PARKVILLE, Mo. — A new campaign, “Hometown U,” is trying to bring the city of Parkville and Park University closer together, helping the community brand itself as a college town.

“Parkville was its own identity event before Kansas City grew up and in the last few years, Parkville has mushroomed so there are a lot of new residents that don’t have that relationship with Park University,” said Park University Chief Strategic Communications Officer Erik Bergrud.

The idea came after Mayor Dean Katerndahl took office a few months ago and wanted to link the city closer with the University and its students.

“Some [Park University students] live in housing and apartments farther north but we don’t see them as much as we’d like in the downtown,” Katerndahl said.

The ‘Hometown U’ brand will pop up on signs and clothing while being present during joint events both on Main Street and on campus.

“We want everybody in Parkville to feel like this is my University even if I didn’t go here or members of my family went there,” Bergrud said.

It comes at a time when Platte County is rapidly expanding and the city of Parkville is expecting its population to also grow.

Historically the population has tended to be older so Katerndahl said connecting with the community’s younger population, and giving them a reason to stay after graduation, can help the whole city.

Kristin Helling’s Parkville Coffee is one of the few places where students already hang out, but even that is a relatively recent development.

“We hadn’t really seen a lot of students that’s changed in the last several years,” Helling said, who also went to Park University.

After businesses nearby have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars into renovations and expansions, Helling says more students on Main Street can help that investment pay off.

“It’s super important to the success of all the businesses down here,” Helling said.

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