Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Oberlin Business Partnership, Bonner Scholar Launch Survey to Improve Connection Between Students, Local Businesses

Abe Frato
The survey asks students about their favorite local businesses and experiences.

Oberlin Business Partnership is conducting a survey in collaboration with College second-year and Bonner Scholar Amanda Cabrera Benitez in order to gather feedback from campus community members about their opinions on small businesses in the City of Oberlin. The survey, which runs through May 5, asks participants about their favorite places to shop and their experiences at small businesses in downtown Oberlin. Individuals who participate in the survey have the opportunity to win a $25 coupon that can be used at any business that is a member of the OBP. Cabrera Benitez said that she was inspired to create this project as a way to support both students and business owners. 

“Sometimes businesses are doing a great job and they need to hear it,” she said. “They need to know that they are doing a good job, [that] they’re offering a good service or product. It’s always nice to say something nice about these businesses. So, if we have this survey where people are putting their opinion and heart into it, it’s nice to have strong words to share.” 

Cabrera Benitez worked closely with Sharon Pearson, interim executive director of Oberlin Business Partnership, and will continue to work with her to analyze the results of the survey. 

“Amanda’s main interest was [bridging] students with the downtown Oberlin community,” Pearson said. “It can be probably scary for first-year students to be on their own for the first time, and then all of a sudden have to go into this town that they don’t know and go shopping.”

Cabrera Benitez said that she looks forward to reading the responses shared by students who grew up in Oberlin, as well as seeing the many different perspectives that Oberlin students have. She said that while she has not looked too closely at the responses to the survey, the responses have been positive and informative. 

“We’ve had great reviews about a lot of the downtown area businesses, restaurants, and stuff like that,” she said. “So far everything looks so positive, respectful, and kind. And I think that’s a really great sign about Oberlin students as well.”

Cabrera Benitez said that she is not entering the phase of looking at responses with any specific expectations. 

“I’m an international student,” she said. “I haven’t lived here [before]. Sharon has lived here almost her whole life, so I’m excited to discuss with her and see what she is surprised to see or talk about new businesses that are here and see how College students are seeing them.” 

She added that this project has helped her to connect with the larger Oberlin community. 

“I am pretty new to Oberlin in general, but I think getting the opportunity to meet more people downtown really helps me create this sense of community,” Cabrera Benitez said. “I don’t get to only meet people inside the Oberlin bubble, but outside the Oberlin College bubble, … like regular people that have families, that are raising their kids here.” 

Pearson said that while Oberlin students generally have a positive relationship with the businesses downtown, she believes that things can always be improved. 

“There’s the community that shops, and then there’s the College students that shop, and then there’s the people who come into town for events that shop,” Pearson said. “Every group is different, every group is dynamic. I think it’s important for the students to see these businesses as people that are here, that have families that are supporting it. And I think that’s part of the survey, too, is to recognize that any little disrespect that happens with the businesses really affects the person who’s the owner of the business.” 

Pearson also emphasized that OBP wants students to think of the businesses downtown as safe, welcoming spaces, and hopes that the responses from students to the survey will help communicate that. 

“Amanda wanted to let some of these students know it’s a safe place,” Pearson said. “By hearing the voice of other students, that maybe would encourage others who stay in the bubble on [the] College campus to really go out and explore because the businesses are open, they are friendly, they do want to meet people, and that there are some great experiences out there to be had when you get beyond a campus.”

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