With the new school year drawing closer, Williams Baptist University is working to connect its students with local businesses. WBU is giving businesses in the community two opportunities, First Fair and Williams BLUE discounts, to introduce themselves to Williams students and attract them to their places of business.

“We will have approximately 500 students at WBU this fall, and about three-fourths of them live on campus,” said Brett Cooper, vice president for creative services & technology. “When they frequent businesses in our community they adapt much more quickly to their university hometown, which enhances their WBU experience, and it’s also great for the businesses. That’s a win-win for everyone.”

At First Fair, businesses and other organizations set up displays and introduce themselves to WBU students. This year’s First Fair will be held the evening of Monday, August 28, at 5 pm on the lawn in front of Manley Chapel. The event is free for vendors, and Williams will provide an 8-foot table and two chairs at all booths. Those interested should sign up by August 11 at williamsbu.edu/firstfair/

WBU also gives local businesses a chance to offer discounts and incentives that will attract students. Williams BLUE discounts are open to merchants in the Walnut Ridge and Pocahontas areas, and over 60 businesses currently take part. BLUE is an acronym for Businesses Linking Up Eagles.

“The whole idea is to entice students to stop by these businesses,” Cooper said. “Students learn to look for that Williams BLUE sticker on the door or by the cash register, and we also keep a full list of participating businesses on the WBU website.”

Businesses that wish to take part in Williams BLUE can do so at any time at the same link as First Fair, williamsbu.edu/firstfair/.

WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge