ASU Downtown campus, Yelp partner in bringing students, local businesses together

ASU's Downtown campus is looking to partner with online review website Yelp to help students and businesses connect.

Undergraduate Student Government Downtown President Frank Smith III has been working with a Yelp representative and his local affairs representatives to provide students and the University the opportunity to give back to the community.

"This is our way to give back to the community and to get more people into the mom-and-pop shops in downtown Phoenix," he said.

The program Smith has been working on will involve incentives given by businesses to students and will help these businesses by expanding their customer base.

"The incentives will help bring more traffic and make people more aware of local businesses," Smith said.

Ian Newcomb, intern for local affairs, said Yelp would offer the promotions to the students, and in turn students would receive a special discount or incentive to shop at the locations in a partnership.

"It is really designed to connect ASU students and the community," he said. "We are trying to get Phoenix Public Market to agree that for this Yelp advertising, when students shop or eat there (they) give them a special incentive like upgrading their drink size or small discounts."

Students are also encouraged to give their résumés to business owners partnering in the program for more incentives.

"Students can bring in résumés to these businesses and it will be used as an incentive," Newcomb said. "You will be able to give your résumé to people working in different fields and learn what you need to know when applying to these positions after graduating."

Fostering community growth is the key point to this program, Newcomb said.

"If you don't have the downtown areas and businesses interacting with the students, it does not create a good environment," he said. "So, in doing this, we are getting students to realize what is in the local area, and it shows these local businesses students are willing to come out and support them."

By having local businesses see that ASU and the large market of students are willing to support them, it will benefit ASU's downtown reputation and help the businesses expand, Newcomb said.

Director of Local Affairs Rebecca Smouse said she thinks the program will be an opportunity for students.

"It's a good opportunity for students to learn about the local market and work on their résumés while receiving an incentive from the local businesses," she said. "It will help ASU expand some more in areas outside of what we are accustomed to, and by working with Yelp, we get to work with local vendors and it provides more recognition for everyone."

Unifying the downtown area's businesses and student population will benefit all parties involved, Smouse said.

"It will help us to become one big community, and I think this will help make downtown one big community — not just ASU and downtown, but to help unify the whole area as one," Smouse said.

Unification between the Downtown campus and Phoenix has been part of President Michael Crow's initiative of the New American University and this program is one small step in that direction, Smith said.

Smith and his team will be taking the proposed program to the USGD Senate for approval before the program begins.

The program will begin as soon as USG and Yelp have determined which businesses will work best, Smith said.


Reach the reporter at or follow him on Twitter @joey_hancock


Editor's note: Rebecca Smouse is a State Press columnist. She was not involved in the reporting or writing of this article.

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