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EDITORIAL: Making Powell a college town

At a time when empty storefronts dot each block of Bent Street, Friday night brought a welcome sight in downtown Powell: Hundreds of people socializing, eating, dancing and enjoying our small town.

A new event called Paint the Town Red brought Northwest College students and community members to Bent Street for a concert, food trucks and other activities.

The simple purpose of Paint the Town Red was to make Powell feel more like a “college town.” As dozens filled downtown, surrounded by business windows painted with artwork by NWC students and employees, it certainly felt that way.

We’re glad to see a successful premier event, and hope Powell and NWC can build on this momentum going forward.

Powell wouldn’t be the community it is without Northwest College.

As an employer, the college is the fifth largest in Park County with around 300 faculty and staff members. Its payroll is $18 million, and of course, those employees live here and raise families here.

The college spends an estimated $6.5 million in goods and services in Park County, and much more is spent locally by the students, employees and visitors who come to Powell because of NWC.

But Northwest brings much more to Powell than dollars. While its economic impact is significant, the college’s contributions to our community’s culture and enjoyment are just as important.

Because of NWC, Powell residents regularly enjoy wonderful concerts, athletic events, art shows, photography exhibits, visits from authors and an array of multicultural programs. Folks also can sign up to take a class at NWC or learn a new skill through the NWC Center for Training and Development. Powell Valley Community Education courses also are under the umbrella of NWC.

Community members regularly use NWC facilities, whether it’s hosting an event there or working out at the gym.

In many ways, the Powell community and Northwest College depend on one another — and have for the past 70 years. A new effort called Connect to Community (C2C) recognizes that. The program arose from Powell Economic Partnership discussions earlier this year and led to the Paint the Town Red events over the weekend.

We know that Powell businesses proudly support Northwest College, and hope students will choose to shop locally and eat at restaurants here. And we hope locals support students by attending college events and reaching out to them.

For Powell to thrive and local businesses to succeed, NWC plays a key part. It’s in our community’s best interest to truly be a college town.

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