Students from the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith will report this week in a class project that focused on enhancing downtown Van Buren.
Presentations will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the King Opera House, 427 Main St. Both will end by 10:45 a.m. and are open to the public.
Since the beginning of September, students of the UAFS College of Business have been studying and researching various aspects of downtown Van Buren to come up with ideas and suggestions for improvements. Students are part of the Business College’s Marketing Research class taught by Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. Elise Riker.
“For this semester’s class, student chose downtown Van Buren as the focus for their research projects,” Riker said. “The students selected nine different aspects of Downtown they wanted to look into.”
Rusty Myers, chairman of Van Buren Original board of directors, said VBO is flattered that Riker selected Van Buren Downtown for her class’s semester project.
“Over the past couple of months, the students have been working diligently on their selected topics,” Myers said. “Their presentations should be interesting, informative and full of exciting new ideas for how we might go about improving the community, particularly downtown.”
The agenda for Tuesday’s session will include:
• Van Buren riverfront revival: Revitalizing the riverfront park experience through implementation of outdoor activities and visual appeal.
• Local merchants: Helping Main Street local merchants understand their target market and how they can improve their traffic based off of the team’s research.
• Current events - Hometown Holidays: Students will present information gathered through a survey and suggestions for the future.
Investors: The goal is to formulate a detailed strategy for VBO to use when attracting new investors while maintaining a small town value feel.
Thursday’s agenda includes:
• The King Opera House: The objectives of this presentation are to identify the reasoning behind the King Opera House not attracting more persons in or around Van Buren, find and suggest solutions to attract more people to the King Opera House, and determine if social media would effectively attract more people.
• Improving the atmospheric qualities of downtown Van Buren: This presentation is intended to show how improving atmospheric qualities of downtown will increase quality of place, and attract new economic activity to the area.
New business: The goal of this research is to work with Van Buren Original to determine the best way to bring new business into the downtown area and generate economic development and improved quality of place.
Train team: Students helped at the Van Buren train depot and A&M railroads to understand how to better advertise to the train riders and increase foot traffic from the excursion ride.
New events: Identifying and suggesting new and exciting quality events that would draw visitors and shoppers to downtown Van Buren. Students want to develop a realistic execution plan for these events and also want a plan to communicate these new events in the best way possible.
“We invite everyone who is interested to attend one or both days’ presentation events to show support and appreciation for the students and their work, and to gain fresh perspectives on how we might improve our community,” Myers said.