Downtown Aiken trying to attract college students

Downtown Aiken trying to attract college students

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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016 News 12 First at Five

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) — It’s the first thing people see when they come into Aiken’s downtown: Welcome USC Aiken Students.

“The potential for them and for us to tap into that resource is tremendous,” Betsy Simons said, owner of Betsy’s on the Corner.

The downtown development association wants downtown Aiken to become a college town, so businesses like Betsy’s are jumping on board. She hopes the new ice cream flavor “Pacer’s Tracks” and discount on the flavor for students will

“I don’t know if the students are fully aware of what is downtown,” Simons said.

But there are new efforts to drive students downtown. The DDA is partnering with USCA on Oktoberfest and it could just be the start.

“Trivia nights, live music, things that students want to see and general community members do as well,” Aiken DDA Director Avery Spears-Mahoney said.

The school is pushing it as well, with a new student committee focusing on strengthening the partnership. Cassie Torres is one student fighting the stereotypes on campus.

“Aiken’s boring, there’s not a lot to do, you really have to go and look at what Aiken has,” Torres said.

The committee is tackling three issues: signage supporting the school, transportation and discounts. While some businesses offer discounts, the school is looking to partner with businesses so students can use their Carolina cards.

“We’re looking at ways to explore that, typically it’s easier to get those Carolina cards hooked up with local businesses, so I think that’s going to be our next step,” USCA Assistant Vice Chancellor Ahmed Samaha said.

The school already partners with Moe’s and Papa Johns, so students can use their cards there.

The school is about 3 miles away from downtown Aiken, so providing a way downtown is something they will experiment with.

“Trying one night a week, see what that transportation looks like, see it it’s used, we’re also trying to make it that night that some of our local businesses offer that discount.”

The university and the city are both looking into housing options as well for students, but no plans have been announced yet.

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Source: News