Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 24, 2012

BSC, city officials hoping to draw students downtown

BLUEFIELD — College classes may soon return to downtown Bluefield as part of a partnership between city and college officials.

Bluefield State College and the city of Bluefield have partnered together in a joint-task force to help revitalize the downtown area and collaborate on future development projects for both entities.

The task force will be made up of 10 members with six representatives from Bluefield State and four from the city including the economic development director, city manager, transit authority manager, and a member of the city board.

Dr. Marsha Krotseng, president of Bluefield State College, said both the college and the city of Bluefield are equally invested in the area’s economic future.

“We have been talking about ways for the college and city to work together because it is very important as the city grows and develops,” Krotseng said. “Economic development is just as important to the college, and we want to be mutually supportive of each other. This task force will allow us to get together, put our creative minds together and see how we can benefit the city, college and entire region here in southern West Virginia.”

Greg Shrewsbury, economic development director for the city, said a think tank formed of college and city leaders could help solve growth and economic development issues both the city and Bluefield State are facing.

“What I have found with Dr. Krotseng is she has really reached out to the city, and the college is very interested in supporting the city and vice versa,” Shrewsbury said. “From an economic standpoint, it helps create traffic downtown. From the city’s standpoint, I think there is some real synergy that could be created between the college and the city. The college is a real asset to the city. The college has to be at the table when we talk about economic planning.”

Shrewsbury said holding Bluefield State classes in downtown Bluefield is one idea that has been discussed to bring a younger population into the area.

“One of the short term goals is to have a classes being held downtown by next year,” he said. “This would be in one of the buildings downtown. The college already owns the R&D building downtown and there is other available space downtown. We think we can assist the college students with our transportation authority.”

Faculty, staff and students can each provide different perspectives on how the area can grow, Krotseng said.

“From the college’s side, there will be faculty, staff and students represented on the task force,” she said. “It is critical to have all of those perspectives on the task force as faculty and staff are current residents of the area and many are long-time residents, so they could bring a lot of information to bear.”

Krotseng said the student population is key in helping revitalize Bluefield.

“The students represent the future of our city and our state,” Krotseng said. “If we can get the students excited and help bring them into this discussion I think that could really bring some enthusiasm and revitalization to the area. The student population is very critical. They are a key population for the city to increase our economy. These people have a lot of energy and want to participate in the community and get their friends involved. They can tell others this is a great place to live and help enhance it to bring the quality of life that helps all residents.”

Krotseng said partnering with the city is a good opportunity for Bluefield State.

“We really believe there is a great deal of opportunity out there,” Krotseng said. “It is just a matter of making that happen. It is really important to have a very strong partnership and relationship between the college and the city.”

Shrewsbury said the college population could help provide the city with new ideas and resources.

“The younger people are the folks we have to reach out to and have to get involved in the process,” Shrewsbury said. “We want six of the representatives on the task force to come from Bluefield State and at least one of those should be a student from the college. It is all about tapping into our college resources, getting our younger people used to coming downtown, and getting their ideas about our future. We have a lot of intellectual capital at Bluefield State we haven’t engaged that we need to engage with.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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