Big Rapids fails to show me how big it actually is from time to time, and I occasionally find myself going elsewhere to occupy my free time.
The size of Big Rapids is a growing issue that directly correlates with the increase of student enrollment in Ferris State University. More and more students occupy the town of Big Rapids, but often leave on the weekend due to a lack of entertainment options for students.
Although there are certainly many things going on every week, thanks to the university, Big Rapids still lacks a market that interests students enough to stay and contribute to the local economy.
As an East Lansing native, I have experienced the vast campus of Michigan State University, the city of Lansing, and the surrounding towns that connect the entire community together.
I know it is hard to compare East Lansing to Big Rapids, but it is important to me to bring up the subject of a more cohesive community much like the East Lansing area.
In Big Rapids, there are two major roads that unite and create a continuous traffic flow. Downtown Big Rapids is historical and holds a few hidden gems that would normally be overlooked by a college student, but nothing that will draw a large group of people on a continuous basis.
There are not many towns or cities in the immediate area, forcing students to either settle for what Big Rapids offers them, or drive, in most cases, an hour to find what they are looking to acquire.
Students leaving campus or using the Internet to shop harms the local economy.
The university, its faculty, and its students contribute to the economic success of the community, but if the town really wants to prosper, it should try to connect with the ideals of students.
I do not mean cater to students every whim; we do not deserve that kind of treatment. But it would be in the towns’ best interest to figure out a way to give the students who leave weekend after weekend a better reason to stay in town.
On top of the lack of intriguing activities going on in town, the amount of traffic on campus is ludicrous and has proven to be unsafe for students crossing the road and inconvenient to local citizens.
On campus safety for walkers, and students on wheels, is a major concern as the enrollment of students increases. More students mean more drivers and more opportunities for tragedy.
The only clear resolution calls on Big Rapids to start developing plans based off of common necessities not only for students, but also for the residents of the town.
Every town that is growing in size could use a few places to shop for clothing other than places like Sears, Maurices, or Wal-Mart. Places many students would never let themselves buy a wardrobe from.
This town could also use a few more restaurants. Chain restaurants like Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesday’s get old after a while. Local restaurants in Big Rapids offer great menus at reasonable prices. But there are few of them.
I welcome local businesses and I hope Big Rapids will too. Local businesses and building projects would bring more jobs to Big Rapids and in a time of dismal unemployment there are plenty of people willing to work.
As a student, my best plan of action is to bring up this issue every chance I can and try to find people who agree Big Rapids is in need of a few additions.
If students stay and contribute to what Big Rapids has now, then there may be more coming to this town in the future. n