August 04, 2016 8:45AM
With just weeks until Pittsburg State students return to campus, Steve Scott is getting excited.
“The only thing better than having the students back on campus is the anticipation and excitement we feel when we’re getting close,” said Scott, president of Pitt State. “You can start to feel the community and campus coming to life.”
Also excited for the start of a new semester is another Steve Scott.
“There is a new energy to the community when students return,” said Scott, who is the owner of local retail store Gorilla Country. “Pitt State is such a vital part of our city, and we always look forward to having students back from summer break.”
As students begin to make their way back from their hometowns, beaches and mountains, everyone from community leaders to business owners is looking forward to the start of the fall semester, which begins Aug. 22.
“I am always excited to see the students return, as it means football, fall and cooler weather,” said Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall. “It is important to remember that Pittsburg is a young community. Our average age is much younger than most communities, and the students are a reminder of how bright Pittsburg’s future is.”
Hall said the city is hoping to work closely with students in the coming year.
“We plan on beginning a new initiatives this year with PSU to allow the students to work directly with the community and the high schools in planning our future,” he said. “This town wouldn’t be the special place it is without the students.”
Christie Rhuems-Kotzman, owner of Merle Norman and Salon Josephine in downtown Pittsburg, said mid-August is one of her favorite times of year.
“You can’t overstate the importance of Pitt State in our community,” she said. “Yes, having students back in town helps my business and businesses throughout the city. But it’s more than that. Pittsburg never really feels complete unless the students are here. So when they return from break, you really feel like the family is all back together.”
It’s estimated that each student brings more than $10,000 to the local economy each year. But John Minton, vice-president of Jock’s Nitch, said that the value of having students back in town goes far beyond the economic impact.
“Do we sell more shirts when students are here? Of course, and that’s nice,” Minton said. “But the best part about it isn’t just that we sell more shirts. It’s that we only sell more shirts because the students and everyone else in this community feels so much pride for Pitt State. If people didn’t love the university as much as they do, we wouldn’t sell shirts.
“That’s why having the students back in town is so exciting,” he said. “They bring excitement and energy, but they are also a tremendous source of pride and love throughout the city. It’s a unique thing that not a lot of communities get to have.”