BGSU students to share economic development findings with area leaders


BOWLING GREEN, O.—Civic and University leaders will gather to hear findings and recommendations on an array of community needs at the Bowling Green State University  Economic Development Summit April 24.

Students in BGSU’s Master of Public Administration Program will present their work on four projects:
• A Bowling Green workforce needs assessment
• The Bowling Green Buy Local Campaign
• A Wood County Airport revenue study, and
• A coordinated transportation plan for Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa and Seneca counties (WSOS).

The summit begins at 6 p.m. in the Holiday Inn Express, 2150 E. Wooster St. in Bowling Green. It is free and open to the public.

Listening will be BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers, city council members, members of the Wood County Regional Airport Authority and the transportation division of WSOS as well as representatives from the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation.

The presenters are all students of Dr. Russell Mills, an assistant professor of political science. The projects were supported by BGSU’s Office of Service-Learning. The various agencies and the communities receive free services through the partnership, and the students get hands-on experience in public administration.  

In addition, two summer internships have been developed as a result of the project, Mills said.

“Each project had different deliverables,” he explained. “For the workforce assessment, the students researched what types of skills are needed in Bowling Green to fill the jobs that are available.

“For the transportation study, the object was to lay the foundations for a core public transportation system for Wood County, which has none.

“For the airport, the goal was to expand the revenue base by looking at such things as a tourism tie-in and enhanced land use.

“The Buy Local Campaign was probably the most visible,” he said. “The students sought to forge links between the community and local businesses.

Among the class are two BGSU employees who are also alumnae, Holly Cipriani, outreach coordinator and counselor in Student Financial Aid, and Maribeth Giese, an admissions counselor. Both were in the Buy Local group.

“(Mills) chose projects that were needed by the community, offered us the most learning and could be accomplished in the 16 weeks of the semester, with actionable results,” Giese said.

Along with studying what other communities have done to promote local buying, “we partnered with Sue Clanton and Sue Clark of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation and connected with Earlene Kilpatrick of the Chamber of Commerce to decide how to shape the campaign. ”

“It really makes sense for us to work with a community and what they’re building for,” said Cipriani.  “Getting the support of the business owners is vital to the campaign. We decided to use social media, and created a Facebook page and worked with the Copy Shop to create a logo. We also created a handbook so that an intern could pick up and continue the work. There’s lots of room for creativity and growth, since any campaign will need to change along with the community. And we’ll still be here to serve as a point of connection.”

Cipriani said she found that the class’s service-learning format deepened learning. “The readings tied in with what we were doing,” she said. “We kept a reflection journal in which we connected our project activities to the course material.”

“It was a really, really good class,” Mills said admiringly. “The 18 students worked countless hours networking with local agencies, conducting research and developing their plans.

“The master of public administration is the most applied degree in political science. It draws people with backgrounds in nonprofits, social work, even philosophy, in addition to political science. We hope by partnering with area agencies to create not only internships, but also jobs for our students.”

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(Posted April 17, 2013 )