An upcoming event in downtown Phoenix’s Civic Space Park seeks to bridge the gap between students and local businesses and organizations.
411 Effect, an organization of about 30 downtown students, will host a business expo, fashion show and networking mixer on April 6. Open to everyone, the event is intended to attract people to the Downtown campus, provide opportunities for students and give businesses and student organizations a chance to get their name out, said 411 Effect President Louanna Faine.
“It’s unity, collaboration and community all in one,” said Faine, who is a journalism junior.
The event is funded mostly by a $21,000 grant from ASASUD, according to Natasia Bongcas, secretary of 411 Effect and interdisciplinary studies junior. The rest will come from business sponsors, many of them highlighted at the expo, including Coca Cola, the Arizona Informant, Aramark, Local First Arizona and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, among others. It is expected to draw around 100 total sponsors.
The business expo and mixer are designed to provide students, student organizations like the Downtown Dance Team, and local businesses the chance to interact, offering resources to one and promotion to the other through tabling, Bongcas said.
Kimber Lanning, director of Local First Arizona, said ASU students need some help in navigating the local economy.
“I just think that we need to work harder to educate students about what’s going on,” Lanning said. “I think most of them are not ready yet for the big city, and so they need a little hand-holding. I’m not trying to be snarky. I think the city of Phoenix is just a hard city to connect to.”
411 Effect is aiming to get students from all four ASU campuses, community colleges, local high schools, as well as deans from the different campuses to attend, Bongcas said. Two thousand guests are expected to participate.
“Everyone goes to Tempe. Our events are going to be where Tempe comes here,” Faine said. “I’m just excited to see all the businesses come out and to see the Downtown campus grow to its full potential.”
Clothing from local designers and students will be on display at the fashion show in order to give them a venue for their work, Faine said. College students will be chosen to model at a Model Search on Feb. 27 at the Nursing and Health Innovation building on the Downtown campus.
411 Effect’s inaugural event is free, but non-perishable food items and financial contributions are being accepted to support St. Mary’s Food Bank and Haiti Relief, Bongcas said.
Nesima Aberra, a journalism freshman who is planning on attending the event to learn more about the area and find contacts, said it’s difficult for students to know what’s going on in downtown Phoenix.
“For individuals, you really have to try and look up things on your own,” Aberra said. “It’s such a big city, and so it can be hard to really find what you like and what you don’t like.”
411 Effect might help break that barrier, Aberra added.
“If (student organizations and local businesses are) all in the same area and catering to the students … that’s a great idea,” Aberra said. “They just have to have the right approach.”
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