BG gets ‘dose of reality’ – curb appeal lacking as families shop for college

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Shopping for universities has become a “buyer’s market,” and many prospective students and their families aren’t attracted to what Bowling Green is selling. Bowling Green has received this “dose of reality” in the latest study on city development. Without making some major changes in the community, the report projects Bowling Green State University will likely see a big drop in enrollment. The consultants have shared a painful truth, Mayor Dick Edwards said during Monday’s City Council meeting. “Bowling Green has a major image problem that needs to be fixed,” Edwards said of the report. “The condition of the city is placing the university at a competitive disadvantage in attracting students.” Edwards, however, objected to some of the bold statements in the report. “I sincerely believe that we have not been standing still as a community,” he said. “I nevertheless agree that timing is critical and we have no choice but to move forward with deliberate speed on a priority basis.” The “Strategy for Redevelopment” focuses on the East Wooster Corridor, and was researched by Development Strategies of St. Louis. Bowling Green State University contracted for the study that is looking at how to best develop the areas on the outer fringe of the university. The city and university have been working on the East Wooster roadway for the past few years, with roundabouts and a new bridge over Interstate 75 underway. But the report pointed out that the minor rezoning efforts by the city are not enough. The report has an “unmistakable sense of urgency,” Edwards said. Projections call for diminishing numbers of traditional age college students beginning in 2025. That will intensify the competitiveness in the marketplace. Also, students and parents are increasingly making decisions about colleges based on appearance of communities. Communities like Kent have made substantial improvements in the areas adjoining the campus, Edwards said. Bowling Green is in the beginning stages of those efforts. “The simple truth is that we as a community cannot afford the economic losses associated with declining enrollments,” the mayor said. BGSU President Rodney Rogers has been awaiting the report. “He clearly senses this urgency,” Edwards said. “The numbers are very, very telling.” The numbers, which show the potential decline in enrollment, are a “dose of reality” for the university and the city, the mayor said. The key to the city’s future along the East Wooster Corridor, according to Edwards, will be the ability to attract private investors to build in targeted areas along the corridor – such as the Thurstin-Manville intersection, the area near the Falcon Health Center, and the entry point into the city off I-75. The city needs to make way for that development, according to the consultants. The city must create a “regulatory framework for development,” to establish standards for setbacks, landscaping, signage, architectural quality – and then make sure to stick with those standards. “I agree with the consultants, the city must be proactive rather than reactive, and that means addressing as a matter of priority zoning issues, architectural standards and expanding the offerings of incentives,” Edwards said. BGSU and the city will be meeting soon to set priorities based on the report. “A shared vision between the city and the university on how best to move forward is paramount, and I have every reason to believe that the excellent working relationships between town and gown will continue unabated,” the mayor said. Though the report points out deficiencies in the city, Edwards remained optimistic that the city can accomplish the goals set. “I sincerely believe opportunities abound,” he said. City…

Brian Sokol to join BGSU entrepreneurship center as associate director

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The College of Business at Bowling Green State University has selected Vermilion entrepreneur and BGSU alumnus Brian Sokol as the new associate director of the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Sokol, a patented inventor or co-inventor on multiple high-profile consumer products and an executive whose operational cornerstone is innovation, will work closely with current director of the Center, Kirk D. Kern. Sokol ’82, ’84 has been an active participant with the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership for many years, serving on its advisory board and participating as a Falcon Investor on “The Hatch,” in which student entrepreneurs present their business ideas to alumni investors, since its inception. In 2011, Sokol was inducted into the distinguished Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame. He also has been a guest lecturer of entrepreneurship at BGSU. “We are excited that a highly successful, distinguished entrepreneur of Brian’s caliber has joined the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership to help us continue to launch new businesses and drive economic vitality in this region,” Kern said. “We look forward to having Brian’s innovative insight and energy.” After receiving his marketing degree and later MBA from BGSU, Sokol embarked on a series of ascending sales and marketing roles in public and privately held corporations. He implemented marketing commercialization plans globally as vice president of marketing for Loctite Corp. By the age of 35, Sokol was president of the automotive appearance products company Blue Coral, which was later sold to Quaker State Oil Company after achieving significant growth. As president of Quaker State Consumer Products Group, and later Pennzoil, Sokol led the acquisitions and mergers of several well-known companies and reconstructed the entire supply chain. Some of the new technologies invented under his leadership included RainX windshield wiper blades and Tire Wet tire dressing. After Shell purchased Pennzoil, Sokol pivoted into serial entrepreneurism, raising capital, bringing new ideas to market and commercializing inventions. His continuous stream of commercialized new inventions included everything from towel warmers to patented pillows that treat “technology neck” to a patented FDA Phase II drug compound that prevents airborne infectious disease. The Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the College of Business at BGSU is just one of 20 centers worldwide recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Plastic bag ban urged – before state yanks right to do so

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Green-minded students challenged Bowling Green Monday evening to live up to its environmentally conscious reputation. During the second public meeting to collect comments on a possible ban or fee on single-use plastic bags, seven citizens spoke – six in favor of a ban and one with a host of questions. Listening were members of the City Council Community Improvement Committee made up of Mark Hollenbaugh, Bill Herald and John Zanfardino. The Bowling Green State University students and graduates listed off other communities that have already adopted measures to stop the proliferation of single-use plastic bags. On the coasts, in San Francisco, Boston and Seattle, plastic bag bans are already in place. The rules differ depending on the city, explained Amelia Reed. Some still allow plastic bags for produce and meat products – but they have to be made of a high percentage of recycled plastic. Some cities have gone further and have enacted 5 cent paper bag taxes to encourage shoppers to bring cloth bags. The European Union recently voted to ban single-use plastic bags by 2021, according to environmental science student Ross Martin. “If an entire continent can do it, the city of Bowling Green and the university can do it,” Martin said. If not, Bowling Green will continue to be a part of the problem, he added. “We need to follow the example of our friends across the pond,” Martin said. Martin suggested that the ban cover all businesses, not just the big box stores. He questioned the concern by businesses that customers will go elsewhere to shop if Bowling Green businesses no longer have plastic bags. BGSU is already working to implement a single-use plastic bag ban, according to Tatiana Grazos. Last spring, more than 1,000 signatures from students and staff were collected to request a plastic bag ban. The effort was supported by the university, and the bags will be phased out by spring of 2020. The university is coming up with alternatives for students – such as bags made with 85 percent recyclable material, Grazos said. “I implore the city of Bowling Green to implement a plastic ban,” not only for big box stores, but for all businesses, she said. Rachel Chapman, a graduate with a degree in environmental science, also urged Bowling Green leaders to act. “I think the city’s faced with a very important choice right now,” she said. The Ohio legislature is reportedly considering a bill that would prohibit communities from enacting plastic bag bans. No other Ohio cities have bans in place, but some are also considering taking action before the state no longer allows them to do so. “I would love the city of Bowling Green to be the first city in Ohio to ban plastic bags,” Chapman said. She suggested a total ban on plastic bags at checkouts, but continued use for produce and meat. If the ban was implemented in 2020, that would give businesses time to plan for the change, Chapman said. Enforcement could be difficult. Chapman researched countries that had pretty stiff penalties for stores using plastic bags, like $300 fines in Chili, $1,500 fines in China, and jail time in Kenya. The council committee agreed those penalties seemed excessive. The revenue generated from fines could be used at the recycling center, Chapman suggested. Chapman also recommended that the plastic bag ban not apply to non-profits, such as food pantries that rely on the free bags. “But it should apply to all businesses that are profiting,” she said. Madi Stump explained the plastic bag ban that recently went into…

Creative arts is big business for Ohio, new study finds

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News The Center for Regional Development (CRD) at Bowling Green State University has discovered that the creative arts industry in Ohio accounts for more than $41 billion in economic activity, supports more than 289,000 jobs and generates over $4.5 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue annually. The economic sustainability of a community is dependent on many factors. Whether leadership, medical or scientific development or business investment, community success is measured in a multitude of ways. Stepping back from the traditional view of economic stimulus, the center worked to develop a study of the impact creative arts play in Ohio’s economy. The report  is a response to a request from Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA), a not-for-profit educational organization aimed at advancing the impact of arts in Ohio through research, engagement and learning opportunities. Sharing this mission with BGSU, OCA enlisted the help of CRD, a research center on campus vastly familiar with helping the community assess economic impact. “Organizations like OCA often reach out to us for similar studies because of our reputation for unbiased and rigorous economic impact analyses,” said Dr. Russell Mills, the center’s director and an associate professor of political science. While CRD’s main focus is applying research on societal issues and challenges to enhance the economic vitality within the region surrounding the University, the center also has developed its mission to serve the state of Ohio at large. The study found that 70 percent of the creative industries’ impact was located in Ohio’s six metropolitan areas: Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron and Youngstown. Independent artists and performers enjoyed a 60 percent increase in output since 2015. CRD and the OCA separate the arts industry into six categories: museums and collections, performing arts, visual arts and photography, film/radio/television, design and publishing, and schools and services. In doing so, the arts industry can be seen among a diverse array of venues from fine arts to more commercial applications. The study is unique in that it looks not only at the major metropolitan areas of the state most known for their arts industries, but makes note that technological advancements and media have led to a great increase in the arts in rural areas as well. Rural counties make up nearly 30 percent of the creative economy, with more than $12 billion in annual economic activity. This defies popular perception that creative activity is primarily an urban phenomenon. The report explains that “creativity, innovation and knowledge creation are now central to economic prosperity.” “Organizations typically use an economic impact analysis like this to inform and educate legislators on the value of public investment in the arts,” Mills said. By demonstrating the tangible products of the arts, the creative industry integrates itself into the traditional view of community development importance. Realizations such as those reached within this study help better translate the importance of the arts and arts education to Ohio’s economy.

BGSU launching new professional doctoral program in business

By BONNIE BLANKINSHIP For BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University has brought together two of its most prominent graduate programs to create an innovative degree designed to open new avenues of opportunity for experienced professionals who wish to lead transformational change in business, organizations, education and communities. The doctorate in organization development and change (DODC) draws upon the formidable combination of BGSU’s nationally ranked programs in organization development (OD) and industrial/organizational psychology. In addition, BGSU’s College of Business has the distinction of being accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), a credential held by only the top 2 percent of business schools worldwide. With the professional doctorate, graduates will be equipped to serve as executive leaders, as consultants or in academia, with the flexibility and credentials to combine or move between the three. They can use their professional doctorate to lead change initiatives, teach if they wish, or develop their own consultancy, enlarging their scope of influence. “With this degree, people can translate their experience into becoming thought leaders with a professional brand,” said Dr. Steven Cady, a professor of management and DODC director. “It gives them the credibility to share their expertise through producing and sharing knowledge, publishing, helping others to work better and bring about healthy change to revitalize communities, transform organizations, and develop human potential.” “Organization development and I/O psychology share core principles of positivity and a concern for employee well-being,” said Dr. Margaret Brooks, associate professor of management. “The disciplines bring together unique strengths as well. OD is an applied field with professionals who excel at understanding the big picture and putting systems and structure in place to facilitate real change. I/O psychology is particularly well-equipped to add value by assuring that a firm understanding of data and evidence-based deliberation underlies these practices. The DODC program will draw on these complementary strengths to provide a rich educational experience to serve these change leaders.” In addition to an individual’s interest in the program, business or organizations involved in “succession planning” may wish to sponsor promising leaders for the DODC to leverage the skills and wisdom they can bring to successfully lead large-scale change, said Tom Daniels, associate director of the program and graduate recruitment coordinator for the College of Business. Organization development and change specialists work in a variety of professions and locations including executive leadership, strategy, public administration, urban planning, training and development, community development, industrial and organizational psychology and human resources. “Bowling Green has always aimed to be on the leading edge,” Cady said. “Our Master of Organization Development was the first of its kind in the world, and BGSU has long been a recognized leader in the field of industrial/organizational psychology. We listened to our alumni about their needs and decided now is the right time to offer a program that allows working professionals to take their careers to the next level. “Executive doctorate programs are becoming more popular with professionals who do not want to leave their careers to pursue full-time research Ph.D.’s.” “The BGSU psychology and industrial/organizational psychology areas are excited to collaborate on this new degree partnership,” said Dr. Michael Zickar, psychology department chair. “We have a long history of working with the organization development faculty, and I see good things to come from this partnership. These executive degree students will come from management positions within their industries and will give us access to leadership and organizational data that will expand our knowledge,” he said. The three-year, hybrid curriculum blends online courses and weekend residencies, with seven-week classes geared to working professionals….

Hooking up high school grads with manufacturing jobs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Graduates need jobs. Manufacturers need workers. And a new Project Readiness program would like to be the matchmaker to put them together. On Friday, area manufacturers, educators and workforce agencies gathered to study how high school juniors and seniors could be encouraged to give careers in manufacturing a chance. Earlier in the week, Mary DeWitt from the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services and Pete Prichard from Northwest State Community College met with the Wood County Commissioners to describe the new Project Readiness program. “There are a number of kids who don’t know what they want to do,” Prichard said. And many end up going to college because it seems like the thing to do. So Project Readiness wants to present them with another option. “We want to provide this opportunity to 11th and 12th graders,” Prichard said. “It’s an innovative project.” Students who start out with manufacturers don’t have to give up on college dreams, Prichard said. Some may want to attend college while working. Some local manufacturers are so desperate for employees that they are willing to work around school schedules or offer students hours during their school breaks, he said. Manufacturing is no longer back-breaking work in dirty plants. Often, it now offers high-tech, well-paying jobs. “Manufacturing is different than it was 20-30 years ago,” Prichard said. So far, Bowling Green City Schools, Otsego and Penta Career Center have bought into the concept, DeWitt told the county commissioners. “We’re all trying to accomplish the same things” – help young people find jobs and help manufacturers find employees, DeWitt said. “Wade keeps bringing in these businesses,” she said of Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. And those new businesses need workers. Plus giving graduates jobs here, helps ensure that they will consider this region as a place to put down roots as they get older. “We want to keep them here in Wood County,” DeWitt said. “We don’t want them to leave the area,” Prichard said. The effort to link high school juniors and seniors appealed to the county commissioners. “We appreciate you being so visionary and moving forward with this,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “It certainly is worth a try.” When the county commissioners make visits to industrial sites in the county, they frequently hear about the dire need for more employees. “There certainly is a need,” Herringshaw said. “That’s what we hear when we make our visits. There aren’t enough people.” Efforts are being made to get more school districts involved, plus to connect with more manufacturers in the county, DeWitt said. The program will acquaint students with manufacturing and skilled trade opportunities by providing plant tours and speakers. The program will allow students and their parents to see today’s manufacturing environments and understand the diverse options available. “It’s a pretty cool thing,” Prichard said.

BG brand: We may be a small city, but we’re not small-minded

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News This is not Bowling Green, Kentucky. When the voice on the other end of the line has a distinct twang while asking about Bowling Green events, local officials have come to realize the callers are often talking about the Bowling Green to the south. This Bowling Green is said to have been named by a retired postal worker who previously worked in Bowling Green, Kentucky. But people whose job it is to promote this Bowling Green want to make a distinction. This is not Bowling Green, Kentucky. A new branding effort on part of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau, led by executive director Wendy Chambers, was revealed last week to City Council. “We are BG, Ohio, and we want to spread the word united to make us stand out to the masses and become readily recognizable,” Chambers said. The new branding is intended to reflect the city’s energy. “This city is not sleepy. It’s engaged, accepting and hungry for smart growth,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is not what many people think, she added. “We’re better, cooler and more progressive,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is a small city with a big city mentality, she added. The city welcomes diversity, is open-minded, offers a kaleidoscope of activity and is eco-minded. “We welcome all people from all countries to live, work and play,” she said. The city is open to possibilities, open to innovation, open to everyone, Chambers said. The new branding effort is intended to show that this is not the other southern Bowling Green. And it may be a small city, but it is not small-minded. “Bowling Green has the guts to break barriers and the heart to bring others with them,” Chambers said. “We are the up and coming college city in northern Ohio to learn, live, grow, work and play.” In addition to pushing the message on social media and printed materials the Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to look into a series of wearables and branded merchandise, she said. “We can all be walking billboards,” for the community, Chambers said. “We all need to work together to spread the word.” A “brand launch” party is planned for March 28, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Four Corners office downtown. “Bowling Green, Ohio, is a city where you can be you. We are open-minded, forward- thinking, and ready to grow our city culturally and economically. We are full of colorful opportunities and people; a small city with a big city mentality. We are educated, eco-minded and innovative,” the branding materials stress. “We’re a real life kaleidoscope of connectivity; a free reflection of one another,” Chamber said. “We want to show the world that in Bowling Green, we’re generating the future, one big thought at a time.”

Debate over plastic bag ban or fee has many layers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council Chambers was packed Tuesday evening with people who have disdain for single-use plastic bags, and people who rely on them to do their jobs. The hearing was held by City Council’s Community Improvement Committee, made up of Mark Hollenbaugh, Bill Herald and John Zanfardino. Hollenbaugh explained the city is exploring a myriad of options for single-use plastic bags. Nine citizens voiced their support or opposition to possible plastic bag regulation in the city. Seven were in support, and two were against. Another hearing will be held March 4, at 6 p.m., in city council chambers, to give more citizens a chance to share their feelings. James Egan suggested that any fees raised be used to track the effect of a ban, since little data is available. Madi Stump said the plastic bag debate is a sustainability issue, and communities can learn to adapt to changes in their consumer cultures. Joe DeMare estimated that 150 municipalities across the nation have banned or charge fees for single-use plastic. The problem may seem overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean that communities should give up. “Plastic bags can be at the top of the list,” DeMare said. He mentioned the problem with blowing plastic bags at the Wood County Landfill, west of Bowling Green. An ordinance on bags can be an attempt to deal with a highly visible part of the overall problem. “Eventually, we’re going to have to deal with the entire iceberg,” DeMare said. Zanfardino said he was glad to see places like Cuyahoga County tackling the plastic bag problem. “I’m heartened to see other cities looking at this in Ohio,” he said. Tom Klein’s only reservation on the possible plastic bag ordinance is that it doesn’t go far enough. “We’re drowning in waste,” Klein said. And banning plastic bags makes people feel as if they are solving a problem. “They’re deceptive. They make us feel like we’re dealing with the problem.” But Robin Belleville, owner of BG Frosty Fare, said her business relies on the bags to send food orders home with customers. “I come to you urging a ‘no’ vote,” she said. A five or 10 cent fee per sale would have a “huge impact” on her business. “Each and every sale matters to my bottom line,” Belleville said, saying a fee would make her reconsider operating a business in Bowling Green. She mentioned that her husband’s family business, Belleville Brothers, also relies on plastic bags. When customers bring in their own bags, there are sanitary concerns to consider, she said. “They don’t want to put meat back into a bag,” that has already been used, she said. “I think you really need to hear the businesses across town,” Belleville said. “You really need to go out and talk to the businesses.” Belleville also took advantage of her time at the podium to criticize the number of city vehicles and city employees she sees around the community. Zanfardino said that he was considering a regulation that affected just the big box stores in the city. “Stores that can easily absorb this,” Zanfardino said. “I’m not thinking small businesses.” The other voice against plastic bag regulation came from Todd Sayler, a volunteer with the First United Methodist food pantry and Bowling Green Christian Food Pantry. A ban or fee would hurt low income clients who use the bags to carry home frozen meat, bread, fruits and vegetables, he said. Sayler suggested the city consider the effects on non-profit groups. Herald noted the many layers to the issue. Would any ordinance involve…

Mayor prepares BG for ‘pivotal’ year at State of the City address

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News After 58 years in public service, Mayor Dick Edwards gave his last State of the City address Tuesday, focusing on Bowling Green’s storied past, its challenging present and its hopeful future. And as for Edwards himself, who started in public service during the Kennedy administration, his success has often depended on the “gospel” of President Harry Truman, who said, “it is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Nadine Edwards reminded her husband of that quote when he became mayor in 2012. “Believe me, it works,” the mayor said. So as Edwards listed off the accomplishments of the city in the past year, he made sure to spread around the credit. He talked about the 27 ribbon cuttings for new and expanding businesses last year, the slow recovery of the city budget, and most of all, the city’s partnership with Bowling Green State University. Since 1910, BGSU has been an “integral part of our economic and social fabric,” Edwards said. The two entities are “mutually interdependent. One cannot succeed without the other.” It was the urging of past BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey that resulted in a joint vision study to update the city’s land use plan of 1987. That study led to new plans focusing especially on the city’s east side. “It was a pressing community need – how to give new life and measures of hope and vitality to our sagging neighborhoods,” Edwards said. Eventually, a Community Action Plan with its many “challenging recommendations” was adopted and plans were made for the East Wooster corridor. But the city is up to the challenges, the mayor added. “Now is the time for action,” Edwards said. “It will test our mettle as a community.” And though the mayor is in his last year in office, he assured that isn’t resting yet. For 2019 is a “pivotal year.” State of the City address Tuesday morning in the Wood County District Public Library atrium Bowling Green is primed for progress, Edwards said. The city has achieved a healthy bond rating and good credit score, it has strong employment numbers, and income tax collections that exceeded expectations. Federal and state grant funding of more than $4 million last year is paying for major projects like the roundabouts on East Wooster at Interstate 75, plus roadwork on Conneaut, Fairview, Manville and in the Wood Bridge industrial park. “We all know that substantial financial challenged abound,” he said, listing street maintenance and aging city buildings as continued concerns. But Edwards is hopeful that newly sworn in Gov. Mike DeWine will revive some of the depleted local government funds from the state. “This is welcome news to all municipalities in Ohio,” the mayor said. In addition to the two roundabouts, Bowling Green will also take on a new look with a new building in City Park, the return of the brick inlay at the downtown intersection of Main and Wooster, and the completion of Wooster Green. Private donations for that town square have reached $368,000 of the $430,000 goal. “The city is well positioned for continuing success,” he said. Aiding in the progress, the mayor said, is the the city’s ethical governance, absence of partisan politics, commitment to sustainable energy (including the largest solar field in the state) and emphasis on economic development. The biggest concern for local manufacturers is the shortage of skilled and unskilled workers, Edwards said. To help remedy this issue, the city has adopted the Welcome BG Initiative, to help legal immigrants feel welcome in Bowling Green. The city’s…

Curtain closing on last movie rental store in BG – Family Video

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The credits are rolling for the last movie rental store in Bowling Green. That means the end of a tradition for those in the community who still prefer scanning the store shelves for a golden classic or a new action flick. Like the generation raised on dime matinees at theaters, there was also a generation raised on weekly trips to the movie rental stores. “When I was a kid, Friday and Saturday nights, places like this were packed,” Ivan Kovacevic said as he reminisced with his son about the end to the movie rental stores. On Monday, Kovacevic and his son were getting some deals buying a couple movies at Family Video. “It’s the changing times,” he said. “Businesses like this have more options” and much more competition. The closure, with the last day open to the public on Friday, has some frequent customers feeling blue, Family Video Manager Kait Nelson said. “A lot of our regulars are sad. They don’t have the streaming services,” Nelson said as she staffed the front counter on Monday. “They are our friends. They are our family. It’s become a routine for them.” Sure, there are Red Box movie rentals – but those aren’t the same as video rental stores, she said. Red Box rentals offer no human interaction. “You get a friendly face,” at the movie store, Nelson said. “Employees can offer suggestions.” But it’s more than that, she added. Try renting a movie classic at a Red Box. “Red Box is all about new stuff,” Nelson said. “We have a lot of classics.” And if you want more than one night to watch a movie – better get ready to pay a fine with Red Box. Family Video rentals last five days. Family Video movies for sale through Friday Bowling Green has been home to many movie rental stores – Video Spectrum, Video Connection and Movie Gallery to name a few. The Family Video store, at 816 S. Main St., was a latecomer to the city. Nationally these stores focused on smaller cities and more rural areas, since Blockbuster movie stores had a secure hold on the movie rental business in larger cities. But the end to Blockbuster stores in 2013 left Family Video as the only video rental chain left standing in the U.S. Now, with the ease of streaming movies making it possible for people to get movies without getting off the couch, many of those Family Video stores are closing up as well. Nelson knows as well as anyone that video stores have a tough time competing against streaming services. “It’s easier to stream. It’s convenient,” she said. It’s that competition from streaming at home, and picking up a new movie from Red Box rentals at local grocery stores or Walmart, that led to the Family Video closing. That combined with a rent increase by the landlord at the strip mall on South Main Street, according to Family Video employee Jared Freeman. Despite the convenience of streaming, some people still prefer perusing the shelves for movie selections. “When I want to rent movies, it’s the only place left,” said Jaime Myers, who previously lived in Bowling Green and now lives in Rossford. She estimated she made visits at least once a month to Family Video. “I still like my DVDs. I’m old school,” she said, holding a stack of movies that she planned to purchase. The closing sale also attracted Tim Heer, from Waterville. “Where else can you get 10 movies for $10,” Heer said. And best of all, he found a…

$250 million logistics park, 2,000 jobs proposed near CSX hub

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News When the CSX Intermodal facility opened eight years ago west of North Baltimore, it brought with it the promise of luring other development. On Tuesday, a couple consultants for NorthPoint Development, in Kansas City, presented a pitch to the Wood County Commissioners about doing just that. Dave Robinson told the commissioners that NorthPoint is interested in forming a public-private partnership to help develop acreage bordering the CSX Intermodal facility. The area has room for “tons of growth” on 122 acres. That growth could mean up to 2,000 new jobs plus tax benefits for the region. But in exchange for the construction of a logistics park, the developer wants a property tax abatement of 100 percent for 15 years, Robinson told the county commissioners. NorthPoint has a great deal of experience working with intermodal partnerships, Robinson said. He noted some of the company’s existing developments in Kansas City and Rickenbacker near Columbus. The open acreage on the south side of Ohio 18, by the local CSX site, is ripe for placement of distribution and manufacturing facilities, Robinson told the commissioners. And NorthPoint has experience building “major big box state-of-the-art facilities,” he said. The acreage has room for more than 4 million square feet of building space, Robinson said. “It would be a large driver of economic development,” he said. “We think it will be a great opportunity.” A growing trend nationally is the need for distribution centers, Robinson told the commissioners. Ten percent of purchases in the U.S. are now made online. That number is just going to grow. “We see the growth of logistics and fulfillment as a very big trend,” he said. That is creating concerns for traditional malls and retail centers, but, “it also creates a massive opportunity,” Robinson said. And the location right next to the CSX Intermodal facility will be ideal. The site is also near Detroit and Chicago, right next to the Interstate 75 corridor, and close to the Ohio Turnpike. “We are believers in the economic benefits of the logistics industry,” Robinson said. The proposed logistics park by the CSX facility has the potential to create 2,000 jobs, he said. The jobs at the distribution centers built near Rickenbacker come with an average annual wage of $57,100, Robinson said. Though NorthPoint would insist upon the maximum tax abatement, Robinson said the firm realizes that local governmental entities need to see some tax revenue from the development. So the company is discussing some different options of how to make sure local entities aren’t shorted. According to Robinson’s numbers, the North Baltimore/Henry Township community could realize gains of $41 million in real estate and developer fees, $13 milion in JEDD income taxes, and up to 2,000 jobs. The NorthPoint Logistics Park plans could invest $250 million, and build a “world class industrial/logistics park” tied to the CSX Intermodal. But all that rests on the approval of the tax abatement. Meetings are being set up with village, township and school officials. “We really want to make this happen,” Robinson said. “We want to create a unique public-private partnership.”

BurGers is off to the races with plan to serve iconic DiBenedetto’s sub sandwiches

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Ralph DiBenedetto is back on the job. As the bread dough rolls under his hands, he claims, he’s out of practice. His deft way of stretching the dough to the edges of the sheet pan belies that assessment.  Ralph DiBenedetto Like any good craftsman he measures twice, first using a yardstick to find the midpoint and then to make sure the midpoints of the six long loafs line  up, before he makes one cut down the middle of the loaves. These will be eight-inch rolls. But first they need to sit for 80 minutes in a proofer, and then baked in a steam-injection oven. This is the bread that helped make DiBenedetto’s subs a favorite among local diners for 35 years. Now in partnership with Chris Kline, owner of BurGers (pronounced BG Burgers), those subs will return to the local bill of fare.  Kline reached out to DiBenedetto about adding a selection of his most popular items to his menu. DiBenedetto said it’s an offer he’s been waiting for since his casual dining eatery, which was located next door to BurGers’ 1424 E. Wooster address, closed about a decade ago. “I’ve been waiting for someone to approach me,” he said. There was talk of franchising, but that’s complicated with lots of red tape. Still, DiBenedetto took the time to write an operations manual. If someone picked up his name he wanted to leave nothing to chance. The offer from Kline involves more of a consulting relationship, and that operations manual has been pulled off the shelf. “Basically we want to do it as fast as we can,” Kline said.  “But we want to do it the right way so when the first customer comes in they get the same sub they got before.” That takes time, so don’t jump into the car and head over to BurGers for a sub. The working date for when they’ll be available is Feb. 20. Best to check the BurGers Facebook page, Kline advised. In the meantime, BurGers offers its full menu, which Kline said, has been getting rave reviews online. The goal is to replicate not just the taste of the sandwiches, but the look with the same wrapping. And everything from oven to coolers to prep station and service has to meet the exacting standards of Ralph and Ramona DiBenedetto.  Their son, Chris DiBenedetto who operated an Italian restaurant downtown for about  10 years when his parents retired, came in to dismantle and reassemble the meat cutter so it’s just right. The steam injection oven was located upstairs in the former downtown restaurant, now Two Foxes. Kline bought it and relocated it in his kitchen. “If we actually serve them the same thing they remember from before they’re going to love it even more,” Kline said. At first, the restaurant will offer the most popular DiBenedetto’s sandwiches, all eight-inches. The three favorites, DiBenedetto said, were the Gold Medal with smoked turkey, the Marathon, a combo club, and the Walkaway, another spicier combo. Also on the menu will be the Starter with salami, ham and provolone, the vegetarian Hurdler, the ham and cheese Pacer, and the Runner. The inclusion of the last item, a tuna sub, is sure to please Wallace DePue, DiBenedetto said.  The retired music professor used to order one every day. BurGers will also offer the Greek salad. Kline plans to offer Italian specialties, including hot subs at a later date. Ralph DiBenedetto, 81, is elated to have his subs back on the menu, especially given that he doesn’t have to be in the…

Chocolate Crawl brings out competitive nature in choco-holics

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News My husband, a runner, does not understand the skill and stamina required to complete a “Chocolate Crawl.” He cannot comprehend how an event called a “crawl” is athletic. But this year’s Chocolate Crawl went from 16 business participants last year to 42 this year. As far as I’m concerned, that is like going from a 5K to a marathon. My husband also has no respect for the training regimen it takes leading up to the annual event held in downtown Bowling Green as a fundraiser for United Way during the city’s Winterfest. And he refuses to acknowledge that there is a technique: Gloves slow you down. No matter how cold it is, repeated removal and replacement of gloves cuts into your finish time. The harsh reality is, some places will run out of chocolates before feeding all 500 participants.Hydrate. Take advantage of the stores offering the chocolate smoothies, the chocolate “buzz” rum shots, the hot chocolate and the chocolate shooters which threw in a shot of espresso so “crawlers” could maintain their pace.Use the buddy system. When you are eating chocolate on the crawl, you need a true friend who will tell you if your face is covered in hastily eaten chocolate. (Thank you, Julie.)Accessorize with a bag, since consuming all the chocolate on site is not advisable.Consult the downtown map occasionally to make sure you stay on course and don’t miss chocolate stops. Robin Cross, of Bowling Green, was going strong as she started the Chocolate Crawl Friday evening. She had just stopped in at SamB’s for one of the true delicacies on the crawl route – a Belgian chocolate truffle dipped in Columbian white chocolate with an Amareno cherry on top. “It’s my favorite so far,” Cross said. Of course, she hadn’t turned down the more common chocolate treats of the Hershey variety. The lure of chocolate was enough to get her out in the cold. “It’s for a good cause … and you gotta love chocolate,” she said. Charlotte Perlaky, 10, of Sylvania, dips into the chocolate fountain at Waddington Jewelers. At Waddington Jewelers, crawlers were given the choice of strawberries, pretzels or rice krispie treats to drench in a chocolate fountain. “I could just do this all day. It’s so satisfying,” Aimee Burns said as she held a treat under the running milk chocolate. This was Burns’ second year on the crawl. And she was ready for the challenge of the expanded course. “It’s the best. This is huge,” she said. Down the street at Aardvark Screen Printing & Embroidery, owner Gary Bell added a twist to the crawl. He was handing out T-shirts that smelled like chocolate. There’s nothing like the sweet smell of chocolate to keep the crawlers motivated. “We were looking for some idea that was chocolate related,” Bell said. “The scent is supposed to last through 40 washes.” The shirts were a hit. “People are loving them,” he said. Bell also threw in some chocolate chapsticks as an added treat. Chocolate crawlers get brownies at Art-a-Site. The vast majority of the crawl participants were female, possibly because they are more open to the idea that consuming chocolate can be a competitive event. But some husbands and male partners seemed to recognize the value of participating – or at least pleasing their mates. “I’m a willing participant,” Patrick Schroeder said as he and his wife, Karen, waited for their treats in United Way. But he willingly admitted that between the two of them, “definitely Karen” is more of a choco-holic. “We share,” Karen said. Jackie and…

Students pack in the knowledge about seeking post-college employment

By ABBY SHIFLEY BG Independent Correspondent Avery Lane had two questions for BGSU students: First, what are your plans after graduation? Second, how are you going to get there? During the second week of Winter Session, students attended the Backpack to Briefcase boot camp. The event aimed to provide students with resources they might need for their careers, as well as to challenge students to think about their post-graduation plans. Fifty-three students registered for the boot camp, which consisted of individual consultations, mock interviews, eight presentations, an etiquette lunch and professional headshots for each student. Some students at the boot camp had plenty of experience in the workforce, but still attended the camp for extra practice. “Any practice is good practice,” said Brian Armstrong, a senior majoring in geography who had a summer internship at the Iowa County Highway Department in Wisconsin. He ended up giving a presentation to the highway commissioner, which resulted in a $2 million increase in the department’s highway budget. “I feel like everyone should have the opportunity and take advantage of the opportunities that we have here to better yourself and prepare yourself for the future, for your career,” Armstrong said. “So that’s why when I saw this opportunity to come and get a mock interview done and come to this session I signed up.” The first presentation on Tuesday was on making a “one-minute commercial,” for students to use to inform potential employers on their skills and qualifications. Armstrong said he hopes that after the boot camp, “when I get to interview for a job, I’m not going to be nervous, I’m going to be prepared, I’m going to kill any interview that I go for.” “Dressing for Success” was the topic of the second presentation on Tuesday, given by Assistant Director of the Career Center Andrea Gutierrez and an employer partner and BGSU student, Bobby Bergstrom. The presentation covered what is appropriate to wear to a job interview and what isn’t, but also how the expectations can change depending on the nature of a company. Nicole Edelbrock, a junior majoring in graphic design, has bright purple and blue hair, which has upset some of her employers. “It’s mostly been retail, smaller jobs,” Edelbrock noted. “I’m not worried more so for artistic, graphic design jobs, and I wouldn’t really want to work for places that have biases against tattoos, and piercings and hair.” Edelbrock said she found the presentation insightful, even though some of it was basic knowledge.“I always wear the same shoes year-round, so making me think about investing in shoes and how important it is to make that (first) impression,” she said. The job search engine Handshake, which is provided to BGSU student, was also incorporated into the event. Handshake replaced the outdated application WorkNet last fall. Students who registered for the event had to do so through Handshake and learn to upload a resume to the system, as well as search for jobs within the system. The event ended with an etiquette lunch, attended by the registered students, as well as multiple alumni, faculty and staff, and employer partners. BGSU President Rodney Rogers spoke at the opening of the etiquette lunch on Thursday.

BG students and community team up for magic of reading

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The second graders at Crim Elementary inched in as close as possible as their teacher sat down in the rocking chair with a new book. They leaned in, some bouncing with excitement, as Stacey Higgins cracked open the magic of the new book, “Kenny and the Dragon.” This is the moment that teachers love – when children are visibly enthused about reading. And this is the moment that is recreated each year with the 1BookBG program that unifies all the elementaries and the community in reading one storybook. “It’s the community experience – to see our schools and community work on this together is wonderful,” Higgins said. Every elementary student family is given a copy of the book – this year being “Kenny and the Dragon” by Tony DiTerrlizi. For the next month, students will be reading it at school and with their families at home. And businesses throughout the community will offer trivia questions on the book. “I love reading,” said second grader Liam Walsh. “I like that reading helps me get smarter. All I want to get is smarter.” Walsh had big plans Monday to go home and read the first four chapters. “I’ll read literally all day,” he said. Kenley Mangold and Mason Naus check out their new books. His classmates Kenley Mangold and Mason Naus were paging through their new books, professing their love for reading. “I read every book every day,” Kenley said of her book collection at home. “I keep telling my mom I need more books.” Naus was particularly excited because DiTerrliz is one of his favorite authors. “I have two bookshelves, actually three,” Naus said. “I need more bookshelves.” Each year, the 1BookBG books are purchased with donations from PTOs, community organizations and local businesses. This year the district is holding a “family night” on Thursday at the middle school, from 6 to 8 p.m., for activities involving the 1BookBG. The goal is to bring the families of the community together to celebrate literacy and build connections between the schools.   Out in the community, 25 businesses have volunteered to be trivia sites for 1BookBG this year. Students can ask for trivia questions about “Kenny and the Dragon,” and if they answer correctly they get a ticket that can be placed in a drawing back at their schools. Winners get to have lunch with their favorite teachers or other local “celebrities.” And the Wood County District Public Library will be hosting a visit by the book’s author, Tony DiTerrlizi.   “For the students to see businesses celebrating reading is a big deal,” Higgins said. On Monday, before the students received their own copies of “Kenny and the Dragon,” they were prepared for their reading adventure. Higgins showed the class a video by Superintendent Francis Scruci that made the book announcement since the day it was planned for was snowed out. “The 1BookBG show must go on,” Scruci said in a dramatic tone for the students. A series of clues were presented to the kids about the mystery book. The clues mentioned “smore fun,” creme brulee, a dragon slayer and “hopping” into a good book. The students were stumped. Then it was unveiled – it would be “Kenny and the Dragon,” a book about an intelligent rabbit, brave knight and a friendly dragon. “This is an example of our community working together for the good of our schools,” Scruci said. “This is the most important skill” students will learn at school, he told the children. “Reading is the skill that unlocks all the doors to your…