ISU group focuses on reviving urban Terre Haute
Published: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010 23:04
In typical college towns across the country, a financial hub of local businesses, retail chains, restaurants and bars builds a symbiotic relationship with the nearby university, creating an ideal landscape of consumerism and entertainment that is beneficiary to both the community and the university.
A variety of choice businesses that cater to students' needs and wants helps college towns thrive as well as enhance the overall experience of the college life.
Indiana towns such as Bloomington, West Lafayette and Muncie seem to have a solid foundation to support the consumer relationship of the university and businesses in the surrounding area.
So, Terre Haute … What gives?
For several years, Terre Haute downtown has witnessed many businesses come and go, both local establishments and national chains without ever establishing any kind of rapport with Indiana State's student population. Hopefully that can begin to be an idea of the past.
Starting this semester, in coordination with the Terre Haute City Chamber of Commerce, a committee from ISU is initiating the "Energize Downtown Terre Haute" project.
The committee, headed by co-chairs Chris Pfaff, Director of Center for Business Support and Economical Innovation for ISU and Maggie Slaven, who works for the ISU Foundation, are working on an initiative to help attract new businesses that accommodate the students and community's needs in the downtown district near campus.
"The initial step in achieving our goal is collecting data for strategic planning and understanding what the student population wants to help build a vibrant community," Pfaff said. "The data will help plant the seed of thought to businesses that Terre Haute is the forefront location to consider."
Students will soon receive emails regarding a survey the committee has crafted in order to appropriate sufficient responses and concerns about the development. The survey takes very little time and focuses on ways to improve entertainment, specific retail, and desired restaurants students would like to have in Terre Haute, as well as includes space for students to add personal suggestions and or concerns.
Pfaff and company will remain committed for several years to come to in order to see this venture through and are relying on student input to christen this voyage towards a better downtown Terre Haute.
"Student participation is going to be a tremendous help," Pfaff said. "Not only does it help our overall data, but students' involvement can ultimately lead to selling them on this development." Pfaff is willing to listen to any student's input, and the more, the better. In fact, Pfaff said he had business professors select two marketing majors to help intern in order to keep a constant voice of the students close at hand.
Juniors Carrie Swanson and Colleen Hawkins, the selected students, will represent the students with the input and knowledge they have gained from their majors thus far, while sharpening their marketing acumen.
"I believe downtown Terre Haute has great potential," Swanson said. "With our dedicated team from ISU working with the Chamber of Commerce, we will make our vision a reality."
Hawkins echoed Swanson's sentiment explaining their enthusiasm.
"I am excited to be part of this team," Hawkins said. "I am very happy to be part of the steps along the way to prove Terre Haute's true potential."
Over the course of the next few years, the committee hopes to start to seeing a growth that will be influenced by the arrival of recent ventures, such as Barnes & Nobles, Smoke N Peace, The Terre Haute Children's Museum and the Hilton Garden Suites.