PITTSBURG — Master of Business Administration students at Pittsburg State University are benefitting their education and the community with a study of parking downtown.

PSU Professor of Marketing Eric Harris said while not a full-fledged parking study, the two-part project will provide the City of Pittsburg with input from its downtown business owners.

During the spring semester, undergraduate marketing students conducted an online survey of downtown business owners about concerns they had with parking downtown. In June and July, MBA students began following up on the survey by interview business owners and examining parking.

“It’s been a great opportunity for the students to put their research skills into the real world in a way that’s meaningful to the community,” Harris said. “And it allows us to provide the city with an assessment of what concerns business owners currently have.”

Assistant City Manager Jay Byers said the feedback is useful as the city looks at growing the downtown area.

“We’re getting information from owners about concerns from not only them, but their customers and employees,” he said. “We want to address those concerns along with when their busy times are as we look at growing.”

Byers said downtown currently has an adequate amount of parking with lots and parking along Broadway. The study is helping the city work on updating signage and manage the current parking in the best way.

He said being able to use students from PSU was a bonus.

“It is great to use the students,” Byers said. “They can take an objective look, and the business owners have been straightforward with them about concerns.”

Harris said the project will include a third piece, beginning in August with the fall semester.

“In the fall we’ll be doing another survey of PSU students,” Harris said. “We’ll be getting their opinion of parking downtown, as well as their view on the Block 22 project.”

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.