LANSING (WILX)-- Schools do all kinds of things to welcome its students back, but what about the communities those schools are in?
Downtown Lansing hosted an event for college kids Friday night. "Downtown Lansing 101" was an effort to let students know there are plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, just a few miles from their comfort zone.
With Cooley Law School, Davenport University, Lansing Community College, and Michigan State University nearby, there are more than 65,000 students surrounding downtown Lansing. The problem is, a majority of them have never visited the area.
"There's no point to leaving. Everything is here and in walking distance," said Kyle Schimmoeller, MSU Sophomore.
Getting students to break away from that mind-set has been hard says Cathleen Edgerly with Downtown Lansing Inc.
"It's something we've been struggling for a while. We're just trying to figure out the best way to reach out to students and tap into that market," said Edgerly.
Owner of Grand Arts Supply, Greg Limmer, says it's always been a struggle to get students to visit the store.
"I've had students that came in their fourth year and have never been downtown," said Limmer.
But businesses think they've finally found a way to break the barrier by hosting the "Downtown 101" event.
"Just to get their name out there,and to get their product in front of the students. (These businesses are) opening up their doors, extending their hours, and saying 'hey we're rolling out the red carpet for you,'" said Edgerly.
The word has been getting out around the local campus's, and students seem ready to explore something new.
"You get tired of going to the same place every time," said MSU Sophomore, Dicarche Bozeman.
If successful, it could mean a big impact not only for the businesses, but for the entire downtown district year-round.
"They are going to be handing out coupons for their next visit to come back, and really just making that personal connection too," said Edgerly.
"Tonight there's not going to be a lot of sales. That's not what tonight is about, it's just for people to find the place and to find the other places downtown," said Limmer.
The event goes until eight o'clock Friday night. If you're planning on going out, don't forget your student i-d, it could help you win more prizes and giveaways. Students are also encouraged to take pictures and post thme to twitter with the hashtag "DL101" for a chance to win a grand prize pack.