University keeps money in town through local businesses

City Editor and City Editor

When it comes to local services, there aren’t many businesses in town the University hasn’t purchased from.

“We do business with every local business there is,” said Maureen Ireland, Business Operations purchasing specialist at the University. “If you walk up and down Main Street, we’ve done business with every single store.”

The University looks to the city for a wide variety of services and deals including home improvement, paint, printers, automotive, staffing, retail and transportation, Ireland said in an email.

Whenever business deals or interviews are conducted, the University will set up a meal at one of the local restaurants such a Call of the Canyon or Easy Street and many student groups use Ben Franklin Crafts for projects, she said.

“It’s important for the University to support the community because the community supports the University through taxes, donations and participation at sporting events,” said Barbara Ruland, director of Downtown Bowling Green. “There’s a real synergy in that support.”

Since it opened 25 years ago, the University has been doing business with Ace Hardware on South Main Street, said Carol Tolles, store manager for Ace Hardware.

“A lot of it is cleaning supplies,” Tolles said. “Chartwells does a lot with light bulbs and maintenance gets plumbing supplies.”

Aside from upkeep, Dining Services also sells Grounds for Thought Coffee in the Falcon’s Nest and Sundial, said Kelly Wicks, co-owner of the coffee shop on South Main Street.

Wicks said he’s done business with the University since the early 1990s when he sought to secure clients for his shop when it first started roasting its own coffee.

On food and supplies alone, Dining Services has spent nearly $1.04 million on local and regional businesses, said Mike Paulus, director of Dining Services.

Other local businesses Dining Services purchases from include the BG Liquor Outlet, which supplies the Black Swamp Pub and Bistro with alcohol, Paulus said.

“It’s just good business,” he said. “We’re all in the same community.”

For Ruland, Tolles and Wicks, buying local doesn’t just benefit the business, but the community as well.

“If you’re using local people, the money stays local opposed to large brands,” Tolles said.

While the city can be a good resource to meet the instrumental needs of running the University, it can also be supplemented for a classroom like bowling classes being hosted at Al-Mar Lanes on Main Street.

Some students also see the mutual benefit between the campus and community.

“It has a positive impact because its getting the names of businesses out to students,” said junior Alyse Rogerson. “It says that the University wants to help out the community.”