By 1812Blockhouse, BGSU Press Release

Bowling Green State University’s Center for Regional Development is looking to do some makeovers.

Instead of improving appearances or renovating houses, the Center is focusing its efforts on creating new energy for untapped assets for local communities, turning them into engines for economic growth and enhanced quality of life. 

To that end, the Center has announced the second cohort of communities to participate in its Reimagining Rural Regions (R3) program. One of those chosen communities is Mansfield.

Launched in 2021, the R3 program is an economic and workforce development-centered placemaking initiative that helps communities identify, enhance and build community assets to aid in talent attraction and retention.

“We are so pleased to engage the City of Bowling Green, the City of Mansfield and the Village of Paulding – these communities create so much good in our region and in Ohio,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “As a public university for the public good, BGSU is committed to supporting the current and future growth and vitality of our rural communities that power our state. Our R3 initiative is another example of how together, we can make our region stronger and position Ohio for future success.”

After a competitive application process and site visits, the CRD at BGSU selected the following Ohio communities for the second cohort of the R3 program:

  • Village of Paulding: Located in Paulding County, the Village of Paulding will use R3 resources to leverage its historic county courthouse and picturesque village square into a hub for community activity through the development and attraction of new restaurants, retail shops and community hubs.
  • City of Bowling Green: Serving as Wood County’s county seat, the City of Bowling Green will leverage R3 resources to implement its Heritage 2025 initiative that focuses on robust public engagement, as well as to identify and implement improvements to the downtown corridor.
  • City of Mansfield: Located in Richland County, the City of Mansfield will use the capacity provided through the R3 Program to continue its Mansfield Rising initiative by reimagining a parking lot in the heart of downtown into a community asset and gathering place. This references the large parking lot at the corner of Main and Fourth, directly to the east of Richland Carrousel Park.

“The economic, cultural and technological divide between larger cities and communities and rural small towns has never been greater,” said Russell Mills, senior director for the BGSU Center for Regional Development. “Through this initiative, we are able to work closely with communities to identify placemaking opportunities that will impact workforce attraction and retention in our region and state.” 

The R3 program also provides capacity to communities to conduct public engagement to develop placemaking plans. Additionally, BGSU graduate and undergraduate students work with each community to help plan and implement projects aimed toward enhancing and building more livable spaces.

The CRD at BGSU continues to work with its first cohort of communities selected for the R3 program: The Village of Gibsonburg, the City of Van Wert and the City of Marysville.

The R3 Program is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the USDA Rural Development Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC).

Photo: 1812Blockhouse

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