Photo by Curt Yeomans / Students congregate Thursday in the lobby of Clayton State University’s James M. Baker University Center. Morrow officials want to turn the city into more of a traditional college town by attracting more businesses which cater to students.
MORROW — Clayton State University students Brittany Miller and Brian Bryant aren’t asking for much from the city of Morrow.
They said Thursday they just want some places to hang out and some sort of small scale transportation to help them get around town. When they heard the city was looking at doing more to cater to college students, they had the same reaction.
“It’s about time!” they said in unison.
Morrow officials recently found out the Georgia Municipal Association approved a proposal to develop ways to turn the city into more of a “college town” was approved for inclusion in GMA’s UGA Local Government Practicum program. University of Georgia student Brian Lipton has been assigned to work with the city as an intern on the project, said Morrow City Manager Jeff Eady.
“That’s something we’re working on with their marketing group — to brand our selves as a college town,” said Eady. “They’re a great asset and we don’t promote it like we should, so we’re going to start.”
Eady said the college is an “economic driver” for the city. He is hopeful “University Station,” the land development previously known as “Gateway Village” on Ga. 54, will draw interest from businesses that cater to college students, he said.
“From that becomes more and we’ll put banners up promoting more of the college and being in a partnership with the college, and actually recognize their existence in the city,” said Eady.
“And pull the university out on the other side of 54 maybe,” city Finance Director Dan Defnall quickly added.
Part of that, Eady said, would require the university to expand west of Lee Street and build out towards 54 “so it’s more visible and has more of a presence. Right now it’s tucked off in the woods and you don’t really know it’s there.”
The city manager said it would even help to get college student-friendly businesses on the south side of Clayton State Boulevard, between Lee Street and Ga. 54.
Students have their own ideas about what they think would help Morrow become an “Athens of the Southern Crescent.”
Mostly, they want a small transit system that can help students without transportation get off campus and into the city. Several students said students at the university were cut off, even from just the city of Morrow, when the county shut down its C-Tran bus service in 2010.
“It’s very difficult to carry 30 bags of groceries even just down the hill, from Kroger to campus, when it’s 30 degrees outside so something to help us get around would be nice,” said Bryant, a senior from Conyers.
“It would be nice if they had something exclusively for college students,” said Miller, a junior from Atlanta. “I’m not recommending they bring back C-Tran. I’m just saying they could have something small so we can get around Morrow.”
Student C.J. Banks said another way the city could do more to cater to students is to encourage the development of more venues “just whether its for parties or for graduations” that could be available to the university community. Banks knows something about what its like to be in a college town — he grew up in Athens, which many people consider to be the quintessential college town.
“They have a lot more going on there than we have going in Morrow,” he said. “There is a lot of activity going on in Athens.”
Part of Morrow’s problem, Banks said, is many Clayton State students don’t know what the city has to offer, even after attending the college for several years.
“No one really knows what’s down here,” he said.