More college-friendly retailers?

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March 30, 2007

2:59 PM

__City, College work together to provide more off-campus food, fun for students__

In light of studies showing a need for additional entertainment and retail options around campus, the College is pursuing increased economic development in Williamsburg.

p. In January of 2006, The Wessex Group conducted a study to analyze the College’s economic impact. It found that in 2005, the College contributed $539 million to the state and attracted approximately 120,000 visitors. Students are estimated to spend over $11 million in the Williamsburg area each year.

p. “The report reminds us that William and Mary’s contributions to the Commonwealth go beyond providing an educational experience unlike any other,” College President Gene Nichol said in a Feb. 28, 2006 article in William and Mary News.

p. In 2006, the College formed the Real Estate Foundation, which is working with the city and developers to attract development accessible to students.

p. “The Real Estate Foundation was formed to acquire and manage real estate in support of the educational goals of the College of William and Mary. The Foundation hired Nancy Buchanan as executive director in January of 2007. She formerly acquired property for Virginia Commonwealth University and some of its foundations,” James Golden, Associate Vice-president of Economic Development and Corporate affairs, said.

p. The Foundation is currently applying for status as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

p. The College is focusing on developing the area around Wawa and the intersection of Monticello and Mount Vernon Avenues.

p. “The Foundation will work with businesses and with the city. It’s particularly important that the city and the College be aligned on this kind of initiative. The city staff has been very supportive of this initiative, and we plan to work very closely with them,” Golden said.

p. A Daily Press article entitled “To up its cool factor, W&M seeking hot spots” reported, “The 2006 survey of perceptions of the school among prospective and current students was conducted by consulting group Widmeyer Communications. In it, students said they saw the school as an excellent academic institution, but that, according to the survey, there was a ‘lack of social life on a campus that lacks a real college town.’”

p. “Students listed movie theaters, sports bars or other bars with alcoholic beverages, retail clothing stores and inexpensive or fast-food restaurants as their top four preferences for stores within walking distance,” the article stated.

p. This survey, in addition to the Wessex survey, demonstrates the need for increased development.

p. “All of our surveys suggest that the academic experience at William and Mary is outstanding, but students would like to have more to do off campus,” Golden said.

p. This issue has prompted the recent formation of the Student Chamber of Commerce, a student group designed to better the economic and entertainment experience of College students.
Its main goals are to annually poll students about their economic expenditures and needs, publish reviews of businesses, support student-run enterprises and advocate economic development of the city.

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