By Joe Vaccarelli
Monday, August 7, 2017
The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is looking to ensure college students receive a warm welcome from local businesses when they return to Colorado Mesa University for the fall semester.
Through its CMU 20000 initiative, the chamber is distributing packets it put together to businesses that include a window sign that states, “We are CMU.” Other materials include a brochure explaining CMU 20000 and a card explaining how businesses can participate in the effort, such as offering student discounts.
CMU 20000 is a campaign to grow the university’s student body and create support from the local community. The goal is to bring enrollment up to 15,000 students and have 5,000 community supporters. The level of support could range from people who attend a theater performance to a business owner who volunteers to visit a class and work with students, according to chamber President and CEO Diane Schwenke.
“We want to embrace our identity with CMU,” she said. “This is a very visible step.”
Schwenke said she hopes this effort can reach 1,000 businesses by the time classes start at CMU on Aug. 21 to, in the long term, build community and university collaboration and make Grand Junction feel like a college town. She noted that 15,000 students would have a $600 million annual impact on the city.
The Grand Junction Chamber Diplomats and CMU Alumni Association are working with local business districts such as the Horizon Drive Business Improvement District in distributing packets. Volunteers will visit businesses in the coming days to speak to owners and hand out materials for the project. Businesses can also visit the chamber office at 360 Grand Ave. to pick up materials.
“I think it’s a great program. I think it’s a great idea,” Horizon Drive BID Executive Director Vara Kusal said. “We love CMU, they’re growing and very forward-thinking and we want to help in any way we can.”
Zane Hyland, a CMU graduate and local business owner, spent part of his Monday visiting some businesses in the downtown area.
Hyland joined the chamber last month and was looking for a way to give back. He said he saw the value in businesses building a relationship with college students and he received a positive response from business owners he visited. Hyland recently opened Maverick Pest Management.
“Being a CMU grad, I see the importance of this campaign,” Hyland said. “As CMU grows, Grand Junction can grow and it becomes a cycle.”