"College Town" may not be the first label you apply to the City of Troy, but with 15,000 thousand students in residence during the school year, it certainly applies. Now, local businesses are looking to tap into that market. Our Matt Hunter reports on a new incentive program to bring them and their wallets downtown.
TROY, N.Y. -- For most new college students, it doesn't take long to realize you're on a budget.
"Especially when the dining hall closes and you're really hungry late at night, there's no money. So it's hard to find places to get food and stuff," said Liz Henkin, a Russell Sage student.
In the city of Troy, those cash strapped co-eds come in large numbers. Within walking distance of downtown shops are more than 15,000 students from Hudson Valley Community College, RPI and Russell Sage. In many cases, their limited incomes keep them from emptying their wallets at local businesses.
"You know, I think there are a lot of students who I think, perhaps, haven't explored downtown and once we get those folks into the city, even more business will grow from it," said Elizabeth Young, Troy Downtown Business Improvement District Executive Director
In an effort to lure students off campus and bring them downtown, the Troy Business Improvement District has launched a new student incentive program. More than 40 participating businesses now offer students a discount of up to 25 percent.
"We really want the college students to know we're here and offer them a little bit more of an incentive to shop with us," said Donna Harris, Owner of Sticky Fingers Gourmet Apples.
"It's just a little thing we can offer to make sure they tell their friends and when their families come to visit they can come in and really promote what downtown Troy is all about," said Margaret Partyka, from Some Girls Boutique.
Participating stores like Sticky Fingers Gourmet Apples and Some Girls Boutique feature special student incentive stickers on their storefronts. Less than a week in, the program already seems to be paying dividends.
"I really think that college students are a huge, huge economic opportunity for businesses here in downtown Troy. We really need to show them that we care and help to bring them off of campus into downtown to show them what we have," said Young.
"We have it right at our fingertips, so we like to go out and we like to have fun, so when we have discounts, we'll be more likely probably," said Emily Dixon, a Russell Sage student.