Welcoming BG

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…