BG looking for success in small pieces in Bellard Business Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is no longer holding out for big businesses in the Bellard Business Park. Officials are shifting gears to allow smaller businesses to build in the acreage located at the southeast corner of Brim and Bishop roads. The 23.5-acre park will now be split up into smaller lots – rather than waiting for big users. The shift will make the business park easier to market, according to Sue Clark, director of the city’s economic development commission. “I keep getting requests for one- or two-acre lots,” Clark said after the Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities meeting last week. The city still has plenty of larger lots available for manufacturers in the Woodbridge industrial park off Dunbridge Road, Clark said. “I want to save the east lots for the bigger users,” she said. The board of public utilities supported the efforts and voted Monday to split off 2.2 acres in the southwest corner of the Bellard Business Park. Clark already has a buyer for the lot. Schwind Electric Co. has agreed to pay $60,000 for the site. “It definitely would open up some opportunities for different customers,” Brian O’Connell, the city’s public utilities director, said about the shift toward smaller lots. At one time, there was a plan to construct a new city electric division facility on the north side of the Bellard park. However, there is no longer a plan to do that, O’Connell said. The property has been maintained as farmland, with the city receiving farm rent revenues. O’Connell said he supports the splitting up the Bellard park into smaller lots to accommodate smaller businesses. The recent expansion of the Woodbridge Business Park, plus the 36.9 acres the city economic development foundation owns near Brim and Newton roads, allow plenty of room for larger users, he said. The city may still reserve about four acres in the northwest corner of the Bellard park for a potential electric substation or switch yard in the future. As in the past, the city will receive $10,000 per acre from the sale to Schwind as a credit on the city’s future community development foundation dues. O’Connell said this practice helps the foundation continue its mission of economic development, job creation and electric load growth. Also at the board of public utilities meeting, the board: Heard the work on Rosalind and Donbar is dragging on, with the crews encountering a lot of rock. Learned the wastewater treatment plant had two combined sewer overflows this month. The overflows have to be reported to the Ohio EPA within four hours of occurring. Voted to purchase water meter reading equipment. Learned that the new pump station on Conneaut Avenue is up and running. Crews were hoping to get the asphalt done last week.

No such thing as free parking … somebody’s got to pay

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   One by one, the business owners and city officials took turns trying a different type of parking kiosk that promised to be easy to use, faster for patrons, and less likely to cause frustration for shoppers. The sample kiosk, presented recently by International Parking Solutions, was promoted as taking less than 10 seconds to use. But as with most technology, human error and uncertainty sometimes stretched out the time. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick, whose staff patrols the city parking lots, said the kiosks used in the lot behind Panera were “not well received.” The city and a parking task force is considering several downtown parking options – including the replacement of the current kiosks with new easier models. “You want to make it as convenient as you can,” said Michael Wilson of IPS. The new sample kiosk proved to be easier – since it allows users to pay in a variety of ways with a variety of paths to get there. Unlike the existing kiosks, this one does not send the motorist back to square one if a step is missed. “If this takes you longer than 10 seconds, it’s too long,” Wilson said. But there are some problems with the IPS kiosk. It will accept credit cards or coins – but programming it to accept dollar bills costs an extra $1,500 per kiosk. Motorists who frequent the lots can go online and register their credit card to streamline the process more. Like the current kiosks in use, the IPS model also notifies motorists on their phones of their parking time nearing expiration. The motorists can then ask for more time. “The revenue side of parking is critical to cities,” Wilson said. It’s often that money that is used to maintain city parking lots and sidewalks, he said. The average minimum parking cost in cities is $1 an hour. Anything less than $1 is not work the credit card processing, Wilson said. Costs in larger communities are much higher, like $2.75 an hour in Madison, Wisconsin, and $6.50 an hour in San Francisco, he added. Kim Thomas, owner of the H&R Block building on South Main Street, said the parking issue is more complicated than it appears. “Of course, free parking sounds wonderful,” she said. But the fact that several downtown apartment renters use city parking lots for their vehicles means that some time limits still need to be enforced so parking spots rotate for shoppers and diners. “Whatever we do, we want it enforced,” Thomas said. Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said while free parking sounds good, the time limits must be enforced. The downtown will not seem so “friendly” when motorists get $15 tickets for overstaying their time in parking spots, he said. But some store owners feel their businesses are hurt by…

Revolving loan fund helps local businesses in a pinch

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 31 years, Bowling Green has been helping businesses in a pinch for financing. The Revolving Loan Fund recently surpassed the $5 million mark in total loans made since the fund’s inception in 1987. The fund was established as a means of offering “gap finance assistance” for those businesses desiring to start up or expand. In exchange for the loan, the businesses must not only pay back the funding, but they must also create employment for people at lower income levels within Bowling Green’s corporation limits. “It’s very helpful to a lot of businesses,” said Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green Economic Development. Traditional bank loans aren’t always fast enough for the needs of local businesses. “We’re the place people can come to get working capital,” Clark said. “We’re much faster.” “And we’re willing to take a second position,” behind existing debt – which many banks will not do, she said. In the fund’s first year, three loans were issued totaling $44,481. Within the fund’s first decade, loans were issued to several businesses still operating today, like Aardvark Screen Printing & Embroidery, Pagliai’s Pizza, SamB’s and the Bowling Green Country Club Pro Shop. Since its inception, the fund has provided a total of $5,047,314 in loans to 168 local businesses. “We just happened to see there was a need,” Clark said. “There are times that we get more demands than we have money for,” she said. Those applicants are then asked to wait for the next round of funding. And some requests for funding are rejected. “We don’t turn a lot away,” Clark said. “But if I see right away that they have no experience and no collateral,” then they may not make the cut. The revolving loan fund five-member board is sensitive to the fact that it is using taxpayer money and makes conservative decisions. “We are very cautious. They really are diligent – that this person will pay us back,” Clark said. During the most recent Community Development Block Grant funding year, a total of $349,000 in loans was made to 11 local businesses. Over the years, the lowest loan amount has been $5,000; with $150,000 being the highest to date. Some of the more recent loans have been granted for the Sleek Academy, J.P. Dough, Dairy Queen and Ziggy’s. Some loans help businesses expand, fix broken machinery, or hire someone to start delivery services at an existing business. “It’s a Godsend for some,” Clark said. Some manufacturers also benefit, she said, listing Centaur Tool & Die as a past loan recipient. In most instances, at least one job must be created and offered to a person at a lower income level for every $50,000 loaned. HUD, however, has authorized the city to issue a few micro loans annually within the Special Improvement District that…

BG residents urged to shop locally at small businesses for holidays

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials suggested local resident go big and shop small. With holiday shopping season officially starting on Friday, Bowling Green officials urged local residents to spend some money with local small businesses. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards and new Downtown BG Director Tony Vetter took to the podium at the City Council meeting Monday evening to promote “Small Business Saturday” which follows this week’s “Black Friday.” The “Small Business Saturday” moniker is an annual reminder of the need to support small businesses, Edwards said. The annual shopping promotion started in 2010 in response to the recession. It was intended to help small businesses recover, Vetter said. In the U.S., 28.8 million small businesses account for 99 percent of businesses, employing more than 48 percent of American workers, the mayor said. The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become a very important day in the life of many small retailers. “It is a break even day for a lot of small businesses,” Edwards said. Downtown Bowling Green retailers are counting on local residents spending some of their holiday shopping money here. “Downtown Bowling Green is so important to our economy,” the mayor said. And Vetter noted that “Small Business Saturday” is not just about downtown and not just about this weekend. “Shop small is not just this weekend. It’s all year round,” Vetter said. Also at Monday’s meeting, City Council approved a solar project easement and lease agreement with the Wood County Commissioners and Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The city is researching the viability of building a community solar field on property owned by those two entities on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, just east of Interstate 75. Council also heard from a Bowling Green State University graduate student in public administration, who has been researching the financial history of the city in the 1970s when the city budget was very stretched. He mentioned that he has been unable to access some records, and urged council to preserve such records for safekeeping. Council President Mike Aspacher assured the student that the city complies with all record retention rules, but said council will take the request under advisement. Council members Bruce Jeffers asked the student to send council a copy of his research, and Bill Herald asked him to report back to council on his research. In other business at Monday’s meeting: Council approved the mayor’s recommendations to appoint Justin White to the city’s Human Relations Commission, and Nate Spitler to the city’s Planning Commission. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter reported that the Community Development Foundation has passed the $5 million mark for its business revolving loan fund. Council learned the downtown parking task force is continuing to meet. Planning Director Heather Sayler reported the annual Interfaith Breakfast has been scheduled for April 2, 2019. Parks…

Menards files with city for site on South Main Street

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Menards has filed paperwork with the City of Bowling Green Planning Department. The company is looking at building a store on the south end of the city – south of Walmart and across the road from Home Depot. The paperwork filed with the planning office is seeking variances from three city sign regulations, according to Heather Sayler, planning director for the city. The company, which specializes in home improvement products, has not yet applied for a zoning permit to build on the property, Sayler said. “I think they want to check off the boxes,” with getting signage variances being one of those boxes, she said. Sayler said her understanding is that the company wants to start working on the new site early in 2019 if possible. According to the paperwork filed with the city, Menards would like a sign along South Main Street that exceeds the city’s maximum height of 25 feet. Store officials will be asking for a variance allowing a 40-foot tall sign. Store officials have also asked for a variance to the city ordinance that allows up to three signs on the exterior of the building. The Zoning Board of Appeals will review the store’s requests during its meeting on Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. The application lists the owner of the property as B.G.V.H. Co., represented by Anthoni Visconsi II. Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green Community Development Foundation, said last month that Menards had been scouting out possible locations in the city. “They have been looking at the community for eight months or so,” Clark said. Initially, the company was looking at a site on East Wooster Street near the Holiday Inn Express, she said. Store officials then shifted to the location on South Main Street. “We plan to build a new store in Bowling Green, OH at some point in the near future,” Jeff Abbott, Menards spokesperson stated in an email last month. “We are still in the planning phase and have not yet finalized when we might start construction.”

Tony Vetter jumps right into leading Downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tony Vetter hit the ground running as executive director of Downtown Bowling Green. He had no choice. This, he said, is the busiest time of the year. He has to find volunteers to help spruce up the downtown for the holidays. Then there’s the holiday tree lighting, collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce on the holiday parade, and after that the kickoff to Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24. Vetter started in his new position, taking over from Mary Hinkelman, on Oct. 29. Hinkelman switched offices in the Four Corners Center to become director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. “I’m just getting up to speed.” Though Vetter has recently started, he’s familiar with the various entities that call the Four Corners Center home. As director of Destination Toledo he worked closely with Wendy Chambers who heads up the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. Though Vetter has been working in Toledo,  he’s lived in Bowling Green for the past 24 years with his wife, Cheryl, co-owner of Hagemeyer Fine Photography. Vetter said he’s always done his shopping in Bowling Green and has taken part in the various events, including the Black Swamp Arts Festival, that fill up the city’s calendar. The 26-year-old festival like the newly hatched Firefly Nights are staged by independent groups. They add to the luster of downtown, along with the lineup of events that Downtown Bowling Green presents, including Art Walk and Winterfest Chillabration.  “It’s a collaborative effort,” Vetter said. “It’s a very vibrant community. Some other cities that would give their eye teeth for what Bowling Green has.” A healthy downtown isn’t just important for the merchants and downtown businesses, but for the health of the community as a whole. A company trying to recruit new employees does not want have them see a downtown full of empty or boarded up store fronts. Downtown Bowling Green works to keep that from happening. The Special Improvement District is funded by a tax imposed on property owners. Vetter was attracted to the job in part because of the passion of the members of the Downtown BG Board. “They want what’s best for this city. That’s here their hearts are. Same with the mayor. They’re all on the same page.They want to make Bowling Green a better place.” Greg Halamay, who chairs the Downtown Bowing Green board, said that Vetter stood out from the other applicants because he offered fresh ideas. “That made the critical difference in our decision making. … That’s what our board was looking for.” Halamay said that the job posting drew a strong field of applicants, including about half from outside Bowling Green. Vetter’s ties to the community were also a plus. The historic district is small. “He displayed the desire to reach out beyond those six or eight blocks to…

BGSU student optimizing his business acumen to earn millions for clients

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Ask Donovan J. Greening to describe search-engine optimization, better known as SEO, and his eyes will light up and his explanation speeds faster than his Porsche Cayenne. When he sees your eyes glaze over in confusion, he’ll hit the brakes, slow it down and give you enough examples until you both are sharing the same road. “Did that answer your question?” He doesn’t demean; he’s sincere in wanting to share his mastery of digital marketing and what it’s done for him, what it can do for companies behind the scenes and what he hopes it can do for Bowling Green State University. Then he laughs and says, “I’m the nerdiest person ever. I’m a super geek!” Greening, 20, is an entrepreneur, consultant and full-time college student. He is the founder of Greening Corporation United, a full-service digital marketing agency he started at the age of 15 that focuses on law firm digital marketing. In 2017, he helped generate several million dollars in new cases and revenue for his clients and law firms while also helping multiple victims of mesothelioma and lung cancer find justice. A junior, he is majoring in management of information systems in the Bowling Green State University College of Business. He grew up in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and attended Brother Rice High School. While in high school, he founded two online companies. “I taught myself how to make a website based on my YouTube channel, XVSound, when I was 15,” Greening said. “I would take music artists that weren’t that cool and find cool movie clips and chop them up and make footage to kind of go along with the song, almost like mood music. That channel started to blow up and to date that channel has 3.9 million views in total and has more than 10,000 subscribers.” That positive experience got him thinking: How could he make this into a brand? The result was XVTech, which focused on web design and social media marketing. Greening quickly turned around three local clients, a juice shop, Chris Huff from P80Fitness Studio, and DJ BJ 3525 from Hot 107.5. His next client was a hydro light factory in Warren, Michigan, which sells hydroponic lighting for large indoor agricultural facilities. “I developed for them a brand-new website and an e-commerce system,” Greening said. “I also helped them map out a shipping logistics system to make their business more efficient. That business had made over $600,000 of revenue two months after launching that website. Then, I was like, OK, now I can actually make people some money.” It was about this time that Greening enrolled at BGSU, which he said was perfect because, “I wanted to get away from home, but not too far from home. And it’s a university my mother is really happy with, and only 90 minutes from home….

Tony Vetter named new director of Downtown Bowling Green

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Tony Vetter has been selected as the new Director of Downtown Bowling Green and The Downtown Foundation. He started on October 29, 2018. Downtown Bowling Green is a Special Improvement District within the downtown area. It serves the downtown as a liaison with government offices, other merchants and the media. Downtown BG strives to enhance and stabilize the economic vitality of the Central Business District through long-term improvement projects and ongoing promotional activities that benefit the community and surrounding area. Downtown Bowling Green hosts the Art Walk, Classics on Main Car Show, Farmers Market, the new Winter Market, Community Tree Lightning, Downtown Beautification, Holiday Decorations, and Holly Days along with sponsoring Firefly Nights, Fall Festival and Shop Small Business Saturday. It also supports other events promoted by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, BG Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bowling Green Economic Development (all located in the Four Corners Building) and the city of Bowling Green.  Volunteers for these events shows the strong support the community provides to Downtown Bowling Green. Working with Bowling Green State University and providing internship opportunities has benefited both organizations. Downtown Bowling Green promotes Downtown Dollars which are gift certificates that can be used just like cash in downtown businesses. It also furnishes enhanced maintenance for the downtown business district.   “Mary Hinkelman, new Executive Director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, has done an excellent job as Director of Downtown Bowling Green and I wish to continue that same level of service along with implementing new ways to serve downtown and the community”, said Tony Vetter. Tony has over 27 years in leadership, sales and marketing experience. Recently he was Director of Sales and Interim President for the Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau promoting our region to state, regional, national and international groups. Tony earned the Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation in 2016, the only integrated executive program specifically designed for the destination marketing industry. The focus of the program is on vision, leadership, productivity and the implementation of business strategies. “Tony Vetter, as CDME graduate, has been awarded the profession’s highest educational standing.” said Richard Nachazel, past President and CEO of Destination Toledo. Tony graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Journalism and Public Relations and started his own business to pay his way through college. He and his wife, Cheryl ,have lived in Bowling Green for over 24 years.  Cheryl has been a business owner in Bowling Green for over 31 years operating Hagemeyer Fine Photography with her sister Kathy Wilhelm. Tony is the son a farmer and grew up in a family of 12 near Hicksville, OH.  

Panera planning move from downtown to Big Boy site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Big Boy is moving over for bread, bagels, salads and soups. Panera Bread is planning to move from downtown Bowling Green onto the former site of Big Boy on East Wooster Street. Applications have been filed with the city engineer’s office for demolition of the Big Boy restaurant, and with the city planning office for a drive-thru at the new site. A building permit request for a new Panera restaurant was approved earlier this month by the Wood County Building Inspection Office. The new building will have 4,413 square feet of space. For 17 years, Panera has been serving downtown diners in Bowling Green. The move to East Wooster Street will give the restaurant better access to I-75 travelers, students on the BGSU campus, and ample parking. The move will leave a big hole in the downtown, but Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Hinkelman was looking at the bright side. “I don’t think it will stay empty long,” she said of the possibilities to fill the South Main storefront. Floyd Craft, owner of the building housing Panera, said he had heard some rumblings about the restaurant moving. Over the years, the business has expressed its desire to have a drive-thru for customers. “I haven’t heard anything official from them,” he said. And he suspects that the move won’t be very soon since a new restaurant will have to be constructed, and Panera renewed its lease two and a half years ago for the current site until 2021. Craft agreed that filling the spot shouldn’t be difficult. “Sooner or later, we’ll find someone,” he said. “I would like to get another good restaurant here.” Craft said he isn’t as worried about the impact of the move on himself – but more so on the overall health of the downtown. “I’m more concerned about them leaving for the traffic they pull downtown,” he said, noting the number of customers who eat at Panera then do some shopping at other downtown stores. “That’s my biggest concern.” The current Panera site at 139 S. Main St. is 5,000 square feet. “They’ve been a good tenant. I’m sorry to see them leave,” Craft said. The manager Tuesday morning at Panera downtown said she couldn’t answer questions about the move. The corporate office did not return a phone call or email request. Meanwhile, after more than 40 years serving the classic Big Boys and strawberry pie at the Frisch’s at 1540 E. Wooster St., officials from that restaurant hope their loyal fans will continue to seek out Boy Boy specialties. The East Wooster site, once a place popular with BGSU students especially for late night food, could not compete with drive-thru food from McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Waffle House, said Rob Armstrong, president of Bennett Enterprises, which operates Big Boy. “We felt…

Citizens honored for making a difference in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County honored its best on Sunday – a farmer who shows his love for the land by putting agronomics ahead of economics, a teacher who pushes his students to achieve goals they never believed possible, and a volunteer who helps connect people with ancestors they never knew existed. The Wood County Commissioners continued the annual tradition of handing out the Spirit of Wood County Awards on Sunday afternoon in the courthouse atrium. The following people were recognized: Mark Drewes for Agricultural Leadership. Robert Pollex for Liberty Through Law/Human Freedom. Charles Cox for Education for Civic Responsibility. Richard Adams for Religion and Liberty. Tom Oberhouse for Industrial/Economic Development. Millie Broka for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. Michael Sibbersen for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. Ann Harris Householder for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. David Chilson for a Special Spirit of Wood County Award. Drewes, a grain farmer from the Custar area, is a recognized steward of the land who always has a tractor seat to share with people who want to learn about farming the land. “My dad preaches the term agronomics over economics,” said Drewes daughter, Darcy Krassow. Drewes is part of a multi-generational family farm partnership that has farmed in the Black Swamp area since the 1880s. Drewes’ farm model and mission encompass important conservation principles. And he shares his knowledge with others, having been a member of many national and state agricultural associations that work to find solutions to problems. He has been a strong advocate for farm issues and for the people who dedicate themselves to making their living off the land. Drewes has an open door policy at his farm – welcoming anyone to ask questions and discuss farming. He has hosted many crop tours, FFA tours, and bus tours of his farmland. When agriculture needed research on reducing the impact on the environment, Drewes offered up his farm as a research laboratory. He is unafraid of results and willing to lead by example in implementing new practices and technology to better his farm and the environment, according to the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. Pollex, of Perrysburg, served as a Wood County probate/juvenile judge from 1984 to 1998, then as a common pleas judge until retiring in 2016. “He had an impact on generations of juveniles in Wood County,” said current Juvenile Court Judge Dave Woessner. Pollex took a winding road to the judge’s bench. After earning a degree in physics, he worked as a research physicist for Libbey-Owens-Ford. It was there that he invented a device that measures the curvature of glass as it it being heated in a furnace. At night, he went to law school. He then worked in the firm of Charles Kurfess and as a part-time prosecuting attorney. Pollex…

Tax break approved for new glass plant in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Plans for a new glass plant in Wood County are a little more crystal clear. On Thursday, the Wood County Commissioners approved a request from NSG Pilkington for a 100 percent tax abatement for 15 years. The same deal was approved Wednesday by the Troy Township Trustees. And agreements have already been made with Eastwood Schools to get $344,000 a year, and Penta to get $44,000 annually. The new 511,000-square-foot glass plant, estimated to cost $270 million, will create 150 jobs. “We are excited to have you break ground and be in Wood County,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. NSG Pilkington, formerly LOF, considered sites in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan before deciding on the Troy Township site. The location is off Pemberville Road, just south of Garling Road, and south of the Home Depot warehouse. The company conducted a “rigorous site search,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “He’s been a big help,” NSG overall solar project manager Todd Huffman said of Gottschalk’s assistance. Wood County Planning Director Dave Steiner said the efforts by economic development officials to have the site “shovel ready” paid off for this project. “It’s nice to see this in an area already slated and ready to go,” Steiner said. The new plant – dubbed the “Falcon Project” – will be designed to support the company’s solar energy customers. The biggest of those customers is First Solar – for which NSG has created a “unique” glass product. “I’m excited to be a part of an initiative that’s creating clean energy,” Huffman said. More manufacturing space could not be “shoehorned” into the Rossford NSG plant, Huffman said. So the search began for an additional site. Huffman, who grew up in Perrysburg, said he hoped the new plant could be built locally, “but the numbers have to make sense.” The approval of the tax abatement by the county commissioners helps those numbers align. The new plant – like the Rossford location – will be in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “You can’t turn off a furnace and turn it back on,” Huffman said. The new plant will put to use the latest technology for coating the glass for more light transmission. The company is also expanding in Vietnam, to support First Solar growth there, Huffman said. Of the 150 jobs created, 110 will be hourly and 40 will be salary. After the meeting with the commissioners, Huffman said NSG has already started looking for key people for the new plant. “We recognize labor markets are very tight,” he said. However, Huffman said NSG has a reputation as a great place to work – which may help the new plant fill positions. “I want to make sure we’re the preferred place to work in Northwest Ohio,” he…

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Retro finds room to grow

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kayla Minniear said she’s had her eye on the storefront at 127 S. Main in downtown Bowling Green for a while. The space wasn’t available when she and her husband, Jon, opened Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Retro two years ago. So they settled into the former Mills Jewelry store a half block south on the other side of the street.  Now the shop has moved into those more spacious quarters across the street. “We had just outgrown that space,” Jon Minniear said. “We didn’t have enough space to put stuff out. We loved the old space, but this is bigger.” Now, he said, he’s not tripping over everything. Opening the store was something the couple discussed before they were married.  Back when they were dating, Kayla Minniear said, they started collecting Nintendo games, and that expanded to other vintage items. Having a storefront to sell the surplus seemed a natural development. Rock ’Em Sock ’Em sells video games dating to the Atari era, pop culture themed  items, action figures, vintage toys,  and some manga merchandise. They not only sell, but they also buy these items. “We have a little something for everybody,” he said. The storefront has a large vestibule that now has arcade games. That large entryway was one of the storefront’s appeals, Kayla Minniear said. One of the shop’s back rooms will be equipped for arcade game competition. Another, Jon Minniear said, will be used to display art by the Black Sheep Shack. The company run by Caroline Lippert, Kayla Minniear’s mother, also did the signage for the shop. The shop is doing well, John Minniear said. Because of Bowling Green State University, every year brings a new group of customers. Some customers who’d just discovered the shop this fall, even helped the couple move. “We’ve made a lot of great friends, customers who come in regularly,” he said. A year after Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Retro opened, Cameron’s Comics also opened on Main Street. Then in spring, at the encouragement of the Minniears, Joe Busch opened The Stacked Deck gaming shop across the alley from their original storefront. Reflecting on these developments, Jon Minniear said: “We’re bringing nerd culture back.” 

BG puts sale of industrial park acreage on fast track

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council agreed last week to put the sale of industrial park acreage on the fast track. The city approved emergency action to sell three acres to a company wanting to move here from Cincinnati, and 1.56 acres to a company already here that needs more parking and storage space. Sue Clark, director of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation, explained the need to expedite both sales. On the southeast corner of the city, three acres will be sold in the John Quinn Innovative Tech Park off Napoleon Road for $26,000 per acre. According to Clark, the new company plans to build an 18,000-square-foot manufacturing building. It currently has 10 employees, and plans on hiring 10 more by 2022. “He is anxious for his concrete footers to be done before the snow flies,” Clark said of the company owner. And in the Woodbridge Industrial Park off Dunbridge Road, Vehtek officials would like to purchase acreage in order to provide more parking for employees and storage space for racking. Vehtek, with approximately 700 employees, is one of Bowling Green’s largest employers. The company has plans to add another 50 employees. Several employees already have to park in the grass during their shifts. And Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman has repeatedly expressed concern about getting fire equipment up to the building in case of a fire. The added space will help, Clark said. “So the fire chief can get the fire truck around without any problems,” Clark said. Plans call for an improved right-of-way on East Poe Road, with the addition of a culvert crossing over the Poe Road ditch, along with widening a portion of Poe Road. These improvements will allow better truck access into and out of the facility. For the right-of-way widening, Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green’s economic development office, has been working with the state to secure Ohio Department of Transportation funds for 75 percent of the improvements. Normally the city would fund the other 25 percent of the project. However, the city is proposing that Vehtek pay $60,000 to the city for a strip of city property adjacent to the company’s northern property line. This will improve Vehtek’s ability to expand its site and make parking/storage improvements. Council member Sandy Rowland initially expressed concerns about the ordinances being expedited for the two companies. “What can we do to make this fair for everyone,” Rowland asked. Council president Mike Aspacher assured that it’s just the sale of the land from the city to the companies that is being hastened. “These folks will still need to go through the same planning and permitting process,” he said. “These are pretty cut and dry real estate transfers,” Aspacher said. The companies will still have to submit plans to the city planning commission and the…

Downtown Farmers Market moving indoors

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN One of the many tell-tale signs of summer and favorite for all locals in Downtown Bowling Green is the Downtown Bowling Green Farmer’s Market. For years this annual event has brought hundreds to downtown to sample, purchase and enjoy local vendors and artisans from the area, and spend more time in our voted Best Small Town! Downtown BG is so thrilled to announce we are not done yet! On October 24th, with new winter hours of 3-6 p.m., Downtown BG will open their first Winter Market for the community! The cozy indoor space is directly attached to Calico, Sage, and Thyme & the new Tea Room along Clay and Main Street. While the weather is willing to cooperate, vendors will also be placed outside around the gorgeous iconic tree! What vendors are coming along you may ask? Can produce still be purchased this time of year? We’re happy to say YES! 10-15 market vendors will be present each week providing everything from fresh produce including; squash, pumpkins, mushrooms, microgreens, asparagus, and more! On top of that, there will be baked goods from both Bella Cuisine & Country Grains- and sweet treats and bars from 2 Sharp Cookies! River Valley Pasta will be back with a variety of difference flavors to try each week, and Viking Coffee will have fresh roasted options for all the caffeine enthusiasts! There will also be amazing artistic vendors like Bottles by Ada, providing soy candles and recycled wine bottles with succulents, stunning holiday wreaths from Clay Hill  and tie dye clothing from Magical Mystery Shop! Vendors will constantly be changing as each week goes by, so make sure to stop in an see who is new to the lineup! Riehm Produce Farm will have their CSA bags available for pick-up at our new location through the holiday as well! Great Lakes Custom Sharpening will not be sharpening tools on site, but our market location will be a drop off/pick-up for your sharpening needs each week! WIC and SNAP programs will also continue into our Winter Market season with vendors who are eligible for them. Downtown Dollars can still be purchased and used for market shopping from our market manager Sam. BGSU Dining & Training Kitchen will also play a fun role during our market. Each week a new chef will utilize local ingredients from our vendors and make a fun new free sample for market customers to try the following week! This partnership is a wonderful connection to campus for us, and we hope to see an increase in students for this new winter event! The market also recently brought on a student representative, Nicole Lembo, who will be showing students each week the perks to shopping local and fresh even with her crazy student schedule! Make sure to follow her on instagram for weekly updates…

NSG Pilkington announces new glass plant will be located in Troy Township

NSG Group announced today (Oct. 19) that  it will locate its new 500,000-square-foot facility in Troy Township near  First Solar’s Lake Township site. The area is commonly known as the Eastwood Commerce Center South.   The site selection is pending approval of state and local incentive packages. Construction will begin in the spring of 2019 and it is expected the plant will be operational in the second half of 2020. The new float glass line is the first in the U.S. for the NSG Group since 1980 and is expected to create 125-150 new jobs. According to the company: “The new plant will support the Group’s plan to expand production capacity of online TCO (transparent conductive oxide) coated glass to support the growing solar market, as announced earlier in May 2018.”   (See related story.)