Summer enrollment helps local businesses

James Farmer

It’s hard enough for local businesses to stay afloat during a nationwide recession and with a major demographic of Georgia Southern University students leaving ev veere every summer you have a recipe for financial disaster.

Luckily for Statesboro proprietors, the steady increases in summer enrollment have been good for more than just GSU’s numbers. According to some local business owners, the increase in enrollment has greatly impacted the Statesboro economy by keeping business rolling more consistently through the summer season.

“Summer’s slow, but not as slow as you’d expect, and it seems to pick up more and more as more students begin to take summer classes” Southern Billiards and Burgers manager, Marcus Goines, said.

“We planned to base it on students, but we wanted to have something for everyone. Even though students make up 75 to 80 percent of our customers, we also pick up a lot of the older local crowd, which helps a lot,” Goines said.

The university has campaigned heavily to get more students to sign up for classes in the summer. In 2010, GSU set its record for summer enrollment with 9,950 students, almost half of traditional fall enrollment.

“We made it through the first year, which a lot of businesses don’t. It’s been a little slow this year. January through April in retail are slow no matter what, but June to December is really busy for us,” Brittany Brannen, owner of Silk and Purple Boutique in Statesboro, said.

Brannen was skeptical about opening her boutique in June of last year, since students make up 50 percent of her customer base. But because of the recent high summer enrollment, business has not taken the nosedive she expected and remained fairly constant.

“I was skeptical about starting in summer, but because of summer school and the fact that I’m the only retailer within 50 miles that carries TOMS, that’s been the kickers to get people in recently,” Brannen said.

With summer classes only becoming more popular for GSU students looking to get ahead or play credit-catch-up, local businesses can expect business to remain stable or even begin to thrive through the south Georgia heat.