Originally created 05/17/02

Westside High project



Some students at Westside High School are concerned about wasted commercial space in Augusta, and on Thursday they voiced their opinions to city officials.

The school's marketing classes pitched their concerns and recommendations about Augusta area shopping plazas to Mayor Bob Young.

In a computer slide-show presentation, the students outlined the findings and objectives of a 2 1/2 -month study on several of the city's shopping plazas, including Augusta West and Augusta Exchange.

"We really wanted to know what happens to small businesses when big business comes in or moves out," said Renee Kelly, the marketing teacher.

The classes' goal is to increase shoppers' awareness of smaller businesses and their importance to community growth. The long term vision of the project is to reduce the construction of new plazas and renovate existing plazas to increase property values in the target areas.

The students surveyed business owners and consumers to find out what they thought about the current retail market.

Many businesses said sales do diminish when a competitor with similar products moves to the area. Consumers said they often avoid shopping centers congested with traffic.

"I really wanted to bring learning to life," Ms. Kelly said.

By the students' accounts, the project did just that.

Senior Ryan Keough said he learned a lot from the project.

"I didn't realize how much space was in west Augusta," Ryan said of the shopping centers.

Classmate Adam Herring said he was surprised to learn how many accidents occur in these shopping areas.

"They build these centers but don't change the flow of traffic causing lots of accidents," the senior said.

Mr. Young said the city is currently looking at the Augusta Exchange shopping center and the Deans Bridge Road area to amend traffic patterns in an effort to reduce the number of accidents.

Ms. Kelly said the study will continue with her marketing classes next year.

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552, or ashlee.griggs@augustachronicle.com.