Business

Speaker encourages conservatives to extol the virtues of the free market

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In a building tucked away in the Wood County Fairgrounds, area conservatives gathered to hear a message they feel has too long been hidden. The topic of the evening’s talk, hosted by the Wood County Young Republicans, was the moral case for capitalism. Set aside talk about greed is good, they’d rather talk about self- free markets have resulted in lifting the economic fortunes of people around the world. That was the message of Jeb Morris, a senior trainer with the Grassroots Leadership Academy, an affiliate of Americans for Prosperity. He had a willing audience of about 15 people. In the ice-breaker before his talk he asked them to name someone, living or dead, whom they would like to dine with. Several attendees said their spouses, and Jesus had been put off limits. The others mentioned Lincoln and Washington, economist Milton Friedman, writers J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, basketball coach Bobby Knight, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza and radio host Rush Limbaugh. Despite the blandishments of the left, which for Morris includes Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and most of all Bernie Sanders, the way to lift people out of poverty is free enterprise. With charts and graphs and quotations flashing on the screen, he maintained that as economic freedom has expanded world poverty has plummeted. “Economic freedom has lifted more people out of poverty” than any other system, he said. This means improvements in quality of life for people around the globe. Morris traced this process starting with women’s underwear. Sam Walton founded his business on finding products, such as women’s underwear, that he could purchase wholesale for the cheapest price, allowing him to pass that onto his customers. He didn’t do this, Morris said, “to be altruistic.” Walton did it because it was in his self-interest, just as it is in the self-interest of his customers to purchase his low cost goods. At the root of this, Morris said, is the notion that the…


Wood County healthy, but facing some challenges

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s finances are strong – but they are facing some heavy lifting in the next few years. The county is staring down a potential $4.2 million bill for new voting machines, $6 million to renovate the booking area of the county jail, and more than it can afford to fix its road and bridge repairs. But the county commissioners assured their audience at the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce’s State of the County Address on Tuesday that Wood County government is quite healthy. The combination of conservative spending and the highest ever sales tax revenue of $21.7 million last year has positioned the county on solid ground, Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. Business looking bright Wood County businesses are thriving, with many upping production and updating machinery, Commissioner Craig LaHote said. The issue now is the shortage of employees to fill new positions. “That’s a good problem to have,” he said. LaHote specifically mentioned growth at First Solar in Perrysburg Township, and a $16 million expansion promising 100 jobs at Continental Structural Plastics in North Baltimore – a company that was considered close to failing a few years ago. The numbers at county building inspection reached a record high, Wood Haven Health Care has seen major renovations, glass recycling was reinstated last year, and permanent satellite recycling stations will be opened this summer. Efforts are underway to establish the Toledo Area Water Authority, which would regionalize the Toledo system and potentially serve the northern part of Wood County. “As commissioners, we believe a cooperative approach is best,” LaHote said. However, if Toledo fails to approve the project, Wood County has other options, he added. Expenses on the horizon All electronic voting machines in Ohio must be replaced by the 2020 election. That comes with a hefty price tag of $4.2 million. The commissioners are working with state legislators to find state funding to help with the expense. The county is also facing…


Food truck meeting gives BG officials a lot to digest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The committee studying food trucks in Bowling Green got a heaping serving of advice from a wide range of food providers Monday evening. They heard from the owners of a burger bar, family diner, fast food site, and the chef at a country club. They also heard from food truck owners who sell everything from perch and grilled cheese, to grilled lamb chops and lobster macaroni & cheese. And all of them seemed to want to find a way that brick and mortar restaurants can not only survive, but can benefit from having food trucks in the city. “I’m here to find out how we have to adapt to compete,” said George Strata, who owns Beckett’s Burger Bar and Call of the Canyon with his wife, Phina Strata. “Competition is good,” as long as it’s fair, he added. A current city ordinance allows food trucks on private property, but not on public property within 150 feet of a right-of-way. A committee made up of Bowling Green City Council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino, is studying if those rules should be changed to make it feasible for food trucks to set up in the city. Herald asked for input on where trucks should be allowed, the specific hours of operation, the duration of operations, and how many locations may be used? Food truck operators abide by a “code of the road,” Herald said, but some specific rules may be in order. “We’re in the process of trying to see what’s feasible in town,” Zanfardino said. Russ Courtney, owner of Rusty’s Roadtrip which sets up weekly in Perrysburg and once a year at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green, suggested that the rules not be made too restrictive. “If the law gets convoluted enough, people will say, ‘Forget it,’” Courtney said. The city of Perrysburg has no rules limiting the days of operation, said Phil Barone, owner of Rosie’s…


More jobs may be headed for Wood County – but are there workers to fill them?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County has an enviable good news-bad news dilemma. The good news – Wood County is being eyed by companies that would create 1,400 new jobs here. The bad news – Wood County may have a hard time filling those jobs. Wade Gottschalk, director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, met with the county commissioners last week to give them an update on projects in the county. “We’ve been very busy,” he said. But the potential for so many new jobs has county officials worried about an unusual dilemma. With its low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, that means there are just over 2,000 unemployed adults in Wood County. “Our current issue is workforce,” Gottschalk told the county commissioners. “It’s really a matter of we need people to move to Northwest Ohio.” The state overall is experiencing the same problem. “They are working to find bodies for these companies,” he said. Two of the biggest potential projects in Wood County are in the Perrysburg area. Gottschalk predicted those companies won’t have difficulty filling positions since they will be offering high-paying jobs. However, the new openings may drain employees from other lower-paying companies. “We’re going to work very hard on the backfill,” he said. Wood County benefits from having a variety of industries, such as solar, machine shops and robotics. “We have a very diverse base of companies,” Gottschalk said. The region’s low cost of living coupled with relatively easy commuting patterns help by drawing workers from a broader region outside Wood County. “It gives us a larger area to attract from,” he said. Gottschalk briefed the commissioners on the companies looking to possibly add jobs in Wood County. The Walgreens distribution center, at Ohio 795 and Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township, is considering an expansion that would add approximately 350 new jobs. “It would be a substantial investment,” creating good paying jobs, Gottschalk said. But Gottschalk cautioned that the expansion is…


BG Council committee chews on food truck information

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents are hungry for food trucks in the city. And Phil Barone thinks he has a menu that might please their palates. Barone, who has owned Rosie’s Italian Grille in Toledo for 36 years, has a food truck that serves customers in Perrysburg and Toledo. “To be honest about it, I’ve been looking in Bowling Green,” said Barone, who is a BGSU alumnus. But Bowling Green’s food truck rules are too restrictive, he told city officials Saturday during a work session examining the city’s food truck ordinance. No food vendors are allowed on public property – unlike other communities where food trucks can set up in parking lots or in street parking spots. The city of Toledo first balked at changing its ordinance, Barone said. “I got a lot of flack. The restaurants didn’t like us there,” he said. But the food trucks have transformed St. Clair Street every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during lunch time. Now instead of just a handful of people venturing out to eat on St. Clair, the food trucks draw about 1,500 during lunchtime. “People come out like ants. It’s fun to watch,” Barone said. Barone heads up a food truck association which has 11 members. Their menus offer items like grilled baby lamb chops, lobster mac and cheese, cauliflower crust pizza, Cuban food, steamed mussel salad, perch, cappuccino, and ice cream. “Food trucks aren’t just serving corn dogs,” Barone said. The committee examining Bowling Green’s food truck rules – made up of council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino – has heard from citizens wanting food truck options, from local business owners concerned about the impact on their livelihoods, and from prospective food truck owners who would like to set up their mobile shops here. “I’m hearing from a lot of people,” Rowland said. “The citizens say ‘Yes, we want them.’” Some downtown businesses also would like to see food trucks. “We…


Two Foxes mixologist Hilary Packard in the mix for whiskey cocktail honors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hilary Packard worked her way through Southern Illinois University Carbondale as bartender. Once she graduated with a degree in math and physics she thought she’d work in an office or a lab putting her knowledge to use. Instead she found, she drawn back to bartending. So now Packard puts her calculating abilities to work as a mixologist. She’s the general manager of Two Foxes, a gastropub in downtown Bowling Green. She’s been concocting seasonal cocktails for the bar since early June. “I’m still using the same skill set,” she said, “logic and problem solving and critical thinking.” Now she’s decided to put her skills to the test against some of her peers from top markets in the country. On Monday she’ll travel to Columbus to take part in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience. She’s one of 10 mixologists from the region selected to compete. At stake for the regional winners is an “immersive three-day experience” to the Woodford distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, and beyond that a trip to New York to compete with about 40 other winning mixologists from the United States and Canada. And, of course, there’s the “street cred” that comes with matching her skills with large market mixologists. Packard learned about the event through liquor.com. “It seemed like a really good opportunity to showcase my skills with whiskey,” she said. She had to submit her recipes for her ideal version of the classic Manhattan and a cocktail of her own creation. Each had to use a Woodford bourbon, at least one, the basic Woodford Reserve. Packard used that in the Manhattan. For her custom drink, she used Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. This was not a matter of just pulling stuff off the shelves and mixing it.  One of the advantages mixologists in cities have is greater access to ingredients. In creating these blends, Packard made her own ingredients from scratch. That meant for her The Tokyo Throwback Manhattan blending her own…


BG Community Action Plan to fix up neighborhoods

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s leaders got a glimpse of the city’s possible future Wednesday evening. A future of healthy neighborhoods; homes for families, students and everyone in between; a strong business base; access to health and fitness – all adding up to a positive first impression for visitors and prospective residents. But those changes will take lots of time, lots of work, and lots of money. “I’m a big believer in the planning process,” City Council member Bruce Jeffers said after the presentation of the finished Community Action Plan. “When you plant a tree, you don’t plant it for yourself. You plant it for your children and your grandchildren,” Jeffers said. This plan is similar in that it will take decades to implement. The city, university, private business people and citizens will be asked to help by offering their expertise, investments and elbow grease. The CAP, which suggests goals for seven areas of the city, was presented to City Council and the Planning Commission by Adam Rosa, of the Camiros consulting firm. The proposal offered some specific ideas that could benefit the East Side neighborhoods and the community as a whole, such as: Diversify the housing stock, invest in new housing and reinvest in the existing stock. Set up a rental registration program that would help improve the housing conditions with information about rental available to students and others on a data base. Establish a Community Development Corporation to help move along larger projects. Offer small mini-grants of about $5,000 or so, to help neighborhood associations spruce up areas. Change some zoning codes and reduce parking requirements to stimulate reinvestment. Set up a rehabbers network program and a tool lending library. “There’s a lot of power at the neighborhood level,” Rosa said. Create attractive, formal entryways to campus. Build a hike-bike trail along a creek on the East Side of town. Rosa did more than paint a picture for the city officials and citizens…


Food trucks stir up worry for brick and mortar restaurants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It was the battle between hot dogs and Philly cheese steaks Monday during the first meeting tackling the food truck issue in Bowling Green. Brick and mortar restaurants and mobile food trucks manage to co-exist in other communities – so Bowling Green is looking for the secret recipe to allow both to operate in this city. But the common ground for rooted and wheeled restaurants may take awhile to find. “We’re all in the same boat,” said Aaron Evanoff as he talked about his plan for a hot dog food truck. “We’re not in the same boat,” Jim Gavarone, owner of Mr. Spots, disagreed from the audience. The current city ordinance permits food trucks, but requires them on private property with large setbacks in some areas, and only during limited hours. The rules have been found to be too cumbersome, so a City Council committee has been charged with finding a middle ground that can work for citizens, existing brick and mortar restaurants and mobile vendors. Monday was the first meeting of the Public Lands and Buildings Committee, made up of council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino. The committee will meet again on Saturday for a “really good roll up your sleeves working session” from 8 to 11 a.m., in the council chambers. Zanfardino said many more meetings will have to be held before recommendations can be made to council. “I’m hoping we can have it done sooner rather than later,” Herald said. “But not so quick that we stifle public input.” “It’s very important that we get public input. You don’t want to leave it up to us,” Herald said. The committee will study actions that would allow food trucks to operate, while benefiting the public , promoting entrepreneurship, adding to a strong downtown, and enhancing citizens’ experiences. The group will look for a balance that will not hurt existing restaurants and maintain a vibrant downtown. Rowland talked…


BG Council cooking up legislation to allow food trucks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council is trying to come up with a winning recipe for legislation allowing food trucks to do business in the community. The first public meetings to devise food truck legislation will be held Monday, Feb. 26, at 5 p.m., and Saturday, March 3, at 9 a.m., both in the city council chambers. The public is welcome at both meetings, said council member Bill Herald, who is leading the committee in charge of the legislation. For years, food truck businesses have shown interest in setting up shop in Bowling Green, but with no success. In 2016, Mac Henry told City Council he would like to open up a food truck business, but that the city ordinance is too restrictive. Henry said the ordinance limits hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and restricts food trucks to 150 feet from the throughway. The rules are “not very conducive to opening a food truck in this town,” he said. Henry said food trucks are currently “a big part of the culinary innovation” going on in the nation. Council member John Zanfardino agreed with Henry that changes were in order. “Right now our ordinance is totally prohibitive, if you get right down to it,” he said back in 2016, mentioning the growing trend of food trucks. “I think it’s a coming thing.” Council member Sandy Rowland noted the success of food trucks in Perrysburg, where the businesses set up one evening a week. “It might be an opportunity to provide people with something to do,” she said. Henry said he realized mobile food businesses can be a “touchy subject,” since they are seen as competition for brick and mortar restaurants already in business. But food trucks offer young people a chance to break into the business, he said. In 2017, Aaron Evanoff returned from overseas deployment and came to City Council with his plan. His dream was to start a hotdog…


BG pursues second solar field – for community power

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The City of Bowling Green sees a bright future for more solar power. The problem is finding big open areas for another solar field. The city could use some land it has purchased over the years for economic development. But Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell pointed out that while solar fields generate green energy, they do not generate long-term jobs. The city could use some of the 70 acres left at its current solar field on Carter Road, northeast of the city. But that property may be needed for land application of biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant. “With a solar project, you need a lot of land,” O’Connell said to the board of utilities Monday evening. So the city has approached the Wood County commissioners about using county land for another solar field. There are currently 71.5 open acres on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane. Approximately 51.5 acres are owned by the county and 20 by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The land is currently rented out as farmland. Both Wood County and the Board of Developmental Disabilities are interested in the solar project, O’Connell said. And they aren’t alone, according to Mayor Dick Edwards, who commended O’Connell and Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of the city utilities department, for pursuing an agreement to use the county land. “There’s real strong community interest in another solar project,” Edwards said. A three-year contract for the acreage was presented to the board of public utilities Monday evening. If the solar field becomes a reality, it would likely be a “community solar” project – which means Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project and get their electricity from the solar field, O’Connell said. That would make this different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads. Bowling Green gets a…


Two BG sites file to be medical marijuana dispensaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two locations in Bowling Green are being reviewed as a possible site for a medical marijuana dispensary. The state has been divided into four quadrants for medical marijuana sales – with Northwest Ohio to have 10 dispensaries. The region has been broken into districts, with Wood, Hancock and Henry counties being combined into one district to be allowed one dispensary. No applicants filed for locations in Hancock or Henry counties. So that leaves Wood County to host a dispensary. The three applications filed with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy are for sites at: 106 E. Napoleon Road, Bowling Green, with the business name of Debbie’s Dispensary, filed by Sara Presler. 1155 N. Main St., Bowling Green, with the business name of Glass City Alternatives, filed by Mark Jacobs. 2701 Woodville Road, Northwood, with the business name of Serenity Dispensary, filed by Deitra Hickey. House Bill 523, the Ohio law that in 2016 legalized marijuana for medical use only, tasked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy with determining which locations should be approved as dispensaries. A total of potential 376 sites were submitted, though just 60 will be approved, according to Grant Miller, spokesperson with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The law requires 500 feet between any marijuana business and a school, church, public library or public playground. “We have to make sure they are complying with the rule,” Miller said on Monday. “It’s an in depth process. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into the application.” The selected dispensary locations will be announced this spring, he said. There will not be an opportunity for the public to comment on the applications prior to their selection, Miller said. All the applicants were required to show the sites had proper commercial zoning, and that the community had not enacted a moratorium on the sale of medical marijuana. “When it comes to dispensaries and the way they interact with areas, it’s really up to…


Baby, it’s cold outside, so why not celebrate?

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News During a season when the temptation is stay bundled up at home, Bowling Green’s Winterfest BG Chillabration gives folks a reason to brave the cold. On Saturday afternoon, visitors could alternate between experiencing the chill as they strolled through the ice sculpture garden or ride around the downtown in an open horse-drawn trolley. They could warm up in the heated Chillabration tent where bands had started performing mid-afternoon, or view high school art work on display in the Four Corners Center. Another option was to stop for a bite to eat at a local restaurant or do some shopping. Aaron and Molli Blachuta had done a bit of all of that. The event gave the couple and their 19-month-old son Blaiden “a change to get out of the house and give the little man a walk,” the dad said. Molli Blachuta had seen an announcement on Facebook. “It’s always nice to find something we can take him to.” That’s harder to do in the winter. They also ate lunch at Sam B’s before taking the carriage ride. They were going to stop into Ben Franklin before heading home. Jayan Karunarathna, a doctoral student in photochemical sciences from Sri Lanka, said he likes coming downtown for any of the events, whether Winterfest or Black Swamp Arts Festival. Winter events are especially appreciated. He checked out the ice sculptures created to advertise local businesses and services. He said he was going to go back to campus and bring friends down to hear more of the music in the Chillabration tent. “I think it’s good to have things like this … so people can hang around and meet new people,” he said. Earlier in the day the tent had featured about 10 vendor tables. The fair was an innovation in Winterfest’s 10th year. By 4 p.m. it had been transformed into a music venue with Ginger and the Snaps the opening act for a lineup that would…


‘Chocolate Crawl’ proves to be a sweet success

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Downtown Bowling Green has seen its share of bar crawls. But Friday’s crawl was different – this one was for chocolate craving patrons. “We’re getting chocolate wasted tonight,” Brenda Rausch said with a smile, as she and friends left a store after gathering a chocolate treat. The Chocolate Crawl, which kicked off Bowling Green’s Winterfest Chillabration weekend, involved 18 downtown stores, and raised money for United Way of Wood County. Since this was the first Chocolate Crawl in Bowling Green, the thought was to start out small. But once the word was out, the tickets went like – well, candy. The goal to sell 200 tickets was quickly surpassed, with the sales finally cut off at 400. “We could have sold a lot more tickets,” said Sue Clanton, director of the United Way in Wood County. Participants were given golden tickets promising “chocolate treats beyond your wildest dreams.” They were also given downtown maps with red hearts signifying each of the 18 businesses handing out chocolate delicacies. The stores participating in the Chocolate Crawl provided their own treats, Clanton said. “They came up with whatever they wanted to serve,” she said. For Waddington Jewelers, that meant a chocolate fountain. For the Cookie Jar, that meant chocolate cookies warm from the oven. And for Reverend’s Bar & Grill, that meant choco-tinis – at least for those crawlers over age 21. “Everybody’s come up with something unique,” Clanton said. As Brenda Rausch, Pam Irwin, Jolynn Feather and Erika Harris made their way on the crawl, they visited shops they had not been in before. “I’m going to come back here,” Rausch said about the Painted Clovers shop. “It’s a great thing for the community to bring people downtown,” Irwin said. About an hour into the Chocolate Crawl, the women’s favorite was the chocolate cupcakes from Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Retro. Later along the chocolate tour, the group had a new favorite – the chocolate…


Chamber sponsoring webinar on sexual harasssment, Feb. 28

From BOWLING GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce announces a Webinar presented in partnership with The Employers’ Association. This Webinar will be held February 28th at 8 a.m. Registrants can participate from anywhere via personal devices. “Let’s Talk About Sexual Harassment, Baby! Moving Beyond Compliance to Creating a Culture of Respect and Civility in the Workplace” During this webinar, participants will learn: • How to promote respect and civility in the workplace • The importance of Leadership and Accountability in preventing harassment • How to avoid the perils of “Complicit silence” • Tips for updating your company’s sexual harassment training The wave of recent sexual harassment scandals has prompted many companies to evaluate their sexual-harassment training programs. The allegations have shown how ignoring this problem can have devastating effects on victims as well as bystanders, can destroy organizational culture, and damage your company reputation. But, workplace harassment training that simply focuses on eliminating unwelcome or offensive behavior based on characteristics such as race or gender is not enough. To stop harassment, companies must go beyond compliance training and make a commitment to promote respect and civility in the workplace. This is a free event, but reservations are required by Monday February 26. On February 26 registrants will be given a call in code for the Webinar. RSVP by contacting Marissa Muniz at MarissaMuniz@bgchamber.net or by calling (419) 353-7945. This event is presented by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Business Council in partnership with The Employers’ Association.


BG Winterfest celebrates 10th year

From WINTERFEST BG CHILLABRATION  Bowling Green invites you to the Coolest Weekend of the Year during the 10th Annual Winterfest BG Chillabration full of winter themed activities for everyone. We will kick things off downtown with the merchants Chocolate Crawl Fundraiser for the United Way on February 9th. The Frozen Swamp Tent will be a Winter Market by day and host live music, beer, wine and refreshments by night on February 10th on the corner of S. Main St. and Clough. Also on the 10th downtown the Ice Garden will highlight ice sculptures and carving demonstrations with Mascots of all kinds on hand to greet the kids. This three-day fun-filled community event also features Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides, 1BookBG Trivia, Chili & Soup Cook-Off, Frostbite Fun Run, Cookie Creations, Youth Dodge Ball, the new Black Swamp Curling Center Learn to Curl, Window Youth Art Exhibition, Four Corners Gallery BGHS Art Exhibit and WC Library events to include Solar over Smores and I Heart Ohio Scavenger Hunt. The Slater Family Ice Arena will be hosting Bobcat hockey and public skating. FRIDAY • 10 a.m. -7 p.m. BGHS Art Show, Four Corners Gallery • 3:45 – 6 p.m. Youth Dodgeball, Grades 3-8th, BG Community Center • 5-9 p.m. Chocolate Crawl Fundraiser, participating merchants downtown funds going to United Way (tickets available at Downtown BG, Merchants and United Way) • 6 p.m. BGHS Bobcat Hockey vs. St. Johns, Slater Family Ice Arena (ticket required) • 7-8:50 p.m. Public Skate, Slater Family Ice Arena (skate rental available) SATURDAY • 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. I Heart Ohio Scavenger Hunt, WC Public Library Second Floor • 10 a.m. -2 p.m. Winter Market in the Frozen Swamp Tent offering vendors of all kinds, BIGGBY coffee & hot cocoa, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 11 a..m 1 mile Frostbite Fun Run, City Park (pre-registration & fee) 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Ice Carving Demonstrations by Ice Creations, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Mascots in Ice,…