Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 11:11
Downtown Bowling Green business owners want BGSU students to realize there is more to the downtown than its bars.
|Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards speaking during BGSU/BG City Joint Visioning Update at Olscamp Hall on the campus of Bowling Green State University. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
During a meeting sponsored by BG Chamber of Commerce and BGSU on Tuesday, business owners voiced concerns that many students aren't aware of the offerings in the downtown area.
Ginny Stewart, owner of Bowling Green Hats and Apparel, said she recently encountered a college senior who discovered downtown during her last year at BGSU.
"She said, 'I wish I had spent more time downtown. I didn't know this was all here,'" Stewart said of the student.
Some shop owners asked if BGSU's shuttle bus could make a downtown stop, rather than just passing it by on its way to other locations.
"It would mean a great deal to the downtown merchants," Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said. "We see the buses passing through," but they don't stop downtown.
City officials would gladly work on finding an appropriate downtown bus stop, the mayor said. "We're very eager to work with you and identify a spot."
The only downtown stops now made by the BGSU shuttle are along a bar route in evenings. The shuttle also makes grocery and pharmacy stops elsewhere in the city.
Stewart pointed out that a daytime downtown shuttle would not only help student shoppers but also student interns who have jobs in that area.
The owner of Serenity Spa and Salon said a thriving downtown benefits BGSU as well. But right now, many students are unaware of the area.
"They don't even know what's downtown," she said.
Stewart also suggested that the shuttle work both ways, by transporting city residents from downtown to sporting or theater events at BGSU. However, BGSU Director of Public Safety Monica Moll said that shifting the shuttle to public service could mean different regulations.
"It's not as easy as charging money and letting everyone hop on board," Moll said.
Moll added that students would soon be surveyed about shuttle usage, and the university is open to more stops in the city.
Sandra Tebbe, of Project Hope riding center, suggested that information be made available to students about downtown services, such as where to get haircuts, where to shop for gifts, and where to go to dinner with parents.
"The students have no idea what is out here," she said.
Jill Carr, senior vice president for student affairs, said several programs already exist to familiarize students and parents with the community.
Faculty member Dr. Neocles Leontis said getting students' attention is getting increasingly difficult.
"That's a problem I've been confronting for 25 years," he said.
He suggested using technology rather than paper, and possibly creating Apps for downtown businesses.
"We may be digital immigrants, but they are digital natives," BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said of students.
In an effort to promote BG and BGSU, the two entities have teamed up so the BG Convention and Visitors Bureau will soon operate the visitors center near the Stroh Center. Students will be used to staff the center.
The shift at the visitors center comes soon after ODOT's decision to close its visitors centers at the Interstate 75 rest areas south of Bowling Green.
"I think the time is really, really good here," said Wendy Stram, head of the convention and visitors bureau.
Edwards and Mazey also talked about efforts to improve signage on I-75. Mazey said she would ideally like to see a sign that reads "Welcome to Bowling Green, Home of BGSU."