Students Impact Rogers Businesses With Problem-Solving & New Ideas Through RHS and Chamber Partnership

Published Monday, August 26, 2019

Six Senior students from Rogers High School (RHS) are partnering with the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce to explore ways to raise awareness of locally-owned businesses and enhance economic development in downtown Rogers. Through a Senior Project initiative that pairs up students and businesses, the student team is identifying ways to help promote and position Downtown Rogers as a vibrant shopping and dining destination location that is attractive to new businesses and new patrons.

Students will wrap up the 2nd phase of the project on Thursday, September 26, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. in a meet and greet with area business owners, residents and local media at the Rogers Experimental House, located at 121 W. Walnut St. in Rogers. Students are currently spending three days meeting with local business owners and exploring the commercial historic district as they gather information and compile their lists of pros and cons as they conduct their research and formulate a report to be presented to faculty, business owners and other students in October.

Lisa Cassidy, RHS Art & Graphic Design teacher, reached out to Karen Wagaman, VP of Downtown Development at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, to get help assigning students to
a meaningful economic development project. Cassidy was impressed. “This Senior Project provides a unique opportunity to connect students and business owners who are invested in improving Downtown Rogers. It’s the perfect real-world learning experience and initiative for our students to develop their problem-solving skills while making an impact on the community with their ideas,” said Cassidy.

The Senior Project initiative is an annual program organized by the RHS Advisory Committee.
Select seniors are put on teams of five or six students that partner with businesses in the community
to problem-solve on real-world projects and assist companies and organizations with new ideas. It is organized by the RHS Advisory Committee, which consists of 5 faculty members: Jessica Lorimer, Tom Woodruff, Tony Roller, Lisa Cassidy, Jeff Ayers, and Lisa Lames. Selected seniors participate in a full day of training to gain skills to discover solutions using communication, math, science, technology and presentation techniques. Students participating on the Downtown Rogers Economic Development Initiative Team include: Andrea Abarca, Carter Broeling, Ethan Bunsh, Halley Davidson, Baylee Hartman and Alan Romero.

The first phase of the program includes meetings with student teams’ respective business representatives. That is followed by a full day of training with faculty to gain the necessary skills to discover solutions using communication, math, science, technology and presentation techniques.

The second phase includes three days conducting research in the field, gathering data, evaluating alternatives and finding possible solutions.

The third and final phase includes the formal presentation of ideas generated and proposed solutions.


Participants in the Senior Project learned the mission of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the vision for downtown Rogers economic development. The students reviewed a variety of options and formulated a list of recommendations to include: cosmetic enhancements; including painting buildings that have fallen into disrepair; activating empty store fronts by attracting new businesses that appeal to a younger audience such as clothing stores or an ice cream shop. Additionally, businesses could offer later hours to accommodate students and people who work office hours. The community could also benefit from more lighting to make the streets more inviting and walkable after dark. The team of students hope to inspire property owners to make improvements to make the streetscape more vibrant, thereby attracting more business patrons and raise awareness of downtown Rogers as a destination where people want to work, live and enjoy the quality of life in NW Arkansas. 

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