The traffic is a little heavier around Clarksville these days. More cars are heading down College Street, trying to find that rare parking spot within the Austin Peay State University campus. Classes are back in session at the University, and with close to a thousand more students attending this year, the number of people on the roads and walking the sidewalks will definitely be noticeable.
“But that’s a good problem to have,” Kenny Kennedy, Student Government Association president at APSU, said. “Parking is one of those good problems to have because it means you have a full campus.”And Kennedy said the SGA is working this year to keep more of those students on campus after normal class hours, thus providing both a financial stimulus and a work force resource for the entire Clarksville community.“We’re going to have a thousand more students as fresh talent,” he said. “Businesses can get a lot of quality people for internships, and students can get experience. They’re willing to do jobs some people won’t do, just hoping for a letter of recommendation.”
Kennedy hopes the Clarksville business community will now look to the bustling APSU population as a great resource for potential employees. But to do that, students need to stay in Clarksville longer than just the hour or two that they attend class. That’s where the SGA is stepping up its efforts.
“Our biggest event in the SGA is the Mudbowl,” Kennedy said. “This year, we’re holding it on Saturday. The idea is we’re trying to slowly add programming on the weekends to make this a place to be on weekends. We don’t want people to go to class and go home. It’s not beneficial to Clarksville when students commute from, say, Robertson County, go to class and then go home.”
Kennedy said by providing incentives for students to stay on campus longer, they’ll also frequent more local restaurants and shop at more local stores.
The University, Kennedy pointed out, is also taking other steps to keep students on campus. APSU recently opened an Honors Commons this year, providing a lounge space for honors students and President’s Emerging Leaders Program students. The Veterans Lounge offers a space for students who previously served in the military, and the SGA is offering its own lounge space this year for the rest of the campus population.
“A lot of these little things are popping up all over campus to keep students here,” Kennedy said. “When classes start, business should notice all the new students. Restaurants and stores should be busy. It’s really going to be an awesome year.”