Business

BGSU not ready to tee off yet on corporate development on Forrest Creason site

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A plan to bring a company to campus to locate on the site of the Forrest Creason Golf Course is in the very earliest conceptual stage. President Mary Ellen Mazey said that the idea to attract a company, possibly a high tech firm, was at this point little more than a talking point. She did broach the concept recently at a luncheon meeting when university retirees when asked about the future of the golf course. She said she’s also discussed it with a number of alumni. Her interest was piqued during a chat with one alumni Mick Story, who works for Jackson National Life. Story, a former Falcon football player, said that Jackson Life located near the Michigan State University campus to have proximity to its future workforce. Such an arrangement could also fit in with the state’s Third Frontier initiative which seeks to develop high tech industry in Ohio. The company could provide internships to students. Mazey noted that the university has a strong program in supply chain management. It also has a record of successful collaboration with outside entities, including the Falcon Health Center, the Falcon Flight Center, and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab. But any corporate project is still very much in the conceptual phase. For any property to be leased or sold, the BGSU Board of Trustees would have to take action. While the future use of the 138–acre golf course is what initiated this line of thinking, the university also has other property it could develop, on both the west and east side of I-75 and to the…


County hears pitch for business incubator to hatch inventors’ ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A business incubator may be set up in Wood County to help local inventors hatch their ideas. The Wood County Commissioners heard a proposal Tuesday morning from Rene Polin, president and founder of Balance, a company that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. “You can’t just be a dreamer. You have to be a dreamer with a business plan,” Polin said. And that’s where Balance would come in to the picture. “We want to bring our panache in the industry from Cleveland to Wood County,” Polin said. To do that, Polin needs some type of very basic workspace – something with office space, power and connectivity. “I know that sounds primitive,” but that’s all that’s needed, he said. The firm’s Cleveland space is an old factory building. The firm works with entrepreneurs, helping them assess their plans, fill out necessary paperwork, and determine if the project is worth their time and investment. After all, most inventors aren’t good business people, explained Doug Miller, of the Wood County Economic Development Commission which is working to bring Balance here. “They don’t have any idea how to run a business,” Polin agreed. “We bring the management acumen.” The business incubator can help entrepreneurs determine if there is a market for their product, Miller said. “People get focused on their invention,” but if the public won’t buy it, the idea isn’t going anywhere, he said. Sometimes, the dreams need to be tweaked. “We ask the hard questions,” Polin said. “We don’t kill the dream, but we change their idea of what their dream can be.”…


Hotel tax may be hiked to promote BG to more visitors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials want to help fill the local hotel beds, restaurants and stores. But to do that, more funding is needed, according to Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. So on Monday evening, Chambers and the CVB board made a pitch to Bowling Green City Council. They asked council to approve a three-year renewal of the current 3 percent hotel/motel tax, with the CVB continuing to get 60 percent of that tax revenue. The board also asked for an additional 1 percent hotel/motel tax, dedicated to the CVB. Todd McGee, vice chairman of the CVB and general manager at the newly remodeled Best Western Falcon Plaza, explained the tax is paid by visitors to local hotels and motels, and would have no impact on city residents. The additional funding is needed to do more marketing and advertising, to feed the local economy. “This would grow Bowling Green tourism,” McGee said. All the hotel and motel owners in the city support the 1 percent increase, he added. “We are a big destination of sporting events,” with regional youth athletics and BGSU sports filling up local hotels, McGee said. Events such as the Black Swamp Arts Festival, National Tractor Pulling Championships, and concerts also draw overnight guests to the city. “Now is a perfect time for this increase,” McGee said. A new Fairfield Inn recently opened, and another hotel will be constructed soon. His own location, Best Western, just put more than $1 million in renovations. “It is our job to bring people, teams and events to…


Businesses join in Perrysburg Rocks! promotion

Submitted by GATHERING VOLUMES  You may have already discovered a brightly painted rock hiding in a park, on a bench, or beside a flower pot. Painted Rock hunting has become a fun unplugged pastime across the country. A group of 20 local businesses is inviting you to join in the fun with Perrysburg Rocks! this fall. The stores will be hiding hand painted rocks inside their businesses and are inviting you search for the rocks and win prizes. You are even invited to join them and paint a rock to be hidden! Anyone who wishes to paint a rock has two opportunities to do so at local businesses. On Monday, September 25 at 6 p.m. there will be a painting event at Bettyanne’s Things Worth Repeating in downtown Perrysburg. All rocks and necessary painting supplies will be provided. On Thursday, September 28 there will be rocks and painting supplies available all day during the Nationwide Wishing Day celebration at Gathering Volumes. If you wish to paint a rock, please contact Bettyanne’s at (419) 874-9696 or Gathering Volumes at (567) 336-6188 to ensure they will have enough rocks for everyone. Additionally, if you are already a rock painter, you are welcome to drop already painted rocks off at Gathering Volumes to be included in the event. If you are not interested in painting, you are invited to search for the rocks starting on October 1. You can pick up a “Perrysburg Rocks!” passport with the names of all the participating sites, and get your passport stamped or signed when you spot a rock. Collecting store stamps or signatures at fifteen or more businesses will entitle diligent seekers to a small…


Best Western Falcon Plaza celebrates top to bottom renovation

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Best Western Falcon Plaza is always ready with a warm Bowling Green welcome for guests. Doesn’t matter if you’re a rocker playing the Black Swamp Arts Festival, or a hockey player taking on the hometown Falcons, the welcome mat is out. That’s true for Tractor Pullers or someone who just pulled off I-75 for a good night’s rest. It’s true for a teacher from across the globe and someone from a half-mile away attending a business meeting. It’s true for someone who graduated from Bowling Green State University decades ago and a family dropping a student off ready to matriculate at BGSU. “We enjoy being the hometown hotel,” said Todd McGee, the hotel’s general manager. On Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. the hotel, at 1450 E. Wooster, right across from the BGSU campus,  will celebrate its recently completed renovation. The hotel has undergone many upgrades, remodels and additions since McGee’s grandfather Jacob Bishop bought what was then the Woodburn Motel. It had only about a dozen rooms, which went for $4.50 to $6. The name has changed to the Falcon Plaza, and become part of the Best Western chain in 1977. “This renovation we just went through was by far the most comprehensive,” McGee said. “We invested over $1 million.” That meant renovating every room from floor to ceiling, said Niki Carpenter, the desk manager. The hotel has 85 rooms, two meeting rooms, a breakfast room, lobby with 10-foot-tall water feature, and a fitness room – certainly not something Jacob Bishop had to worry about 50 years ago. McGee, who took over…


BG Council approves liquor license transfer with split vote

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Prudy Brott doesn’t mind healthy competition from new restaurants. As owner of Sunset Bistro on the west side of Bowling Green, she is comfortable with competing establishments. However, Brott is troubled by the different rules for the transferring of liquor licenses. Her statements to City Council Tuesday evening resulted in a split vote allowing a new restaurant to bring in a license from another community. When Brott opened up Sunset Bistro, she found getting a liquor license to be time consuming, frustrating and very expensive. In the end, she had to pay $50,000, “and I’ll be paying for it for years.” Brott said she was told she would have to wait until someone owning a liquor license in the city was ready to sell. “I was open for six months before I ever poured a beer in my restaurant,” she said. Liquor licenses are parceled out by the state based on community populations. All the available liquor licenses in Bowling Green for public dine in restaurants are already owned – though not all are in use. Some owners hold onto them as investment tools. She had inquired about purchasing a liquor license from another community, but said she was told that would not be allowed. So when Brott learned of a new pizza place moving to Bowling Green and bringing a liquor license from another community, she was troubled. “I’m not against them having a liquor license whatsoever,” she said. “I’m not against another restaurant in town.” Brott just wants to preserve the value of her investment – which she sees at…


Heringhaus Furniture sold to Wood Lane work program

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After being in the furniture business for more than four decades, Allen Heringhaus wasn’t crazy about selling his store to another company in the same market. “I had mixed emotions,” he said. “I’ve been in the furniture business for 44 years.” Then the perfect buyer came along – Work Leads to Independence, formerly called Wood Lane Industries. “They’re great for the community,” Heringhaus said Friday of the buyer. “They are all about the community. It’s just the right thing.” The furniture store, at 991 S. Main St., Bowling Green, opened in 1973. The Heringhaus home store in Ottawa, Ohio, opened in 1908. Over the years, Heringhaus sold many items to Wood Lane’s residential program. “We’ve had a great relationship with all the Wood Lane people,” he said. Work Leads to Independence plans to combine all its operations under one roof in the 18,000 square foot building sitting on 1.25 acres. The site was purchased for $750,000. “We’re really excited to be in town and on Main Street,” said Vic Gable, CEO of WLI. The new location will allow the agency to consolidate all its work sites of Laser Cartridge Express, Scanning Solutions, Document Destruction, Wood Lane Industries workshop, plus be the headquarters for its recycling and Community Employment Services. “We’re going to all be in one building,” Gable said. “And we’re repurposing a building in town.” Poggemeyer Design Group is working on plans for the building, which Gable hopes is ready to move into by Jan. 1. Modifications will include making a workshop setting in the back and a front showroom for…


Farmers, bar owners, beer drinkers gather to toast BG Beer Works’ all-local brew

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News W.C. Fields made its debut in Bowling Green Monday night. No, a cynical comic zombie W.C. Fields didn’t lumber into town. W.C. Fields is the latest brew from Bowling Green Beer Works, and the name stands for Wood County fields, because that’s where the grain and the hops needed to produce the pilsner originated. Farmers, business proprietors, politicians, and those with a taste for craft beer assembled at the brew pub Monday to celebrate the new beer. Justin Marx, the owner of Bowling Green Beer Works, said the beer was a labor of love made from hops and barley grown locally and brewed by Roger Shope into a traditional German pilsner, the “granddaddy” of American beers. The celebration wasn’t just for its crisp taste with just a hint of those local hops, but for the doors the brew opens for local farmers. Some had come in from the hop yard at the Ag Incubator where hops had been harvested that day. Brad Bergefurd, of the Ohio State Extension Service, said that hops provide another crop for small farmers without the large acreage needed to have a viable corn and soybean operation. Hops are labor intensive, he said. Zack Zientek, who works at the Ag Incubator, testified to that.  He checks the hop vines six times a day. But the price they fetch, Bergefurd said, is higher than corn and soybeans. Hops used to grow in Ohio, he said, until Prohibition killed the demand. Now the Extension Service is exploring bringing hops back to service the burgeoning craft brewing business. He said when and another…


Available liquor licenses for restaurants all dried up in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Liquor licenses are hard to come by in Bowling Green. Just ask Ross and Peter Wiley, who are trying to open a Rapid Fired Pizza restaurant in town. The state parcels out liquor licenses based on community populations. In Bowling Green, all the available licenses for beer, wine and liquor are already issued – except for some still available for carryouts and places of private memberships. Since there are no more available liquor licenses for sit-down establishments for the public in Bowling Green, any new business wanting to serve liquor needs City Council’s blessing in order to purchase a license from another community and use it here. So that leaves the Wileys at the mercy of City Council to allow the company to buy an available liquor license from another city and use it at a Rapid Fired Pizza shop opening soon at 852 S. Main St. The restaurant business, founded in Dayton, already has 20 locations. It specializes in a set up where customers pick out their pizza crusts, sauces and toppings, then have it cooked in three minutes. The Wileys would like to offer craft beer with the pizza. Ideally, the Wileys would like to serve local craft beers through a process called “I Pour It.” The self-pour process scans the customer’s driver’s license for age and weight. The process is used successfully at other locations, they told City Council Monday evening. But some council members voiced concerns about allowing another liquor license in the city. Once the liquor license is transferred to the Bowling Green location, it can then…


Scavenger hunt helps international students discover downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Students from around the world got a chance to explore downtown Bowling Green Wednesday afternoon. The international students from Bowling Green State University came from many countries—France, Taiwan, China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Zimbabwe, Netherlands – just to name a few. A scavenger hunt organized by the Four Corners Center had them searching out all the treasures they could find in the downtown. That included the coffee shops, restaurants, gift shops, restaurants, and even the farmers market. Teams of about half dozen students each buzzed about town. Members of one group said they didn’t have time to talk as they hurried off to find Homeworks. Elisa Erbrech, a business student from Strasbourg, France, said, those on her team were too intent on winning to even stop and taste the cookies and coffee the Wood County Library had set out. And they accomplished their mission. The team was the first to finish. Marcia Salazar-Valentine, the director of International Programs and Partnerships, said the idea behind the scavenger hunt was to introduce the students, all of whom had just arrived at BGSU, to the downtown, and to introduce downtown businesses to the students. “The international students are so important,” said Wendy Chambers, the director of the Wood County Convention Visitors Bureau, one of the Four Corners entities.  “We wanted to welcome them to the community.” BGSU enrolls more than 1,000 foreign students. “I think it takes a while because they have so much to do the first weeks,” Salazar-Valentine said. She remembers arriving as an international student in Bowling Green. “I came downtown and learned so much…


Penta Career Center plans satellite school in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Penta Career Center may soon have a satellite school in Bowling Green. The Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities voted Monday evening to transfer acreage in the Bellard Business Park on the northwest side of the city to the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. Two acres of the business park, near the intersection of Newton and Brim roads, will then be sold to Penta Career Center. Penta plans to construct a building to hold morning and afternoon classes for students who will be able to travel to local employers to continue their training and education. The school is also considering using the facility to offer adult training classes in the future, said Brian O’Connell, director of the city’s public utilities. City council will have a public hearing Monday on an ordinance that will pave the way for the vocational training school use in the city’s zoning code. The Bowling Green Community Development Foundation has been working with Penta Career Center to find a permanent location for a satellite school. The school is seen as a first step for collaboration with business parks for training and workforce development for existing manufacturers. One of the biggest needs expressed by local manufacturers is the lack of a skilled workforce, according to Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. The city owns the acreage in the business park, and the community development foundation markets the properties for sale. Penta’s purchase of two acres leaves 3.1 acres remaining open for development in Bellard Business Park. Also at Monday’s meeting of the Board of…


For Keeps throws a party to mark 20 years of peddling life’s fun, non-essentials

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Amy Craft Ahrens is celebrating 20 years of running For Keeps in downtown Bowling Green, and she wants her customers to have a piece of the action. That’ll be especially true for one lucky customer in particular. As part of the celebration, the shop is holding a party under a tent Saturday Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop is handing out puzzle pieces. One of those pieces will complete a puzzle on display in the party tent. The person who gets the piece will receive a $250 gift card. Another 50 prizes will be given out as part of puzzle game. Craft Ahrens said that every year she has a sale to mark the anniversary of the opening of the store, but this year being a milestone she decided to expand the celebration. There’ll be cookies from the Cookie Jar, in keeping with Craft Ahrens’ shop local philosophy. Mimosas until their gone and beer, wine and soft drinks. Grab bags for $1, $3, $5 and $10 containing “a hodgepodge of goodies” worth at least twice the price. Customers can participate in a trivia contest about the store with questions such as how many women named Amy have worked there. And there’ll be goats. Craft Ahrens fancies goats, and when she was in Boston to run in the marathon earlier this year, the hotel she was staying in had goats, so she thought: “Why can’t I?” The sale will run from Friday through Sunday. Balloons will be strewn about the floor, and inside will be a tag denoting a discount from…


Pop’s Seafood reels in customers with fresh perch, walleye

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years, Brandon Keiser has been at home on the water, reeling in perch, walleye and more exotic fish. Now, he finds himself in the kitchen, cooking up fish for customers. Keiser has combined his two loves – cooking and fish – into his business called Pop’s Seafood. The restaurant is named after his father, Jim Keiser, who also shares a love for fishing and worked for a period as a charter captain on Lake Erie. “It’s been something we kicked around the last few years,” Brandon Keiser said of the restaurant in Bowling Green’s Greenwood Centre, 1616 E. Wooster St. “Bowling Green needed something other than pizza, wings and fast food,” he said. The restaurant features Lake Erie perch and walleye, as well as shrimp, hush puppies, fries and tater tots.  The fish is fresh – at least until the lake freezes over. The fish is hand-breaded and deep-fried in rice oil, which means it’s far less greasy. “It’s been a hit,” Keiser said. “As for deep-fried, it’s the healthiest you can get.” The servings are large, and Keiser is trying to hook more customers by offering all-you-can-eat fish and shrimp specials. The winner so far for shrimp-eating is one customer who downed 100 shrimp. “He’s got the record so far. He’s up on our Facebook page,” Keiser said. “I want people to go away full and satisfied,” he said. The restaurant’s décor features stuffed fish, lobster traps, nets and photographs of Keiser’s family fishing outings. “We wanted it to be a very friendly, fun atmosphere, feeling like you’re at the…


Farming & food are a family affair for the Froboses

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bob Frobose’s father didn’t want to keep his son on the farm. After a few bad years, Frobose said, his father sold his herd when he retired in 1974. When Frobose graduated from high school in 1971, and decided not to go to college where he hoped to play basketball, he stayed in the food industry, training to be a meat cutter in a small grocery chain. He’s still a meat cutter, but now he owns the store. And he raises the cattle he processes. He had no problem keeping his own sons in agriculture. All three – Ben, Jake and Zack – are involved in the family business, which now has a number of enterprises. And with grandchildren now romping around the barn, they look forward to this being a fifth generation operation. Frobose told the family’s story during a Food Processing from Farm to Plate event, sponsored by the Wood County Farm Bureau earlier this month. The tour began fittingly in the Frobose barn in Pemberville. “Dad had made it pretty clear that after he retired he didn’t want me to have anything to do with farming,” Frobose said. “He felt there were better opportunities off the farm.” Frobose said he had a good upbringing on the farm though. Both working with the animals, and shooting baskets wherever he could hang a hoop. He joked that now he could tell everyone he was a good player because no one remembers otherwise. “You’re still good,” a grandson chimed up. His father’s attitude toward agriculture didn’t mellow at all in his old age. When…


County site tops state list of acreage ready to develop

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some open ground in northeastern Wood County has made it on the short list of top acreage ripe and ready for development in Ohio. A 224-acre area in the Eastwood Commerce Center has been designated as one of Ohio’s first “SiteOhio Authenticated” sites. The acreage, just north of the new Home Depot warehouse, is located off Pemberville Road, south of U.S. 20. “This means the site has undergone a comprehensive usability audit, has gone through all the necessary due diligence, and is now ready for immediate development. This gives the Wood County site a major competitive advantage because it saves businesses which are looking to expand/relocate time and money – increasing their speed to market,” said John Gibney, Northwest Regional Growth Partnership vice president of communications and marketing. JobsOhio and its regional partners announced Tuesday that eight Ohio sites have been named SiteOhio authenticated. When a project is verified with the SiteOhio seal, it is guaranteed to be ready for development on day one, saving businesses time and money. The project designates properties within the state that have infrastructure and utilities already in place, avoiding incompatible use and ensuring the property can get to market faster. Each site undergoes a usability audit to ensure it is intuitively positioned for optimal access. “They made sure it had everything ready to build on should a company decide to locate there,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. Locations throughout Ohio were evaluated by an independent site consultant from South Carolina, Gottschalk said. The review found the Eastwood Commerce Center,…