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B.G. wins $40,000 of development advice

BOWLING GREEN - With its $6.25 million downtown revitalization project nearly complete, the city is ready for some good old-fashioned advice about how to make the investment pay off.

State officials plan to announce this week that Bowling Green has been designated a 2002 Ohio Main Street Community. “The community has, through a competitive process, been selected to receive three years of intense training and technical services,” said Kevin Kuchenbecker, executive director of Downtown Ohio, Inc. “Main Street BG has been working for a number of years in their revitalization effort, and, through the framework of the Main Street program, we will help them solidify and maintain the vitality of the downtown and address additional economic and preservation issues in the central business district.”

As many as three other Ohio communities will be named to the program Thursday, but officials declined to identify them.

Earlene Kilpatrick, Main Street BG manager, said the organization will get about $40,000 worth of technical assistance over the next three years. It will pay a $5,000 fee, “so we're looking at eight times our investment,” Ms. Kilpatrick said.

She applied for the designation last fall as the city was undertaking its Heritage 2000 project, which included installing new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping, repaving streets, and burying utility lines.

The project was paid for through a combination of grants, loans, city funds, and assessments to downtown property owners.

“I think a contributing factor was the city's investment in the downtown through Heritage 2000, the property owners' investments, and business owners' investments - all three of these just showed a strength and a concern and the will to strengthen the downtown, and I think that may have caught their attention,” Ms. Kilpatrick said.

Professionals ranging from architects to city planners and historic preservationists will be among those aiding Bowling Green in areas such as attracting and retaining downtown businesses and marketing.

“We would like to develop downtown Bowling Green as a one-day stop, a destination - come and shop and dine,” she said.

Lima is the only other area town named an Ohio Main Street Community since the designations were first made in 1998, said Rachel Norton, director of communications and development for Downtown Ohio, Inc.

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