Promoting the Area & Creating Customers ● Engaging Students on Social Media ● Workforce Development
CUMBERLAND VALLEY, PA (October 29, 2015) - On October 14, 2015 Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) hosted a roundtable that focused on the importance of our higher education institutions and ways CAEDC will be partnering with them in the future.
Enrollment numbers from Central Penn College, Dickinson College, Messiah College, Penn State Dickinson School of Law and Shippensburg University collectively are over 15,000. These students and their families are visitors first and represent an important target market for CAEDC and the local business community.
Promoting the Area & Creating Customers
CAEDC would like to play a role in connecting students and their parents to the local business community by promoting the area and its assets. The local business owners that attended the roundtable were happy to get in front of representatives from the institutions to ask the best ways to turn their students and visiting families into customers.
Ashley Perzyna, Assistant Chief of Staff at Dickinson College, shared, "From the moment they arrive on campus, we want our students to know that being a Carlisle resident is an integral part of the Dickinson College experience. We hope that local businesses and restaurants will join us in helping our students feel welcome in the downtown by offering discounts, incentives or through other collaborative opportunities like Senior Week."
One of the obstacles presented at the roundtable was that due to the size of the staff at our higher education institutions it is not always easy for local businesses to get to the person they need to discuss student promotions, event opportunities and ways to promote their business on campus. CAEDC sees this as an opportunity to get the correct contact information from our institutions to share with our business partners to help bridge the communication gap.
Our higher education institutions also understand the importance of promoting this destination, and its assets, to incoming students as well. "Messiah College's viewbook, which is distributed nationally to thousands of prospective students and their parents, includes a map of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. It highlights the strategic location of our region with ease of travel to Philadelphia, Washington, and New York City," said Michael True, Senior Associate, Talent Development & Marketing at Messiah College.
There are other ways for students to become integrated into the community as well, for example the Dickinson Law School looks to place its students on area boards.
"Dickinson Law, which is now one of two fully-accredited Penn State law schools, values its location in Carlisle and its partnerships in Carlisle and Central Pennsylvania. We are very proud, for example, of our 'Leading Law Students' program which was developed to provide law students with the opportunity to serve the community by participating on the Board of a nonprofit organization. We have placed a number of law students in board positions and believe that it is beneficial for both the organizations and the law students," said Laurel S. Terry, Professor of Law at Dickinson Law.
Interested organizations can contact Assistant Dean Yolanda Ingram at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about this program.
Engaging Students on Social Media
One of the areas CAEDC has been focusing on in 2015, and will continue to focus on in 2016, is engaging students from our various institutions into the community. In 2015, CAEDC met Savannah Riley and Trevor Diamond, two students from Dickinson College that are active on Student Senate. They have a desire to embrace their community and experience the area outside of their school walls, while sharing their experiences with fellow students.
One way CAEDC and the students began working together was to create a Dickinson Perspectives section on the Cumberland Valley blog. Now on CumberlandValleyPA.com, viewers can click on the designated tab for Dickinson and read students' accounts of their favorite places to eat, explore, shop and more in Cumberland Valley.
James Dappert, Director of Operations of the Dickinson Student Senate, Class of 2017 shared, "From the Dickinson side, we want our involvement with the Valley to expand Dickinson's involvement with the community outside of our campus so that, over time, it becomes a regular occurrence for a Dickinsonian to open the blog and find limitless possibilities of things to do. We want the blogs to range from restaurants, music festivals, ski trips, movies, theater, art - the works. The goal is to pop the Dickinson bubble - and we will work our hardest to make that happen."
CAEDC's goal for 2016 is to engage student bloggers from our other institutions to create a Student Life section of the blog that will speak to current and prospective students, as well as their families.
Laura Potthoff, Business Retention & Expansion Manager at CAEDC, also discussed the topic of workforce development at the roundtable. She, along with the career development contacts from our various institutions, highlighted the top majors and programs students are entering.
CAEDC has been working in 2015, and will continue in 2016, to meet with our major employers to uncover any current or potential workforce gaps and communicate those needs back to our institutions. Our institutions are already adapting to a changing workforce with new demands on graduates.
Laura Ludlam, Director of Marketing and Publications at Shippensburg University, shared, "Shippensburg University has a great partnership with Volvo Construction Equipment, an international company with North American headquarters just down the road from campus. At any given time there are about 50 undergraduate students working at Volvo from human resources to production line management, supply chain and elsewhere up and down the line. Our new bachelor's degree in electrical engineering came out of strategic discussions with Volvo about academic programs that will prepare the talent they seek."
These important partnerships can start as early as high school. "Central Penn College is proud to partner with area schools and organizations to bring high school students to campus. This includes hosting events for organizations such as the Capital Region Partnership for Career Education to educate students, faculty, and career coordinators about various careers and career development options; as well as hosting a Base Camp Summit for local high school students," said Steve Hassinger, Career Services Director at Central Penn College.
CAEDC will continue to place an emphasis on connecting our business community to our higher education institutions. Workforce development will be an area of focus for CAEDC moving forward and is an important part of the Business Retention and Expansion Strategy in the Economic Development Plan for Cumberland County.
CAEDC is Cumberland County's authorized agency charged with leveraging and promoting Cumberland Valley's economic development and tourism assets to drive growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life. Offices are located at 53 W. South Street, Carlisle PA. For more information, visit www.cumberlandbusiness.com and www.visitcumberlandvalley.com.