Off-campus programs offer a great service to students and local merchants alike, with the university taking a central role in fostering a strong town-gown relationship. In a show of gratitude for its local partnering merchants, High Point University held an event for nearly 100 local business owners, honoring them for their partnership with the university.
Per a report on the High Point’s official website, the university sponsored a luncheon for 150 of its Passport Partners – businesses that allow students, faculty and staff to make purchases using their HPU ID card. As part of the Passport program, the university provides student shuttles to and from a number of partnering businesses throughout the week, as well as invites merchants onto campus to promote their products and services.
Four local businesses, in particular, were awarded for their partnership efforts with the university. A local hotel was given the Experiential Learning Award for providing internships for High Point students. A social media award was given to a local jeweler for consistently posting, tweeting and engaging with university’s social media pages. A High Point barbecue restaurant was presented with the Campus Check-In Award for being present at numerous community and athletic events. And the university presented a Purple Friday Award (High Point’s school color) to two local restaurants for displaying university pride.
As of 2006, when High Point’s Passport Partner Program was created, the university had less than 10 partners. Today, the program has grown to 150 partners including a variety of restaurants, retail shops and merchants. Partners in the community are identified by High Point University umbrellas, flags and decals on shop windows and doors.
As part of its partnership with local businesses, the university can promote partners’ events, special offers or other services that might be of interest to High Point students. As a Passport Partner, the university also allows merchants to promote directly to students, faculty and staff by including a graphic in the emails sent out by the university’s concierge team.
High Point University brings an estimated 80,000 visitors to the city of High Point and has a $464.5 million economic impact on the city — a 190% increase from 2005. Fostering the relationship between a university and its surrounding community is vital at High Point, as it is with many other universities.