It is well known that the student body of Iowa State University makes up nearly half of our population, making Ames a true college town. It is because of our students we have great entertainment amenities, accessible public transportation, and a thriving community. These students live in Ames for the majority of the year, shopping at our local boutiques, dining at our one-of-a-kind restaurants, and investing in our community. Their economic impact is essential for Story County's success.
As we prepare for thousands of Iowa State students to return to Ames, we have an incredible opportunity to show them their impact on our community.
We all know that these are certainly unprecedented times, and the return of our students has caused quite a stir in the local community. What will happen when they return? Will they practice responsible habits, like social distancing and wearing face coverings?
Not only are we uncertain, but so are the students. They are either returning to Story County after a long, six-month break or they will be stepping into Ames for the first time. They will not know which businesses are open or offering updated services. They will not know our community’s expectations. They have not been here since March and have not grown with us as we navigate our new normal. This will be an entirely new experience for both them and us.
It's up to us to make them feel welcome, and share with them the new expectations of our community. Let us welcome them back with a celebration.
At the Ames Chamber of Commerce, we are working on a new "Welcome Home" campaign to show our students we recognize their impact and we're glad they have finally returned. One small part of this campaign includes volunteers delivering welcome home posters to all our members and businesses in Ames. Included on this poster is the Cyclones Care messaging from Iowa State University. While we want our students to feel like they have returned (or arrived for the first time) home, it is our responsibility to help them understand their behavior will impact the next several months.
Spreading the healthy habit message is only one small part of this campaign - it is also built to help bring us together as a community and make us feel as one again. Story County has been distancing since March. It's difficult to be away from loved ones for so long. We did a great job as a community uniting together to spread positive messaging and show we were in this together. It is time to bring back that energy.
This campaign hopes to bring everyone together and spread positive vigor throughout the county. Let us bring back the neighborhood bear hunts, updated as “Cy Hunts” to unite us together. Decorate your windows welcoming the students back. Post to social media encouraging the students to check out your updated hours and services. Create specials to bring them back in.
We have quite an opportunity to welcome the students back with open arms and make them feel at home.
Whatever you do to bring us together, share it on social media with the tag #StoryCountyStrong so the Ames Chamber of Commerce can reshare and amplify your message. For more ideas and resources to get involved with this campaign, visit www.AmesChamber.com.