University, chamber and Main Street Program awarded for partnership
PLATTEVILLE-Referred to as a "shining example of public and private entities working together," the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Platteville Main Street Program were recently presented with the Best Downtown Marketing Campaign Award by the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council for Platteville's "Discover Downtown" program.
Discover Downtown, an event developed by the UWP New Student Orientation Committee, the Platteville Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Program, provides new UWP students with an opportunity to become familiar with local businesses through a variety of activities.
"UWP Dining Services provides a buffet picnic at the Platteville City Park, requiring a meal ticket to participate," said Cheryl Zmina, program manager for the Platteville Main Street Program. "During the picnic, a WSUP radio station disc jockey provides entertainment and prizes. When everyone is fed, students are given downtown shopping bags filled with coupons, free samples and advertisements, along with a game card containing the names of all the stores participating in a scavenger hunt.
"Students are then turned loose on downtown and instructed that they have one hour to get their game cards stamped at each store before returning to the park. No maps are given, thus encouraging visual contact with lots of downtown stores. Game cards are then used as door prize qualifiers."
When the event was first held last year, roughly 500 new students participated in Discover Downtown. The event has proven popular among students and merchants, with nearly 600 students participating in this year's Discover Downtown, held the Friday of Labor Day weekend.
Some of the comments overheard after the scavenger hunt were "Wow! My dad's birthday is next week and there's a hunting shop where I can buy his gift." And, "I found a great place to buy gifts for my girlfriend." After visiting the Chinese restaurant on Main Street, a group of eight students returned the following evening for dinner. Merchants said they were very pleased with the results of Discover Downtown, as were UWP New Student Orientation Committee members.
"The primary goal for UWP is to establish early on that students don't have to go home on the weekends for something to do or to go shopping," said David Nevins, coordinator of the New Student Orientation Program. "The Discover Downtown event does a good job familiarizing our students with Platteville, and in turn has a positive affect on our retention efforts. Students who feel comfortable and enjoy living in a community are more likely to finish their education in that community, and anything we can do to improve the relationship between the city and the University makes a world of positive difference for everyone involved."
The plaque recognizing UWP, the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Program will be displayed at the chamber office.