Downtown Forward

City of Bowling Green "Downtown Forward" initiative's sign

Megan Finke | Editor-in-Chief

Downtown Forward was announced as a collaborative effort looking to enhance placemaking in rural areas around Bowling Green. 

The City of Bowling Green gathered with Bowling Green State University’s Division of Research and Economic Engagement and the Center for Regional Development on Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. to announce the program and kick-it-off, during a press conference. 

Bowling Green was selected to participate in the Reimagining Rural Regions (R3) program with the Center for Regional Development. The program launched in 2021, and is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the USDA Rural Development Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge

According to a press release from the city, “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.”

The program allows for public engagement to be conducted by communities in order to develop placemaking plans.

According to the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge’s website, “placemaking is a collaborative engagement process that helps leaders from rural communities create quality places where people will want to live, work, play and bring together partners from public, private, Tribal, philanthropic communities technology sections…”

BGSU graduate and undergraduate students will work with communities to help plan and implement projects which will build and enhance liveable spaces. 

The program is looking for students who want to make an impact in rural communities throughout northwest Ohio. 

PaCE (Placemaking and Community Engagement) Fellows are a group of selected students that will obtain the skills and knowledge necessary to accomplish the R3 goals. During the press conference, it was mentioned that two to three PaCE fellows will be selected.

After completing training throughout the Spring semester of 2023, students will be in the communities of Mansfield, Bowling Green and Paulding to lead projects and bring about more holistic and inclusive spaces. 

“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 Ohio,” BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers said in the city’s press release. “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.”

For more information on the PaCE Fellowship or how to apply, visit

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