the Food trucks and the safety of those attending. Food trucks will be present at each market alongside both seasoned and new vendors. Our market will offer live music from the Stones Throw Stage, special events throughout the season and much more!!  For…


Architects institute recognizes Chris Mowen as emerging professional

From AIA Toledo In recognition of her commitment to the profession, the Toledo Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is pleased to announce that Christine Mowen, AIA, NCARB, LEED Green Associate has been named Toledo Emerging Professional of the Year for 2019. Chris graduated from Montana State University with her Masters in Architecture degree in 2009. Throughout Chris’s career, she has had the opportunity to work on a wide range of commercial and residential projects in multiple locations across the United States. Before moving to Ohio in 2017, Chris worked in small to medium sized firms in Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey, and Wyoming where she gained valuable experience, expanded her knowledge, and deepened her passion for her love of architecture. Chris successfully completed the Intern Development Program (now known as the Architectural Experience Program – AXP) and the Architectural Registration Exams (ARE) in 2017 and received her license to practice architecture in the State of Ohio in May of 2017. Her commitment to the profession of architecture is evident with her involvement in many local area non-profits. Chris is the AIA Ohio Licensing Advisor where she provides guidance and support for those navigating the AXP and ARE processes. She understands the importance of guidance and encouragement in the journey to licensure and strives to ensure new generations of young professions are mentored and advised through their process. Chris is also committed to helping young students explore opportunities in the profession by serving as an advisor of the AIA Toledo High School Design Competition. At the age of 13, Chris knew she wanted to be an architect and because of this she recognizes the significance of nurturing the love of architecture from a young age. This past year Chris has dedicated her time to volunteering as a founding Advisory Board member for the new non-profit, Preserve! Toledo. In this role she helps Preserve! Toledo work toward their mission of preserving Northwest Ohio’s built environment through education, connection, and empowerment through helping organize events, promote preservation techniques, and sharing information about the local historic infrastructure. Chris’s dedication to the profession and giving back to the community also include her time spent volunteering for the Toledo Design Center, being the Social Media Coordinator for AIA Toledo,…


BG Council votes to buy downtown property for parking, restrooms, Four Corners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council voted Monday to move ahead with buying land to create more metered parking downtown, provide restrooms for Wooster Green, and preserve the location of the Four Corners Center. Council approved an ordinance for the issuance of $890,000 in bonds for buying four parcels of land on South Church and South Main streets. “These are all things necessary to keep our downtown moving forward,” said council member Bruce Jeffers after the vote. The purchase covers four properties. One parcel is at 119 S. Church St., located just south of the police station. The former Huntington Bank Branch location has been closed for several years, but has drive-up ATM units. The city is interested in building restrooms there that will serve those using Wooster Green as well as visitors to the downtown area. In addition, the location has been eyed by the city for years as property that could be used to expand the police station. While there are no immediate plans for an expansion, the addition of an improved safety dispatch center is one of the city’s long-term capital plans. The out-of-state owner of this property recently contacted city officials to discuss the building. The landowner also owns a nearby parking area behind Ben’s and the building at 130 S. Main St. – the current home of the Four Corners Center. Four Corners downtown While city officials are not interested in owning the Four Corners Center building, they recognize the community value of that site. Located there are the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown BG, and Economic Development office. The lease for that building expires on Dec. 5, 2020. So, by acquiring the LLC that owns the building and holds the lease, the city can take ownership of the lease – ensuring no changes for the tenants. City officials then plan to sell that building prior to its lease expiring, with a provision that the Four Corners Center be given a lease arrangement for the building with a rental amount set. The cost for the mini-bank area, parking lot behind Ben’s, and building at 130 S. Main St. will be $730,000. Also being sold are the building at 123 S. Church St.,…


Annual walk gives art lovers a chance to check out local wares

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News In an effort to make it easier for visitors to check out the exhibitors in the 2019 Art Walk, the organizers turned to the library. Each of the artists of the artists who will have their work judged will display a favorite piece in the Wood County District Public Library, which will be the focal point of this year’s event. That, said Tony Vetter, executive director of Downtown Bowling Green, will give viewers a chance to look at the entire field, and then head out to find their favorite artists who will be exhibiting their wares as usual in shops throughout the downtown. That way they’ll be able to plan to get out to some of the displays on the edge of the downtown. Art Walk 2019 will be held on Saturday, April 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a reception and awards ceremony to follow in the library at 3:30 p.m.  The Bowling Green Arts Council and Downtown BG are partners in presenting Art Walk. More than 30 artists have signed up for the show. The show’s judges will base their decisions on the work exhibited in the library, Vetter said. Winners will receive cash prizes. People’s Choice Awards will also be presented. Work by artists from local schools will also be displayed in store fronts throughout the downtown. Vetter is hoping the shorter show hours mean people will have a little more energy at the end of the day to come and participate in the reception. The reception will feature grazing stations with food provided by Qdoba and Kabob-It. Pianist Mary Claire Miller, a Bowling Green State University student, will play the library’s Steinway grand. Music will be a part of Art Walk, Vetter said. This year it will be concentrated in specific venues. Local bands will play in Grumpy Dave’s, upstairs above Easy Street Cafe. Details are still being worked out for students from BGSU to perform. The changes are a way of fine tuning an event now in its 27th year. Community members have been invited to decorate metal gnomes. Seventeen of the gnomes have been distributed, and they’ve started coming back into the Downtown BG office, upstairs in the Four Corners building….


BG Chamber exploring development of a business incubator

From BOWLING GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE It is exciting to get started in a business venture that is your dream – your passion.   That excitement all too often can come to a screeching halt because of insufficient capital, poor planning or organization.  What can be done to increase the success rate of being an entrepreneur?  Business incubators are being established in many cities to change outcomes to more positive ones.    The Four Corners Center Organizations has been working on a space with Lisa Palmer at Calico Sage and Thyme to utilize as a business incubator for the Bowling Green Area – District 419.    The BGSU Economic Development Class, under the direction of Dr. Russell Mills is involved in this project as well. The next step in this process is for those entrepreneurs who may be interested in such a space to have a voice in this project.  Dr. Mills class is gathering information and have put together the following survey to understand the needs and interest of area entrepreneurs.   The deadline to participate in the survey is April 30th and is available online only at the following link:  https://bgsu.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eyzNuZLBEPqNxcx . Questions about the project can be directed to Mary Hinkelman, Executive Director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce at director@bgchamber.net or by calling 419-353-7945.