A group of West Virginia University students are implementing the skills they’re learning in the classroom to improve a community’s economy.

Six senior students majoring in public relations in the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism campaigns course are teaming with Shinnston City Manager Debra Herndon and a group of active community members, volunteers and business owners to launch a “Buy Local” campaign in their town. The project’s goal is to raise community awareness about the importance and economic value of shopping at locally owned businesses.

“Every purchase makes a difference to a small store owner,” Herndon said. “This campaign will help people realize the many ways shopping locally can benefit the community in which they live.”

The students will travel to Shinnston throughout the spring semester to conduct research, create promotional pieces and work with local business owners in developing strategies to encourage citizens from Shinnston and its surrounding communities to shop locally.

“This campaign will increase the awareness of the businesses Shinnston is blessed to have and showcase the diversity of those businesses,” said Kathleen Panek, owner of Gillum House Bed and Breakfast in Shinnston.

In addition to supporting local businesses, the WVU public relations students will also benefit from the campaign.

“This project allows the students the opportunity to gain real-world experience while improving a community and boosting a town’s economy,” said Dr. Rita Colistra, assistant professor and instructor of the public relations campaigns course. “The students aren’t just implementing a campaign. They’re providing the business owners and the community with the knowledge to help themselves long after our involvement.”

The project is made possible by a $5,000 Campus-Community LINK grant, which was obtained by Colistra and the Buy Local committee through the West Virginia Campus Compact and the WVU Center for Civic Engagement.

For more information about Buy Local Shinnston, contact Debra Herndon at 304-592-3076.



CONTACT: Jackie Cook, project PR Director
724-263-1465, jcook29@mix.wvu.edu

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