UNLV students devise ways to draw more people downtown

Further progress of downtown Las Vegas’ transformation could depend on a handful of University of Nevada, Las Vegas undergraduate students, thanks to a partnership between a marketing class and the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance.

UNLV Lee Business School professor Jack Schibrowsky and the 60 students in his marketing, planning and analysis class have spent the fall semester studying various aspects of downtown, from different area businesses to district crime rates. Each student is required to submit an individual marketing plan at the end of the semester designed to attract residents to downtown Las Vegas.

Schibrowsky said this project is particularly ideal for his students, given UNLV’s role in the community.

"We’re a community-centered university," Schibrowsky said. "The essence of being a large metropolitan university is that you are an integral part of the community around you. We try to work with a local entity with these live projects, and it’s nice to be doing something that’s happening now."

The business professor has conducted similar projects with local nonprofit groups, such as The Shade Tree, in the past. This year’s partnership also gives undergraduates the chance to work with one of Schibrowsky’s former students and Downtown Las Vegas Alliance member John Tippins.

Tippins, Northcap Comm ercial broker and owner of Tippins Holdings LLC, said working with Schibrowsky’s class provides a mutually beneficial relationship between the students and downtown.

"This is a great project for the class because it encourages them to stay in Las Vegas after they graduate," Tippins said. "It’s a win-win situation because it’s promoting UNLV and downtown Las Vegas."

Tippins hopes to take ideas from the students and develop a strategy for downtown .

"My goal was to get 60 untapped ideas from people who may or may not have thought about downtown before," Tippins said. "It’s cool they’re able to spend the entire semester working on this, knowing it’s going into improving the current state of downtown."

Students recognize the importance of their semester-long project, noting the hours of research and professionals’ consideration for their ideas are incentives to put in as much work as possible.

"When you have established people come in and ask about ideas from students, it means a lot," student Aaron Reed said. "They can easily ignore us because we’re college students, but by them asking us (for ideas), it makes us work harder."

Schibrowsky’s students have made several observations with the project, concluding that business owners’ and residents’ perspectives of downtown vary greatly and a belief that downtown lacks a central website or source of information to find out about events.

Maraea Skeen said she and her classmates provide a unique and much- needed perspective on marketing downtown that should appeal to investors.

"We have a younger viewpoint on (downtown)," Skeen said. "We know social networking. We have that knowledge about Twitter and Facebook and marketing, and that’s the biggest thing (investors) can take advantage of."

Schibrowsky said of all aspects surrounding this project, one of the most important is the impact that his students’ work has on potential job prospects, as most are graduating either this month or in May 2012.

"One of the skill sets employers expect is for you to develop a marketing plan," Schibrowsky said. "It’s their individual project, their plan, and they can say they had an impact on something real."

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at lcarter@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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