Economy

BG, county need to present ‘welcoming’ face to attract workers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A few years ago it was the lack of jobs in this region that was troubling. Now it’s the lack of people to fill the jobs being created here. So Bowling Green officials are looking to team up with Wood County to attract immigrants and millennials to the region.  Last week, the two entities discussed how to compete to attract those workers. “Employment issues are still top of the line,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “It’s an issue we’ve all heard a million times.” “The labor pool has shrunk a lot in Northwest Ohio,” and the population is aging, Gottschalk said during a meeting of the economic development commission on Wednesday. “We just need more bodies,” he said. Sue Clark, Bowling Green’s economic development director, hears the same concerns. Jobs Ohio recently released statistics showing 9,200 jobs available within a 20-mile radius of Bowling Green. “Where will the people come from to fill these jobs,” she said. Clark has listened to the worries of small “mom and pop” shops and of large manufacturers. “We all know this is a very serious issue.” The headlines look great – about new companies moving into or expanding in the region. But the reality is that some of those new jobs siphon people away from existing businesses – which may lead to their closings or moving from the region. “If they simply steal employees from our existing companies,” without those workers being replaced by others, “none of us want that,” Clark said. So on Wednesday, Bowling Green officials shared their plan with county officials, in hopes that the entities could team up to attract workers to the region. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards introduced the Welcome BG Task Force concept of attracting, supporting and maintaining a workforce – both skilled and unskilled. “We want to reach out and assist legal immigrants,” Edwards said. “America desperately needs more workers,” he said. Other cities have had success with such “welcoming” programs, like Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland and Dayton, the mayor said. “The immigrant community has been such a huge driver for new small businesses and filling manufacturing spots” in those cities, said Margaret Montague, head of the Welcome BG Task Force. The U.S. Census showed Wood County’s population grew 3.65 percent from 2000 to 2010.  The number of youth and working age residents…

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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 of experience in the field as an entrepreneur, investor, academic and policymaker, he most recently became co-founder and CEO of SpinGlass, a multi-tiered investment platform for fueling the development and adoption of emerging robotics and AI technology. SpinGlass creates, acquires and applies modern digital technologies, including robotics and AI, to…


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 von Mises: “Value is not intrinsic, it is not in things. It is within us; it is the way in which man reacts to the conditions of his environment.” Capitalism is a system, Morris said, that is based on mutually beneficial agreements made freely that protect and respect individual rights….


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 new warehouse in Woodbridge, the city has become the target of businesses looking to locate logistics sites, plus some small manufacturers for non-automotive suppliers. “It’s all across the board,” Clark said. “The more diversified we can become, the better.” With businesses like Amazon and Walmart going into home delivery services,…


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 the issue. When the question was repeated on Monday, Latta’s aide Tim Bosserman said he had not discussed it with the congressman. “But nothing has happened. We are running out of time. We have thousands of dreamers waiting for a solution,” Maya said. Maya fears that Congress will do nothing….


At BGSU, Clarence Page reflects on Middletown & “Hillbilly Elegy”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Clarence Page is a story teller. That’s what all good journalists are, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner said. On Thursday at Bowling Green State University, though, he reflected on someone else’s story, J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” Vance’s book has been selected as the university’s Common Read. Page was invited to BGSU to discuss Vance’s book. Meant to bring everyone together to read the same book and spark discussion, this year’s selection has done the trick. Social media is full of commentary on the book, and even its appropriateness as the Common Read. “Hillbilly Elegy” arrived at the same time as Donald Trump was elected to office, and many reviewers touted it as the book to read if you wanted to understand Trump voters. Vance takes a hard look at his people, who feel displaced in America and are plagued by dysfunctional families and unemployment. This demographic is the most pessimistic of any in the country.  Poor whites are more pessimistic than poor blacks. “Maybe because we’re used to it.” Page, who like Vance comes from Middletown, Ohio, said the book gave him a look at what was happening on the white side of town. Page noted he started out as “colored,” and has been a Negro, black, African-American, before now being a person of color. His family, he said, was “po’” because, according to his father, they were too poor to afford the “or.” But, he added, “ we were rich in spirit.” Page, 70, said he’s told Vance that save for the difference in age and race, it could be his story. But there were differences. Unlike Vance who chronicles a difficult family life, Page said his family was boring, a quality he’s come to appreciate as he’s gotten older. Like Vance’s grandfather, Page’s family moved north from the south to work in northern industry. Page’s people were part of the Great Migration that brought blacks north by rail seeking an escape from the segregated south and seeking greater opportunities. And Page remembers the lure of the railroad, looking down the tracks imagining an escape from Middletown. He succeeded in large part because of what he learned there.  He wanted to be an astronaut but his vision, “being four-eyed” ended that dream. But he was also captivated by seeing the reporters during a whistle…