[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — When taxpayers were asked to pay $220 million to build a downtown college campus, Phoenix and ASU officials dangled an enticing carrot. The Arizona State University campus would bring thousands of students to struggling downtown shops, they said. Voters OK’d the bond money, and the students came. But the enrollment numbers – about 6,200 in 2006, 6,600 in 2007, and 8,400 in 2008 – don’t tell the full story. An Arizona Republic review of ASU documents shows that each year, roughly half of those students didn’t take any classes downtown. This year, for instance, fewer than 5,000 attend classes downtown. The rest attend classes at other ASU campuses or elsewhere. ASU says that it is not trying to mislead. The formula it uses to determine enrollment is meant to give an accurate university-wide headcount to meet state funding rules. But the discrepancy between the downtown enrollment figure and the actual number of students taking at least one class in Phoenix has left some business owners disappointed.
If students aren’t regularly spending time on campus, it’s less likely they will eat, shop and play in the neighborhood, they say. “Certainly the push from ASU and the city has been that the campus will activate downtown and help businesses,” said Steve Weiss, a downtown activist and business owner. The on-campus number “definitely has an impact on how small businesses should direct their energy and promotion to students.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]