Sunday, September 26, 2010

Small AND Big Business

While our focus for this blog is on small business, it's important to understand the balance between local establishments in Bowling Green and the presence of larger companies. I've lived in BG my entire life, so I've been a part of the community's development for more than twenty years.

Like just about anywhere else in America, one thing we've always had here has been fast food restaurants. There are now two McDonald's, three Burger King's, two Wendy's, and a Rally's. That's a lot of burgers, but it doesn't stop there. BG has an unbelievable amount of Subways. I think the count currently is around 7, including several locations in gas stations. One of the busiest chain restaurants in town is Taco Bell, which stands in a prime spot on the walking route between the BGSU campus and downtown BG, specifically the bars.

Even with the presence of so many large companies, the city maintains a strong sense of small business as well. There are many small businesses and restaurants in downtown Bowling Green, which creates an interesting balance with the many chain restaurants. It's not possible to completely understand how chains affect the viability of small businesses in a small city, but there have been plenty of places that have gone out of business.

One of my favorite restaurants when I was a kid was a baseball-themed hamburger place called Casey's. It was very simple, with a menu that offered sandwiches that ranged from a single up to a home run, as well as fries and milkshakes. No go-wraps, fruit smoothies or gimmicks. I don't know if an increase in chain restaurants chased Casey's out of BG, but a rise in the number of locations for the big guys couldn't have helped.

T.M.I. (The Music Industry)

I pose a quick question to my BG colleagues, have you ever been to Finders on Main St.?

For most of you, the answer is no.  It happens to be the local record store.

Periodically, I go there to buy my albums to satisfy my thirst for funk whenever I need a boost of inspiration. Call me old fashioned but I still buy Compact Discs.  You know, CD's?  For some odd reason when I buy things, I like to physically own it.  MP3 technology is convenient in the sense that it doesn't get scratched up, but its intangibility is kind of weird if you ask me.

With the technological boom in recent years we've seen the traditional model of the music industry change drastically.  The monopoly over creative capital once held by record labels has been decentralized due to the phenomenon of file-sharing.  The nature and functionality of the traditional music industry model is in stark contrast to the information age that we live in.  In this industry where falsetto vocals and guitar licks are goods and concerts are services, technology serves as a gift and a curse for recording artists of the 21st century. 

Essentially music artists are small business owners capitalizing off of their aesthetic talentsSean Carter said it best, "I'm not a business man.  I'm a business, man!"  Each artist has been forced to adapt in a market that is complicated by spoiled fans who would rather pirate than purchase.

Most recording artists have found themselves at cross roads very similar to journalists, trying to find a way to be compensated for their work in this technologically sophisticated world.  Even prior to this technological renaissance period, many artists still struggled to break even due to equivocal contracts drafted by esquires, that upon signing will have them (the artists) in debt to the record label.

I guess this is my public service announcement:  Support the artists and Local Businesses (more so than Best Buy and Wal-Mart).  I do.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bowling Green: Small City, Strong Spirit

Bowling Green is a small city in Ohio whose residents pride themselves on a strong sense of community. With a population around 30,000, people of the municipality strive to deliver the services of a mid-sized city with the neighborly atmosphere of a small town.

One of the things that makes Bowling Green an interesting and pleasant place to live is the presence of many small businesses that make up much of the local infrastructure. Downtown BG is lined with small shops, restaurants, historical buildings and businesses, as well as bars - one of the qualities that appeal to the students of Bowling Green State University, which also has a significant presence in the city.

This blog is intended to showcase the businesses and service providers around the city. We'll visit the restaurants, show you the stores and the sights, and write about what makes Bowling Green such a special place. Hopefully this will be not only a source of information for people who live in or plan to visit BG, but also a model to inspire our sense of community in others.

The following is an excerpt from Mayor John Quinn's welcome letter, available on the City of Bowling Green's website:

"Bowling Green is a city of energetic and forward-looking people from all walks of life who are genuinely concerned about their community and how it grows and prospers. Our aim is to make all citizens, students and visitors alike feel that they are part of and welcome in this community. With all of these attributes, I think that Bowling Green is a friendly and pleasant place to live, work, play, and study."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Small Business Jobs Act, For Dummies

It wasn't too long ago, two years to be exact, when the national audience was captivated by the character that was Joe Wurzelberger, commonly known as "Joe the Plumber."  Wurzelberger, a Holland, Ohio native, was brought to public attention by some Alaskan woman, to exemplify that then Senator Barack Obama's election as president would mean subsequent tax hikes for small business nationwide. 

At the time, Joe the Plumber became a cultural punch line, but his narrative didn't carry enough weight to get the veteran and the hockey mom in the White House.  In the aftermath of their defeat came the Obama administration.  As promised, Mr. Hussein spearheaded and advocated initiatives for small business loans and tax cuts for businesses that make less than $250,000 a year (98% of small businesses).  Last week these initiatives became policies after Congress passed the Small Business Jobs Act in a 237 to 187 vote.

What does this mean?

Well, I don't have a Tax Breaks For Dummies book, but from my understanding small businesses will be able to take measures to improve their business in the form of expansions, etc. and ultimately subtract those expenses from their gross income at the end of the fiscal year.  Barack and his cohorts hope predict these incentives will trickle down from the private sector to the middle class, but that sounds eerily similar to the practical ideology of one of our most infamous commanders-in-chiefs.  Hopefully the results won't be analogous.

Hopefully a slew, if not all of the small businesses in Bowling Green and abroad can take advantage of the aid provided by our national government in some fashion.  Only time will tell if this legislation proves beneficial, or if we should have taken Joseph the Pipe Engineer more seriously.