Economy

Soybean farmers look beyond current strife to innovative future

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News These are trying times for soybean farmers. A trade dispute between the United States and China has cut out their largest trading partner. Government help has mitigated the loss, but the damage is real. Local farmer Nathan Eckel, though, was not obsessing on present concerns when he addressed the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club Thursday. An active member of the Ohio Soybean Council, he was eager to talk about the future.  The council, paid for by fees assessed to the farmers, is engaged in making sure farmers like Eckel can keep their operations in business.  Eckel is a fifth generation farmer — Eckel Junction Road was named for the family’s original plot. He also raises other commodity crops and has a 800-head livestock operation, on the 2,000 acres he farms. The future, he told club members, includes funding research into new ways to use soybean. The plant now is used in biodiesel, human food, and animal feed. Eckel, who as a trustee of the council chairs its research committee, said the council is active in funding corporate and academic research.  That research includes replacing petroleum-based oils with sustainable and biodegradable soy oil products. A soy-based floor coating has just come to market, he said. Another project is the development of soy fish meal for fish farms in India.  The research committee sends out calls for proposals, and then writes grants for the most promising projects. “We expect a return on the investment we make,”  Eckel said. The council plugs in money at the very early stages and keeps providing equity until the product goes to market. Then, he said, “we start getting our royalties.” One use of those royalties is funding scholarships through the Ohio Soybean Association, a policy body separately funded by members.  Last year the association awarded $45,000 in scholarships.  Those scholars may not end up growing soybeans, but may instead do research or work in some other agriculture-related occupation. The council is also active in programs to teach young people about agriculture. Through Grow Next Gen, Eckel has conducted virtual farm tours…

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Earth Week speaker: People favor protections, but not if labeled ‘job-killing regulations’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lana Pollack got her first taste of government regulation, or protection as she prefers to call it, when she was a girl watching beef being butchered. As the Lamb Peace lecturer, Pollack, who chairs the U.S. section, International Joint Commission, kicked off Earth Week at Bowling Green State University posing the question: “If protections are good, why are regulations bad?” Certainly her father who ran a grocery store and butcher shop in rural western Michigan didn’t appreciate the state inspector who stood by while he and his help processed a beef carcass. Her father, Pollack said, was the kind of person who fed a lot of people whether they could pay their bills or not. Once a week he’d go to the cattle auction and buy a couple steers, which he’d bring back. Pollack said she went along, and watched the processing. “I know where my meat comes from.” She could see her father was “aggravated” by the inspector and his seemingly petty demands. In his later years, his daughter asked him if the state regulations made his ground beef or hot dogs any better. No, he said. “But it kept the guy down the road from adding sawdust to his hot dogs.” The consumer wasn’t protected from an ethical business like the one her father ran, but from the unethical ‘guy down the road.” That holds true for the environment as well, including the Great Lakes. That’s why the EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Environmental Regulatory Agency. People like “protection,” she said. They think far less of regulations, especially when they are so constantly referred to as “job-killing regulations.” That phrase is tossed around so much that it almost becomes one word. It’s a favorite of conservative lobbying efforts like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “Words matter,” Pollack said. It’s not like businesses, including agribusiness, are opposed to government action, she said. They’re fine with it as long as it benefits them. While agribusiness may fight rules aimed at controlling the run-off of phosphorus from fields that causes toxic algae…


Automation & robotics focus of State of Region Conference

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS As online ordering giant Amazon adds automated fulfillment centers around the country and fast-food restaurants pilot automated ordering kiosks, questions arise about the impact on jobs and employment. Will more people or fewer be needed, and will robots take over roles usually held by humans in an increasingly automated workplace? The Center for Regional Development (CRD) at Bowling Green State University will address these concerns at the 16th annual State of the Region Conference Monday, April 16. This year’s theme is “The Implications of Automation for Economic Development” and features speakers from Amazon, APT Manufacturing Solutions, SpinGlass and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The conference runs from 8 a.m. to noon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Levis Commons, Perrysburg. Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) will give opening remarks at 9 a.m. following breakfast and networking. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Register at bgsu.edu/crd. The 2018 conference will provide an overview of economic conditions in the region as well as data and analytics on the current workforce in northwest Ohio. It will also provide insights to economic development and elected officials in northwest Ohio about the impact of automation on workforce development efforts. “Our goal with the State of the Region conference is to highlight the critical economic issues facing our region today and in the future,” said Will Burns, CRD interim director. “Increased automation in our lives and work environments has potentially paradigm-shifting consequences for the future of work in our nation and region,” said Dr. Russell Mills, CRD Research Fellow. Giving the State of the Region address will be Guhan Venkatu, group vice president in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He leads the department’s regional analysis and outreach group. Venkatu joined the bank in 1998 as a research analyst and has held positions of increasing responsibility, including economist and vice president and senior regional officer of the bank’s Pittsburgh branch. Dr. Eric Daimler, an artificial intelligence expert and CEO of SpinGlass, will deliver the keynote address. A leading authority in robotics and artificial intelligence with over 20 years…


Workshop at BGSU advocates for socially responsible investing

From SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING WORKSHOP Most investors do not know what companies they own as part of their investment portfolios holding mutual funds. That is not good.   To address that problem, a group of northwest Ohio activists has spent a year putting together a two-hour workshop at BGSU. The Socially Responsible Investing Workshop will be held Tuesday, April 24, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in room 201 in the Bowling  Green State University student union. The workshop is being hosted by: Nick Hennessey, director of BGSU Office of Sustainability; Professor Enrique Gomez del Campo, Department of Environmental Sustainability; Professor Neocles Leontis, Department of Chemistry;  Josh Mudse, CFP Munn Wealth Management; and Professor Emeritus Tom Klein, English Department. Panel members will be: Darren Munn, CFA, Chief Investment Officer, Camelot Portfolios; Owaiz Dadabhoy, Director of Islamic Investing, Saturna Capital; and Robert Huesman, CFA, CFP, Senior Investment Associate, 1919 Investment Counsel. Socially responsible investing is a strategy that had a dramatic birth in the 1970s when investors began divesting from companies operating under South African apartheid.  It has become very popular over the last three decades, considering both financial return and social and environmental good.  Since 2012 such investing has grown in popularity, with a 135% increase in assets under management to $8.72 trillion.  Today there are about 500 such funds. Specifically, it’s possible to promote positive change by investing in companies advocating clean energy, social justice and environmental sustainability.    Many funds give the investor the choice of what to avoid or invest in.   For example, choices can include harmful industries such as fossil fuels, civilian and military weapons, tobacco, GMO producers and nuclear energy; they can also include support for companies that help the poor start businesses such as the work of micro-finance in Africa. The three most important goals of sustainable investing are to protect the planet, protect our communities and families, and protect our portfolios.


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 value of goods is not intrinsic but subjective. He then showed a slide with a quotation from Austrian economist Ludwig…


BG lacks vacant industries, unemployment – but it’s got location

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The lack of empty industrial buildings and the low unemployment rate in Bowling Green are both good qualities. But those two positives work as negatives when new companies are researching future locations for their businesses. Bowling Green has a primary positive going for it when potential businesses scout out new sites. Its location on Interstate 75 draws a lot of attention to the city. But the absence of available workers and the shortage of vacant industrial spaces are working against the city, according to Sue Clark, director of the Bowling Green Economic Development. The city is getting a lot of interest from businesses, Clark told city council and administration members Saturday during a work session. And her office is working to expand the options for prospective businesses. The city currently has four business parks: The largest is the Woodbridge Business Park at Dunbridge and East Poe roads on the northeast edge of Bowling Green. John Quinn Tech Park off Napoleon Road, near Dunbridge Road, on the southeast edge of the city. Bellard Business Center, which is nearly out of space, located on Brim Road between Newton and Bishop roads, on the northwest side of the city. Hoffman Commerce Park, also on the northwest side of the city, at the opposite corner of Newton and Brim roads. The city has been working on an expansion of Woodbridge, purchasing more acreage and planning for a new roadway connecting the business sites to Bowling Green Road East. That is especially needed since that only public entrance and exit to the business park is currently on Dunbridge Road. Moser Construction just built a warehouse structure in the park. And NovaVision is buying 3.9 acres for a future expansion there. “They are a young, very aggressive, very fast-growing company,” Clark said of NovaVision. The economy is “hot,” she said. “Companies I’m talking to now are looking for expansions everywhere.” And Bowling Green’s location puts it on their radar. “The interest out there is tremendous, especially with the widening of I-75,” Clark said. With the building of the…


Citizens ask Latta to stop deportation of ‘dreamers’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two months ago, Beatriz Maya sat in U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office waiting for answers on where the congressman stands on deporting “dreamers.” She is still waiting. Maya, executive director of La Conexion, was back in Latta’s Bowling Green office on Monday, this time asking to show the congressman the economic and human side of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.) She and eight others delivered a letter encouraging Latta to talk to local employers who can’t find enough workers to fill jobs, and to families who are at risk of being torn apart. “If he hears their personal stories, we are confident that he will get a different story than what he is hearing in Washington,” she said. Maya wants Latta to meet the local young man who grew up in Wood County, learned carpentry at Penta Career Center, and now works for Rudolph-Libbe. He has no criminal record, yet he is at risk of being deported. “There is nothing you can find in him that would warrant deportation,” she said. Earlier this fall, President Donald Trump announced he would end the DACA program in six months if Congress doesn’t find a more permanent solution. Since it was enacted under President Barack Obama, about 800,000 immigrants who were children when they arrived in the U.S. illegally have received protections from the program. DACA allows young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study and obtain driver’s licenses. Many of the “dreamers” have been here since they were babies, and America is the only country they know. Those signing up for DACA must show that they have clean criminal records. Their status is renewable every two years. Bowling Green’s city administration has voiced its support of DACA, and has proclaimed the city as a welcoming place for immigrants. But when asked about his stance in September, the local citizens were told that Latta was waiting to make a decision until Speaker Paul Ryan’s task force had studied…