Foundation works to attract businesses to Bowling Green

Anthony Phillips and Anthony Phillips

Even though there are only two employees in the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation, they both work hard to attract new businesses and keep them in the city.

Sue Clark, executive director for the foundation, said titles do not mean much when there are only two people in an entire organization.

She said she and Sue Clanton, the other employee, have their work cut out for them.

Clark said the foundation has a board of members, including the University, Wood County Hospital, Bowling Green City Schools and several other business with factories in Bowling Green. The board provides a forum for its members to communicate about jobs, internships and other business-related issues.

The foundation is a private-public not-for-profit organization, which means they work with, but are not owned by, the government. However, they do receive public funding and membership dues.

Clark said a benefit for members in the foundation is that it creates a platform for communication and networking.

‘The contractors see an advantage because they may get a leg up on a contract, the real estate is the same way,’ Clark said. ‘If they know a company is coming to town, they want to know how they can sell houses and sell property to them.’

Tim Smith, an assistant in economic development at the University, said the University sees a benefit because it helps keep the community strong economically.

Smith said with new businesses, the University has a chance to open up more internships with local factories.

Clark said the main goal of the foundation is to diversify how money comes into the city. She said the reason for this is because in the 1980s the state froze government funding for colleges.

Clark said after the freeze, the mayor realized the city had a flat budget tied to the University, so he gathered city leaders to discuss the issue. She said a decision was made to create a diverse economic base so the city’s economy would be less dependent on the University.

At that time, Clark said business at the meeting pledged $10,000 over three years toward the foundation and its goal of diversifying the city’s revenue.

Even though University students may not see them, Bowling Green has several companies dealing in plastic manufacturing, including Rexam, which makes lids, and Southeastern Container, which makes Coca-Cola bottles.

Clark said there are several reasons companies pick Bowling Green to build their manufacturing plants.

One is location. Bowling Green is near Cleveland, Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago and Canada. Bowling Green also sits next to I-75, which is a common route for semi-trucks.

Clark said Bowling Green’s flat land and factory parks are yet another draw.

‘All of our parks have all of the utilities in place,’ Clark said. ‘We do not have to extend the utilities. We have very marketable sites that are shovel-ready really.’

Downtown BG Director Barb Ruland said the foundations has a lot of responsibilities.

‘They keep the wheels turning, and in this economy, it is not an easy go,’ she said.