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Ashland University students to study uptown Norwalk

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:06 PM

Uptown Norwalk will be the focus for an upper-level marketing class at Ashland University soon as the class studies the effects of revitalization completed almost 10 years ago and maps out what the area needs next.

The 20 students in "Special Topics in Marketing, Business 451" will survey all uptown businesses and random consumers in both uptown and the north end of the city for their class project. They will gather data in February and March.

Dave Gulden, Main Street manager, and Bethany Dentler, economic development director for the Norwalk area, said the results of the study will help determine what type of businesses might come to the uptown area.

"If we were to pay for this study, it would be very expensive," Gulden said. He said the cooperative effort between Uptown Norwalk and Ashland University is a win-win situation the city gets important information and the students get valuable experience.

Dentler said the timing for the study is great for the city.

"It is always helpful to take a look back and then see where we are now," she said, adding that since the revitalization project was completed in 1999 the uptown area has not undertaken an economic impact study to look at the long-term effects of the project.

Among other things, Dentler said, the study will help assess how much uptown Norwalk contributes to the city's tax base. It will also help determine consumer satisfaction, technical assistance needs and also help target businesses to attract, she said.

Professor Kristen Hovsepian, who has taught marketing and business at Ashland for 27 years, said her class completed a similar study for Willard a few years ago. She teams up with the small business development center based at the university for the class.

She said the class will use statistical analysis to come up with data to present in a public meeting in late April in Norwalk.

If they have time, the college students also will look at property values, tax information and other data, but Hovsepian said that part of the study might have to wait until the fall semester.

"It may be something we pick up where we leave off next fall," she said, because of the in-depth research necessary for the first part of the project.

To make sure students are prepared to talk to a random sample of consumers, Hovsepian said, the consumer surveys will be available in both English and Spanish.

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