HOUGHTON - Michigan Technological University students talked to members of the local business community this morning about what they like about the area and what things they'd like to see improve.
Students Megan Plis, Kaylee Betzinger and Chris LaBaere spent an hour answering questions at the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce's monthly Eggs & Issues forum.
The area was a big draw for Betzinger and LaBaere, who are from downstate Cedar Springs and Shelby Township, respectively.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
From left, Michigan Technological University students Chris LaBaere, Kaylee Betzinger and Megan Plis talk during the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues forum this morning in Houghton.
"I enjoyed the fact that I could go biking 10 minutes out of class," said Labaere, who likes to go to the Tech trails or in Copper Harbor.
Plis, a Hancock native, said she doesn't do much shopping elsewhere or online. However, she said, if she goes to Chicago, she will shop for clothes.
"Before a shop that does primarily sell clothing could do very well here, we'd have to change our habits," she said.
LaBaere said he wants to see a Jimmy John's come to the area; Betzinger would like an "eclectic, old record store" and backpacking store, with information, guides and outdoor gear.
"There's not a good quality of it here, and if it is, it's really expensive," she said.
Betzinger, who lives in downtown Houghton, also strongly backed the idea of a grocery-pharmacy within walking distance, particularly for goods such as cosmetics, shampoo and toilet paper.
"I would love it," she said. "I would absolutely love it if there's a grocery here, and there's a ton of people in my building that would love it."
The students considered the lack of chain stores in the area an asset; Betzinger said among people she knows, it's split about evenly between trying to shop locally and making runs to Walmart.
As for entertainment choices, Betzinger said downtown Houghton has a lot of choices for students.
"I don't think it's Grand Rapids or Detroit, but I don't think it needs to be," she said.
Still, she said, a lot of students aren't aware what's in downtown, or even set foot there.
Plis suggested businesses form partnerships with some of the student organizations, which would provide an entrance to advertising opportunities on campus.
Many students look at bulletin boards while waiting for class, Betzinger said, while businesses could also reach eyeballs through ads on the TV screens around campus.
Betzinger said the Taste of Houghton event at the start of the school year received a lot of positive attention on campus.
"If there's something like that on the next semester orientation, that'd be perfect, because you get all those people, plus the people there in the fall come back," she said.
There are also opportunities online. Plis said if she sees a Facebook page she likes for a business, she'll share the link with her friends.
"If it's really good for us, we're going to spread the word," she said.