Capstone hopes to bridge gap between students, community

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by Ashley Smith, Editor-in-Chief

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Indianola town square lies merely blocks away from Simpson’s campus, but students don’t utilize it as much as they could, a management capstone found.

For their management capstone, seniors Danielle Dawson, Matt Pullen, Isaac Frazier and Ty Porterfield are trying to bridge the gap between the students and the community.

“What we’ve seen so far is there’s not a lot of awareness of what’s actually on the square, and also there’s not a lot of interest from the business owners to promote to the Simpson students because of the fact that we haven’t been going. So it’s not necessarily worth their resources,” Dawson said.

Marty Davis, owner of Sweet 103 Bakery and Sweet Shop, said she doesn’t see many Simpson students on the square.

“When they’re down wandering the square, we see a few. Not a lot,” she said.

The group has spoken to businesses on the square, and they all have had an interest in Simpson students.

“They genuinely care about what we think and what we’re feeling. It’s just a matter of getting the students to get there,” Dawson said.

Senior Matt Pullen said there are many ways the group is looking to connect the students to the square.

“I think the biggest thing we’ve heard is the employment opportunities,” Pullen said.

He said many of the business on the square are owned and operated by the same person.

“It would be really beneficial if they could get a student who would work 10 hours a week and would come in and really learn about the businesses and help them out in any way possible,” he said.

Dawson said they could also promote the student-discount programs.

“We have all these great deals in town and students don’t actually know about them,” she said.

Davis said she would be willing to offer discounts to get students on the square.

“We could do special times for certain things, whether it’s study time or late afternoon or something that coincides with their schedule and our schedule so we can cater to the group,” she said.

Dawson said the next step is to find out what the students want to see on the square through small group discussions and surveys.

“I know one of the questions on our survey is geared toward asking the students what they would like to see because we think if students actually have their voices heard and we have something that actually appeals to them that’ll help get that traffic there,” she said.

Pullen said it’s important to get the students on the square early on so they can build habits.

“We don’t want this to just be a one-time deal and it falls off,” Pullen said. “We really want to have sustainable growth throughout the four years.”