the median strip on Harlem Ave. in the Palos Heights business district?
The city removed it in the early 1990s at the recommendation of a Trinity
Christian College student consulting team. Once again, the city has called
upon the College to help improve the city's commercial environment.
On Wednesday evening, January
22, two business consulting teams reviewed the results of a survey conducted
for the Palos Heights business community to assess the needs and wants
of its constituents. The teams presented their findings to members of the
Palos Heights Chamber of Commerce and the city's business and economic
development committee in the Ozinga Chapel.
"We want to make ourselves
available to the city," said John Kooyenga, department chairman. "All they
have to do is tell us what they need."
Each of the groups, composed
of senior business majors, focused on a different segment. Project manager
Kara Bruxvoort (Highland, Indiana) led the efforts of Jesse Ryan (Palos
Hills, Illinois), Tim Bakker (Highland, Indiana), and Jennifer Beenes (Oak
Lawn, Illinois) as they targeted the residents and customers. Matt Nichols
(Grand Rapids, Michigan) served as project manager while teaming with Greg
Diamond (Lemont, Illinois), Phil Ludens (Oostburg, Wisconsin), and Brett
Ritzema (Fulton, Illinois) to focus on business owners. Together, they
sent out nearly 2500 surveys and received more than 900 responses.
The surveys polled respondents
on issues such as parking, customer service, aesthetic appeal, and community
relationships. The results indicated varying perspectives held by residents
and merchants. For example, most consumers said parking was a major deterrent
to shopping in the city, but many of the owners who responded did not hold
"It's good that these students
take the time to do this research and share this information with us,"
said Ald. Jean Gnap, a 32-year Palos Heights resident who serves on the
chamber and the economic development committee. "This is very beneficial
for the city and will help us make better decisions."
also submitted suggestions for different businesses that Palos Heights
should bring into the area, such as a drug store, restaurant, bookstore,
or department store. Both the chamber and the committee gained a better
understanding of the views of the city's residents and business owners.
"We're all in this together,"
said Tom Barcelona, chairman of the business and economic development committee.
"There's a lot of work that needs to be done, and we look forward to working
with the chamber and the College to address these concerns. This is a great
opportunity for us."
At the end of the evening,
Palos Heights Mayor Bob Straz presented a plaque to Kooyenga and the College
in appreciation of the teams' cooperation and efforts. City Manager Bruce
Trego and Rick VanDyken, president of the chamber, also attended the presentation.
Area businesses or organizations
who are interested in having a student consulting group provide research
or develop a business plan may contact the College to explore future opportunities.