2023 State of the Region


Building a Resilient and Equitable Economy Through Investment in Small Business Capacity


March 6, 2023
8:00 a.m. – Noon


Hilton Garden Inn
Perrysburg, OH



7:45 – 8:15
Networking & Continental Breakfast

8:15 – 8:45
Welcome & Opening Remarks
Rodney K. Rogers, Ph.D., President of Bowling Green State University
Senator Bill Reineke, Ohio Senate

8:45 – 9:30
State of the Region Address
Nichole Fifer, Ph.D., Interim Director of the Center for Regional Development at BGSU

9:30 – 10:15
Keynote Address
Ilana Preuss, Founder & CEO of Recast City LLC and Author of Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small Scale Manufacturing

10:15 – 10:30

10:30 – 11:15
Panel Discussion: Building Small Business Capacity in Northwest Ohio
Moderated by Dr. Jennifer Percival, Dean of the Schmidthorst College of Business at BGSU

––  featuring  ––

Ebony Carter, Director, Minority Business Assistance Center, Toledo Region Chamber of Commerce
Rebecca Singer, President and CEO, Center for Innovative Food Technology
Sandy Spang, Deputy Director of Economic Development, City of Toledo
Kati Thompson, Executive Director, Bowling Green Economic Development

11:15 – Noon
Recast Your City Workshop: Tool 1
Ilana Preuss, Founder & CEO of Recast City LLC and Author of Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small Scale Manufacturing

Keynote Speaker
Ilana Preuss

Founder & CEO of Recast City LLC and Author of Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing


Ilana Preuss is the founder of Recast City LLC, and author of Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing. She is passionate about making great places and sees that small scale manufacturers are a missing piece in today's real estate and economic development efforts.

With over 20 years of experience in community development, Ms. Preuss' projects at Recast City span the country - from Washington, D.C. to Honolulu, HI. Through work with small-scale manufacturing business owners, real estate developers, foundations, city planning and economic development offices, improvement districts, and mayors, the projects go from idea to action to build great places with vibrant economies.

Additionally, Ilana leads a national program through a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to improve on the revolving loan funding program and better achieve equitable outcomes with small business lending.

Previously, Ilana was Vice President and Chief of Staff at Smart Growth America and worked in the US EPA Smart Growth Division, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors for the national non-profit Incremental Development Alliance.

Panel Moderator
Jennifer Percival, Ph.D.

Dean of Schmidthorst College of Business and Professor at Bowling Green State University


Jennifer Percival is the Dean of the Schmidthorst College of Business and Professor at Bowling Green State University.  Previously, she was the Associate Dean of the Manning School of Business at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and as Associate Dean for the Faculty of Business and Information Technology at OntarioTech in Oshawa, Canada.  She received her BMath (Operations Research) and PhD (Management Sciences) from the University of Waterloo. Her research began with evaluating the impact of organizational strategy and manufacturing technology implementation and has recently focused on the effective use and integration of technology to support teaching practices in the healthcare sector, as well as higher education. 

She is also actively involved in research surrounding the use of process modeling techniques to support innovation, change management, and technology integration in services, as well as integrating business into graduate engineering education to support retention and recruitment of women and underrepresented minorities.  She has received over $1.5 million in grants to support her research engaging with faculty colleagues and students across all disciplines on campus, at other universities and partner community colleges, and with multiple industry collaborators.  She has received funding and led the development of interdisciplinary programs to support student access and the development of industry ready graduates.  Through these projects, she has studied the impact and design of pathway programs between community colleges and universities to support improved retention, graduation rates, and diversity.   She current serves on the Board of Directors for the Society for Health Systems.

Ebony Carter

Director, Minority Business Assistance Center, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce


Ebony Carter is currently the Interim Director of the Minority Business Assistance Center. She has worked with small businesses and start-up companies for the past 6 years assisting with funding opportunities, strategic financial planning, and company structural planning. Her previous position as a Financial Analyst at the University of Toledo sparked her mission to become a trusted resource who helps inform and equip small businesses with the necessary tools and skills to reach their goals. She believes it’s important to be intentional on purpose in order to create change.

Ebony attended the University of Toledo where she earned her BA in Finance and joined the illustrious Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She is a proud aunt of 5 and sister to 8 siblings. Her larger family fuels her passion and desire to help.

Ebony is a proud Toledo resident and is excited to contribute to the economic growth of the community while bridging the gap to equitable opportunities for underrepresented groups.

“It Always Seems Impossible…Until its Done” – Nelson Mandela

Rebecca Singer

President and CEO, Center for Innovative Food Technology


Rebecca A. Singer is president and CEO, CIFT. She also directs the northwest region’s Ohio Manufacturing Partnership (MEP) and a recognized leader in providing technical innovations and solutions to local manufacturers with special expertise in the food processing industry statewide. She has lead CIFT to become recognized as the Resource Center for the eastern half of the country through the National Institute of Standards and Technology Network and serves on the national MEP Foundation Board as well as the Agricultural Technology and Innovation Foundation developed by the USDA.

Prior to joining CIFT in 2001, she worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture as the OHIO PROUD coordinator and direct marketing specialist. In 2006, she traveled to Israel at the invitation of the Negev Foundation, touring agricultural and food technology facilities. She was named 2019 Ohio MEP Innovator of the Year, selected as “100 Faces of Women in Agriculture” in Ohio in 2014, and recipient of the 2007 Young Professional Achievement Award given by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Alumni Society. It was at Ohio State where she earned her bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and applied economics. Singer joined the organization in 2001, and became the third president and CEO in the history of CIFT.  

Sandy Spang

Deputy Director, Economic Development, City of Toledo


Sandy Spang draws on her experiences as an entrepreneur, former Toledo City Council Member and Ohio Certified Economic Developer to increase the vibrancy and diversity of Toledo's economy. Sandy supports entrepreneurs and small businesses as they navigate permits and licenses, and connects them to supportive resources in our community.

Kati Thompson

Executive Director for Bowling Green Economic Development


Kati Thompson is a creative problem-solver who works with communities and organizations to achieve collaborative change and growth. As Executive Director, she leads BGED and is responsible for industry attraction, retention and expansion. Kati takes a wholistic approach in development to ensure an increased quality of life for all residents. With her passion for relationship-building along with strategic planning and partnerships, Bowling Green is poised for continued success.  

With entrepreneurial and community development roles in her background, Kati brings a broad range of experience to BGED. She continues to own and operate Eden Fashion Boutique, a contemporary women’s clothing store in Downtown Bowling Green which opened in 2016. She and her husband also own and operate several other businesses including Main Street ACE Hardware, Thompson & Thompson Construction and TDK Property Group. Kati holds a BA in Marketing and a Masters of Organization Development from Bowling Green State University. In her free time, Kati enjoys spending time with her husband and five children, traveling anywhere warm, and remodeling their home. 

Updated: 02/13/2024 08:51AM