Release Date: Friday, August 24th 2012
Tempe businesses greet ASU students' return
By Dianna Nanez
Thousands of college students are settling in as Arizona State University begins its fall session Thursday.
Traffic is heavier.
Businesses are busier.
And there is a lot more maroon and gold on the streets.
"It's like night and day," said Gil Schmitt, who owns Sparky's Old Town Creamery, an ice-cream shop, and Thirsty Dog 2 Go, a convenience store, in downtown Tempe.
ASU's Tempe campus has been the largest campus in the nation by enrollment in recent years. Last year, more than 50,000 students were enrolled.
ASU will host campus orientations and welcome-back parties throughout the week. Students are invited to take part in the annual whitewashing of "A" Mountain at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Businesses that depend on the students are welcoming their return.
Mary Ann Miller, Tempe Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer, said the students are especially important to the success of downtown Tempe businesses.
"I think that particularly, the closer you get to the campus, restaurants and retailers feel it much more," she said. "House of Tricks (restaurant) even closes for part of the summer."
Downtown businesses often struggle during the summer months given students' departure and the loss of snowbirds and tourists who avoid the Valley's hot weather.
Tempe businesses will often shift their operations to cater to students when ASU is session.
"Anytime you have an influx of this many people, you're going to have a good impact on the economy," she said. "They really do create a vibrancy in Tempe that you don't see anywhere else."
Schmitt said his business has already increased by about one-third this past weekend as students began moving back to Tempe.
Schmitt is so pleased with the economic boost that he doesn't even mind the 10 minutes added to his commute to his Ahwatukee home when ASU is in session.
"I just think it's huge that once you add that influx of that many students back into the population we're all going to benefit," he said. "That's the way it should be, that all of us help each other to make it. We serve the kids and they help keep us going."
For a list of ASU welcome-back activities visit: students.asu.edu/fallwelcome.