Mary Hinkelman in driver’s seat at Downtown BG

Mark Hinkelman


BG Independent News

Mary Hinkelman arrived in her new job as executive director of Downtown BG at the right time.

Starting in early spring, she was ready to dig in to help with the planting that’s part of downtown beautification efforts.

Keeping downtown BG looking bright and welcoming is the prime mission of the organization. The Special Improvement District is funded by assessments paid by downtown landowners. The goal is to encourage visitors and shoppers to discover and return to the area.

Hinkelman feels there’s plenty of reason for them to do just that. “You can really shop local,” she said. “I love BG. There’s always something happening here in downtown. … There’s clothing, jewelry, restaurants – good restaurants – and Ben Franklin is a staple.”

Shop owners “know you when you walk in,” she said.

“The center of the town gives you the personality,” Hinkelman said. It makes a city more than “just a name.”

“This little town makes a big impression on people and a lot of that has to do with the downtown,” Hinkelman said.

And, she said, the property owners are keeping their buildings up. All the more reason “to show our appreciation and frequent them.”

She gave credit to her predecessor Barbara Ruland.  “She did a wonderful job.”

Hinkelman, who moved to Bowling Green in 1999, was already familiar with Downtown BG, especially through her involvement in the Classics on Main car show.

Hinkelman is both an exhibitor – she has a 1979 Pinto Cruising Wagon – and as a member of the organizing committee.

The show is one of the downtown’s signature events, along with the weekly farmers market. Hinkelman said this year those two will be run and promoted by the Sentinel-Tribune “in the interim.”

“Then we’ll evaluate it and see how we want to go forward.”

Hinkelman came to the Downtown BG position from Alpha Management, which manages five McDonald’s restaurants.

“This is an opportunity to move myself forward,” she said. “This seemed to have a lot of opportunities for me to do something for the downtown.”

In the interviewing process, she said, the board indicated they wanted someone who could do fundraising for the downtown plantings and holiday lighting.

Hinkelman has experience on that front. She’s been involved in raising money for the Ronald McDonald House and as president of the Tuesday Night Crawlers Car Club.

Fundraising “is one of my fortés,” she said.

She said she also enjoys working in the Four Corners Center that also houses other community organizations, the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation.

The location of all those entities in one building makes sense, she said. “Whether you realize it or not, there’s so many things that overlap.”