Students Supporting the Local Economy
In the last few years, several new restaurants and venues have been popping up in Rogers Park and Edgewater, adding to the eclectic and diverse business mix of these two communities. With the proximity of these new restaurants to the Loyola Campus, it would seem like a no-brainer for students to flock to many of these local establishments. While some students do become patrons, many of these local restaurants are not frequented by students at the rate business owners hope for.
For the past four months, Community Relations has been working on the Student, Faculty and Staff Business Engagement Project, a strategic plan to better engage these groups with local restaurants and venues to foster economic growth and sustainability in the Edgewater and Rogers Park communities. Through a series of focus groups last fall and an online survey launching this spring, Loyola will determine shopping behaviors and preferences of the Loyola staff, faculty and student communities. This information will help business owners better target and attract these populations through intentional initiatives and outreach.
The student-centered focus groups provide an opportunity for students to share their interests, habits, and suggestions directly with small businesses owners. Mary Miro, Loyola’s Community Relations Coordinator, conducted two of the four focus groups, and has been collaborating with restaurants Act One-Mayne Stage, J.B. Alberto’s, and Heartland Café.
Though the focus groups are still underway, here are some highlights of what students have shared:
- Students expressed interest in a mobile app that will also allow them to locate student friendly prices to local venues and restaurants.
- Students are seeking a centralized online forum, such as a blog, where they can find out about student-focused promotions and discounts, and also provide reviews of their experiences at these businesses
- Students also stated that Loyola memorabilia, such as flags, posters and banners, etc, create a welcoming environment for students, and would incentivize students to frequent restaurants that displayed these items.
With the data gathered from these focus groups and the online survey, Community Relations will develop and implement interactive communication tools that will cater to the interests of students, while providing local businesses a much improved avenue for which to promote their establishment.
Partnerships with the Rogers Park Business Alliance and Edgewater Chamber of Commerce will lead to a Student Dinner Crawl, to introduce students to several local restaurants and encourage future patronage. Community Relations will continue to engage student organizations and other University departments to foster continued student business engagement via student events and outings in Rogers Park and Edgewater.
For more information about this initiative or to get involved, please contact Mary Miro, coordinator, Department of Community Relations at 773-508-7436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.