Graduate students in MK 864, Marketing Strategies, are working with local merchants to offer more goods and services that are more student-friendly in order to make Emporia more appealing.
The project, originated by JoLanna Kord, director of institutional research, will focus on understanding and improving relations between ESU students and Emporia merchants so that there are more options for students around town.
“Once in a while you want some entertainment,” said Kevin Coulson, associate professor of marketing and director of the focus group lab. “Once in a while you want something other than dorm food or something you cooked yourself. Once in a while, you would like to be able to do a little shopping downtown. So if they (merchants and students) come together, you benefit as a student and the merchants benefit because they get money. We all benefit from the fact that everybody in the community has a more viable lifestyle. We get a more viable community.”
Coulson said that the marketing students have already spoken with the Emporia City Commission about their perception of how students and the town work together, as well as the Emporia Main Street merchants about how they view students as consumers.
Bill Noblitt, executive director of Marketing and Media Relations for ESU, is providing funding for the project and has contributed about $900 so far.
“I’m always interested in marketing and research,” Noblitt said. “The more information that we have, the better we can sell Emporia to our prospective students, and I also think that it can perhaps help us get different businesses in town and help the town, help our city, get more businesses in town that students are looking for.”
The next step in the project is a survey that was emailed to all students about what goods and services they expect from Emporia merchants. Coulson encourages all students to complete the survey, which takes about 10 minutes.
Another part of the project involves groups of MBA students traveling to Pittsburg, Manhattan, Lawrence and Warrensburg, Mo. to see what relations between merchants and Pittsburg State University, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas and the University of Central Missouri students are like. They will then present their findings to the City Commission and local merchants for a grade.
Adnan Alkhoudeer, graduate business administration student, said he hopes to gain “hands on experience” from this project.
Students completing the survey are also a key component in the research project, Alkhoudeer said.
“We want the students on campus to cooperate with us, to respond to the survey because we believe it will benefit us all,” Alkhoudeer said.