Dozens of Statesboro businesses came to the Georgia Southern University campus Tuesday of last week to introduce themselves to students.
The university's Office of Student Activities hosts a Boro Browse twice each year, in the fall and spring. Ordinarily, exhibitors set up tables and festival tents outside, in the area around the Rotunda near the Russell Union Student Center. Last week, organizers moved the fall 2017 event indoors because of a forecast rain probability.
But 96 exhibitors, including nonprofit organizations and government agencies as well as businesses, still turned out. Their tables filled the Russell Union Ballroom and an adjoining section of the student center's lobby.
"Sometimes we do see a smaller crowd when we have to move the event indoors, but this is an excellent crowd, for having it indoors," said Assistant Director of Student Activities Memory Littles.
More than 360 students filed through to meet representatives of the businesses and other organizations and accept free samples, coupons, brochures and other promotional items. The number 360 came from an attempt to scan student ID's, but that didn't capture students who walked through the lobby area without going into ballroom, Littles said.
Boro Browse is also open to Georgia Southern employees.
"Each year the objective of this event is to give our faculty and staff and new and returning students an opportunity to find out what's available for them in the Statesboro and campus community," Littles said.
Some students come to college without a car, she notes, so they find browsing the community for dining and shopping opportunities difficult unless the businesses come to them.
Boro Browse "also gives the Statesboro businesses an opportunity to get their name out, let the students know that they're here, faculty and staff members as well, so that they can patronize those businesses in the community," Littles said.
The event doubles as the EAGLEXPRESS Showcase for those businesses and campus organizations that participate in the stored-value plan for students.
Boro Browse lasted from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Some students made lunch - or perhaps a pre-lunch snack - of free samples, such as pizza from Mellow Mushroom. Restaurants beyond the typical freshman orbit of Veterans Memorial Parkway, such as Fordham's Farmhouse and the Boiling Shrimp, use the event to get their names to students and let them know their locations. The Boiling Shrimp gave away swag bags with its menu and brand-emblazoned items such as drink cozies.
Exhibitors are prohibited from charging for anything or asking students to sign contracts during the Boro Browse, but free items are encouraged.
Several banks and a credit union also participated and always do.
The swag from CORE Credit Union included a collapsible water bottle with a lanyard. Students are often members of credit unions in their hometowns, so the financial cooperative reaches out to let students know they can access their home credit union through CORE, said Julie Morrison, executive assistant and marketing assistant with the credit union.
"We do the spring one and the fall one, and then we're always out at the benefits fair for the (Georgia Southern) employees as well, and that's in October," she said.
The Benefits and Wellness Fair is hosted by Georgia Southern's Department of Human Resources.
Jobs and volunteering
At Boro Browse, some organizations also reached out to students as potential employees. The city of Statesboro was represented by its human resources director, two police sergeants and the new Keep Statesboro-Bulloch Beautiful environmental program coordinator.
Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County, the family violence shelter Safe Haven, the Teal House Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center, the American Cancer Society and WorkSource Georgia were just some of the nonprofit organizations and agencies with tables. Medical practices and other healthcare organizations also made a showing, and several local churches regularly participate in Browse the Boro.
Not all businesses or all products are welcome on campus, however. A rule prohibits alcohol and tobacco products and drug-related items or anything that would promote them.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.