MACON — A group of Mercer University business students is working to bring more interaction between the Macon community and Mercer students through a series of events for students and community members called “Paint the Town Orange.” The events, which are part of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce’s new “Macon. Discover it.” initiative, will take place from April 14-18, include discounts for Mercer students and events that are free and open to public, including an outdoor concert on April 18.
The student are part of Associate Professor Tammy Crutchfield’s Marketing Management class and they have taken on the challenge – issued by the Chamber – to get students and the community more involved. In addition to their Paint the Town Orange events, the 14 students have developed a Web site, which they will launch April 10, www.maconcollegetown.com. The students will also distribute Mercer Bears paw prints to participating businesses, place yard signs around Mercer’s campus and downtown Macon and distribute print materials to students promoting the event.
“The project emerged because we saw a need,” said Stephen Dominy, a junior. “Students want to engage in their community, feel embraced by their town and establish a true relationship with their city — Macon. We hope Paint the Town Orange will ignite community-wide school spirit, showcase. Macon's many offerings for college students and serve as a means of long-term connectivity.”
In preparation for the events, the class has conducted research to determine the factors that Mercer students consider important for a true “college town” experience. After compiling the responses, the students came up with the “Paint the Town Orange” promotion in an effort to engage students in the downtown area, create an environment of school and community spirit, and turn students into loyal, long-term advocates and fans of the city of Macon.
The students, who coined themselves “Summit Market Consulting,” conducted extensive research, including focus groups with 50 current Mercer students. The group also conducted 350 additional student surveys to collect data about students’ concept of the “ideal college town” compared to students’ perceptions of Macon. Students indicated that offerings such as bars and clubs, off-campus hang outs, housing, a bustling atmosphere and a community with school spirit are crucial factors for successful college towns. The class found that each of these criteria has a direct effect on students’ city pride, post-graduation plans and overall satisfaction with Macon.
In response to the research results, Summit Market Consulting determined three key issues in the relationship between Mercer and Macon:
- How do we connect students to Macon’s “fun places” and encourage involvement?
- How do we build school spirit within the community?
- How do we showcase Macon as an attractive location for life after graduation?
The class developed a series of growth strategies aimed at establishing connectivity between Macon and Mercer students. The first strategy is to connect Mercer students to existing community-sponsored events and encourage students to visit local establishments. The second strategy is to build a community environment of school spirit. Mercer students want their city to be their biggest fans, and local businesses can foster such a relationship by displaying Mercer paraphernalia and welcoming students into their establishments. The final strategy seeks to expose Mercer students to the reality of post-graduation life in Macon by promoting local housing options and involving students in community functions, rather than purely on-campus activities.
Paint the Town Orange Events Schedule
April 14 – 18: Take a Bite Out of Downtown
- Participating Downtown Macon restaurants will offer Mercer discounts and a Mercer-themed menu item throughout the week during lunch and/or dinner.
- Students will receive a raffle ticket at each restaurant they visit.
- The NewTown Macon trolley will provide free transportation to Mercer students from campus to downtown between 1 and 4 p.m.
April 17: Bear Crawl
- Participating Downtown Macon establishments will offer Mercer food and drink discounts and provide a Mercer-themed item between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 3 a.m.
- Students will receive a raffle ticket at each establishment they visit.
- Commemorative coasters featuring the event logo and the names of each of the participating establishments will be given away at each establishment.
- The NewTown Macon trolley will run to provide students with transportation from campus to downtown and back.
April 18: Mercer Rocks Downtown
- Mercer students will be invited to tour the downtown loft apartments from 7 – 8 p.m.
- Bands comprised of Mercer students will perform at the Cherry Street Plaza from 8 – 9:30 p.m. An art exhibit of student art will be set-up around the plaza.
- Raffle tickets collected from each of the participating businesses will be combined and drawings will be held for prizes, such as gift certificates to locally owned restaurants and tickets to a show at The Grand Opera House.
- Free “Paint the Town Orange” t-shirts will be given to 500 attendees
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; three regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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