Seneca-Sandusky County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Open for Feedback

If you are a Sandusky or Seneca County resident, we would appreciate your feedback on the Sandusky-Seneca County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The CEDS is a comprehensive strategy developed by the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University and members of Sandusky and Seneca Counties to help foster economic growth and resiliency. The CEDS is now open for a public comment period for residents of those counties, which ends on February 23, 2024. Follow the link below to access the public comment form.

Public Comment Form


R3 Application Now Open

The application to become an R3 community in 2024 is now open. Placemaking has become an important part of attracting and retaining workers, and this free program of CRD assists communities in this important planning. Some new changes have been implemented in the coming year's Program based on feedback we received in the past. We are excited to bring some fresh ideas in the coming year to our rural communities. Visit our Reimagining Rural Regions page to see eligibility requirements and how to apply.

R3 Page


CRD's Vanessa Oz Attends the 2023 AIGA Design Conference in New York City

Our graphic designer Vanessa Oz attended the AIGA Design Conference this past week to learn more about the evolving design landscape to bring new ideas to our visual communication. Designers from across the globe came to share their experiences, share new perspectives, and understand new practices within the design world. We are excited to be able to use her new experiences within our projects to elevate our visual communication.


CRD Attends the Chicago Region EDA University Showcase

CRD staff enjoyed attending the EDA University Showcase in Chicago a few weeks ago. University centers across the Midwest are doing great work in community development, technology, and innovation, and amazing projects were conducted to support the  communities around the Midwest. CRD had the opportunity to talk about the workforce development and economic impact work we've been engaged in over the past year. 

View the recap from University of Illinois


BGSU is Awarded a STEM Talent Challenge Grant

The university will leverage its $332,828 grant to create an ecosystem to transform smart manufacturing curriculum and training by engaging industry professionals in work-related learning modules and hands-on activities. The STEM Talent Challenge is a national competition overseen by EDA that provides funding for programs that complement their region’s innovation economy, create pathways to good-paying STEM careers, and build talent pipelines for businesses to fill in-demand jobs in emerging and transformative sectors.

Learn more about the grant


CRD's Maddi Menich Co-authors an ICMA Article on Cultivating University & Community Partnerships

Maddi Menich, CRD's Community Placemaking Program Manager, has teamed up with some of our collegues from UEDA to co-author an article featured in ICMA's Public Management Magazine that discusses the importance of the collaboration between local governments and their local universities. 

In it, Maddi talks about our own Reimagining Rural Regions (R3) Program as a great example of this type of work and how the collaboration fosters a learning environment for students while also improving the community for its residents. 

Read the full article


CRD Works With Library to Conduct Listening Sessions

The Wood County District Public Library hosted listening sessions on Wednesday, April 5th, to understand the local needs related to technology and internet access. The Bowling Green State University Center for Regional Development and Toledo Lucas County Library conducted the program, which was awarded a grant by BroadbandOhio to serve as a "Regional Digital Inclusion Alliance" for Northwest Ohio. The collected data will help influence the state's future investments in broadband/internet connectivity and technology accessibility. Anyone can attend without an RSVP to voice their concerns about telehealth, healthcare billing, and record access.

Sentinel Tribune News Story

Learn More About Upcoming Sessions


CRD Hires Two New Staff Members

The Center for Regional Development (CRD) at Bowling Green State University is excited to announce the hiring of two new staff members.

Melissa Hopfer is CRD's newest Project Coordinator. Melissa served as the Sustainability Project Manager for Lucas County for the past 7 years and is a graduate of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program and B.A. of Environmental Policy & Analysis program at BGSU. Melissa will be working on CRD's Reimagining Rural Regions (R³) Program and supporting planning projects across the region. 

Vanessa Oz is CRD's first full-time Graphic Designer. Vanessa recently served as a Graphic Design Specialist with CRD and was an undergraduate graphic designer with CRD. Vanessa is a recent graduate of BGSU with a BFA in Graphic Design. Vanessa will be responsible for managing CRD's website and producing deliverables for community partners including reports, infographics, and web-based products. 

CRD Staff

Melissa Hopfer headshot

Melissa Hopfer

Vanessa Oz headshot

Vanessa Oz

CRD Announces New Communities for Reimagining Rural Regions Programs

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.

R3 Program


CRD Partners with USDA to Expand Rural Placemaking Initiative

BGSU’s placemaking program, the Reimagining Rural Regions Initiative (R3), is expanding thanks to a new partnership with the USDA. BGSU was one of 13 organizations nationally that received an award though the USDA’s Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC). The goal of these partnerships is to enhance community assets to better position communities to retain and attract people and jobs. CRD staff launched R3 in the spring of 2021 with a group of three communities: Gibsonburg, Van Wert, and Marysville. The CRD team is looking forward to expanding the group in 2022.

USDA Press Release

Marysville Mural 

CRD Awarded 5-Year EDA University Center Grant

CRD was chosen to continue serving as a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center for the next five years, along with its partners at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service at Ohio University. The EDA University Center program is designed to make the extensive resources of universities available to the economic development community. The program provides an important connection with the EDA and the funding allows CRD to partner with communities, regions, and organizations to facilitate planning processes, assist with grant applications, and collect, analyze, and visualize data.

BG Independent News Story


Toledo Region CEDS Finalized

CRD received funding from the EDA to update a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for a group of three counties in northwest Ohio: Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa. A CEDS is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development that is the result of a regionally-owned planning process. Regions are required to have a CEDS to be eligible for many EDA assistance programs and must update them, at least, every five years. The CEDS Strategy Committee provided vital guidance and input throughout the process and is comprised of representatives from Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties, the City of Toledo, the Regional Growth Partnership, the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and the Greater Toledo Community Foundation. The Strategy Committee developed two formats for the CEDS: a PDF report that goes into detail about the CEDS and a web-based report that provides high-level information regarding the 5-year CEDS. We look forward to implementing the CEDS, which provides a strategic path to economic prosperity and resiliency for the three-county region that takes advantage of the area’s many assets. View the web-based CEDS report. View the full CEDS report. View the EDA Letter of Acceptance of the CEDS.

Toledo Region CEDS Cover 

Three Communities Selected to Participate in R3 Initiative

We are excited to announce the three community applicants we selected for the first round of our new placemaking program, Reimagining Rural Regions (R3) Initiative: Gibsonburg, Van Wert, and Marysville. As a public university for the public good, BGSU’s Division of Research and Economic Engagement and the Center for Regional Development (CRD) developed the R3 Initiative to provide expertise and capacity to assist communities to undertake a placemaking process to identify assets that could be reimagined in an effort to improve quality of life and to aid in the retention and attraction of talent. This work is partly funded by a $300,000 CARES Act grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the State of Ohio Rural Universities Program and seeks to help select communities in northwest Ohio reinvigorate and reimagine themselves into becoming vibrant and exciting places to live.

BGSU Story

Sunset Barn 

CRD Receives CARES Act Funding to Support Workforce Initiative

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded CRD a $555,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to develop a workforce strategy and recovery plan for a four-county region that includes Lucas, Wood, Ottawa and Fulton Counties. The plan is to develop a set of metrics first and then develop a plan, said Dr. Russell Mills, senior director of CRD. The planning process will also result in the development of a Northwest Ohio workforce dashboard and user guide, workforce assets GIS-based mapping tool and user guide, and workforce development events calendar.

BGSU Story

cares act counties bg 

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)

CRD provided technical assistance to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority on their successful $2.4 million application to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant to create a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) for businesses in northwest Ohio.  CRD provided data, analysis, and application guidance to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority in support of their application to EDA as part of their work under the EDA’s University Center Program. The RLF will help address the region’s weakness in access to capital for small and mid-sized businesses and will support the goals and objectives of the Toledo Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

Toledo Port Authority 

R3 Initiative

At the 2021 State of the Region Conference, the Center for Regional Development and BGSU unveiled the Reimagining Rural Regions (R3) Initiative. The R3 Initiative, initially funded by a grant to CRD from the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) CARES Act, is a community-led placemaking effort that is designed to leverage the expertise and capacity of BGSU faculty, students, and staff to enhance community assets to better position communities to retain and attract young workers, executives, and skilled workers.

Communities interested in more information or applying for the program are encouraged to visit the R3 web page. Applications must be submitted to by 5:00pm on April 9, 2021.

Rural DT Development 

U.S. 30 Corridor CEDS

CRD was awarded an Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) for the U.S. 30 Corridor, which includes Ashland, Crawford, Richland, and Wyandot Counties in north central Ohio. Each of the four counties partnered with CRD on the grant application and will be members of the CEDS Strategy Committee. CRD is excited to work with these communities on their CEDS and to use its economic development planning capacity to further their long-term economic and community development goals.


CRD Awarded CARES Act Funding to Support Recovery Efforts

CRD received a $300,000 CARES Act grant to support economic and workforce development recovery strategies across a 27-county region in Northwest Ohio. This funding was provided to Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Centers (UC), including the Rural University Consortium, which is jointly operated by CRD and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. The grant will support additional capacity for the UC, boosting its ability to help communities reimagine more resilient economies. “Our local communities are navigating never-before-seen challenges due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Russell W. Mills, senior director of CRD. “This funding is critical in allowing CRD to bring additional staff capacity and expertise on board to expand our reach and support northwest Ohio.”

BGSU Story


CRD is Growing

Increased federal funding and state support have allowed CRD to increase its capacity and expand its reach across the region. CRD promoted one staff member, filled a new budget and operations position, and is in the process of hiring an economic recovery program coordinator. Dr. Nichole Fifer was promoted to assistant director. She previously served as an economic development program coordinator at CRD. For the new assistant to the senior director position, CRD hired another BGSU staff member, Vijaya Dasigi. She will focus on CRD’s budget and operations. CRD will soon hire an economic recovery program coordinator to lead the center’s recovery efforts. The staff also includes more graduate research assistants than usual. All of this is to keep us with all of the new and exciting projects CRD took on this year. Learn more about the CRD staff.

Nichole and VijayaLeft: Dr. Nichole Fifer, Right: Vijaya Dasigi

Creating Stronger Pathways to Infant Vitality

CRD is proud to announce our partnership with the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio (HCNO) and ProMedica Health Systems to implement Stronger Pathways, a research study aimed at helping our partners address infant mortality in Northwest Ohio. This study will assess avenues for targeted enhancement to the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, a coordinated care system aimed at preventing infant mortality. Through a $270,000 Ohio Third Frontier (OTF) grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), BGSU researchers will work closely with our partners and program participants to evaluate the Pathways program and HUB operations, and to identify barriers to HUB access or pathways completion. Together we aim to strengthen the Pathways HUB model to ensure greater infant vitality in our community.

ODHE Press Release


Updated: 02/13/2024 02:30PM