Creating a College Town
In numerous discussions and planning workshops dedicated to improving Clarksville, a popular topic has been transforming the area from “a town with a college,” to “a college town.” The University of the Ozarks is taking big steps to do just that.
At the last Quarterly Business Meeting, Comprehensive Planner James Walden discussed how a large number of businesses in Clarksville are employed by workers who are living outside of the city. Workers who live outside of Clarksville may have less opportunity to be engaged and involved in community development, and Ozarks is addressing that issue. Because one key factor in bridging the gap between the community and the University is having staff members who live within city limits, the University has announced an incentive plan to entice their workforce to live in Clarksville.
The University is offering employees a bonus amounting to 20% of their annual salaries to purchase a house in Clarksville. This news has been met with excitement from the staff, buzz within the community, and press coverage in the nationwide publication, The Chronicle of Education. While Ozarks faculty and staff have already begun to take advantage of the incentive, employees also have another option. The University currently owns several residences near the campus that are available for employees to rent, and they may add more in the future.
Key characteristics of a college town are vibrant nightlife, pleasant aesthetics, recreational availabilities, and opportunities for entrepreneurialism. “We want these kids to graduate and start businesses here,” said John Williams, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Chamber. His statement echoes many of the sentiments discussed in strategic planning sessions for Clarksville’s future.
While there are many factors to consider when creating a college town, the University of the Ozarks has illustrated its significant investment in creating a more connected community, and is likely to inspire those working to build Clarksville up toward its full potential.
CREDO Website Provides Business Resources
The Clarksville Regional Economic Development Organization is a 501C(3) group of local citizens with experience in managing complex business operations, business ownership, and property development. CREDO provides business resources to new and existing businesses, and works to improve the local economic climate, and community as a whole.
CREDO’s website, ClarksvilleARDevelopment.org, is a useful source of knowledge and tools to start, grow, and expand a business. Entrepreneurs will find the “Start a Business” guide to be particularly helpful, as it contains a wealth of information, including a business model creation guide, cash flow charts, and licensing requirements for new businesses.
Recently, the Clarksville City Council passed CREDO’s incentive plan to be offered to acquire potential business investment. Incentive information is available at ClarksvilleARDevelopment.org/incentives.
This plan will allow the CREDO staff to assist potential new businesses in obtaining various benefits, and will help Clarksville’s economy grow as a result of new business investment.
Music on the Square Beats the Storm
Fans of Music on the Square are no stranger to rainchecks. Downtown Clarksville’s monthly live music event has failed to be reinstated for three months, due to a number of perfect storms—pun intended. However, in August, Clarksville learned that the fourth time’s a charm, and attendees gathered at the courthouse steps to enjoy the Big Little Band—consisting of Josh Wilson, Tessa Dickerson, Misty Crumrine Hardgrave, Caleb Keith, Jordan Mayes and fourth grader Penelope Wilson.
The band played “hillbilly versions” of songs by Creedance Clearwater Revival, Cher, and Taylor Swift, just to name a few. After a great hour-long set, the band called it a day, and less than twenty minutes later, Clarksville was treated to yet another thunderstorm.
Music on the Square is set to return to downtown Clarksville September 15th, weather permitting.
Chamber Rebuilds Shop Local Program
Shop Local is a movement encouraging local purchasing as a way to stimulate the local economy and support local businesses. In a strategic planning session, the Chamber saw this as an opportunity to help incentivize local spending.
In the past, the Chamber offered “Member 2 Member Deals,” later called “Hot Deals,” but the program was not particularly marketed or taken advantage of. Now, the Chamber has rebranded and rebuilt the program, and is already seeing a great level of participation within the community.
Shop Local is a service offered to Chamber Members that allows them to redeem immediate discounts for purchases made at participating stores. Members receive a Shop Local card that they can present at the register, and save up to 20% on purchases. “We at the Chamber see this as an opportunity to bring more benefit to Chamber Members and the city as a whole,” said Jessica Gunn, Membership Manager at the Chamber. To learn more about the Shop Local program, visit ClarksvilleARChamber.com/shoplocal.
Chamber Elevates Leadership Johnson County
Leadership Johnson County is searching for promising members of the community who have demonstrated potential to have a positive impact in their business, for their employer, and for Johnson County's future. The program informs, motivates, and challenges participants to work toward their potential as a leader. Participants will learn about and engage directly in Economic and Community Development, Technology and Sustainability, Education, Government, Healthcare, and Community Service.
Advancements have been made within the program to put a stronger emphasis on educating participants in regards to the development of various qualities of a leader. These recent advancements elevate the program to the standard of nationwide leadership programs, and will be of tremendous direct value to participants and the community.