Harding events have a big impact on Searcy’s local economy, and Homecoming is no exception. Buck Layne, president of Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Harding is a great partner in the local community, and the economy benefits from students and campus events, such as Homecoming.
“You can tell by the sales tax report each quarter when an event was held on campus, because there is a big hike in those numbers,” Layne said.
Homecoming brings several alumni and student families to Searcy and into the economy, but the preparation and events that are apart of Homecoming also requires help from local businesses. Corner Gift and Florist has provided the mums for the Homecoming court for about the last 10 years, according to owner Debbie Wheeler.
Wheeler said that her store will make up to 25 mums, one for every member of the court, as well as boutonnieres for their escorts. She said the exposure for doing the Homecoming mums has helped spread the news about her business to students.
“A lot of students will come in after Homecoming and by other arrangements or gifts from us,” Wheeler said.
The Harding mums receive fresh Chrysanthemum flowers and are delivered the day of the football game, where as mums made for other local high schools get silk flowers, according to Wheeler. Junior Cassidy Ward assists in putting the mums together. Ward has been working at Corner Florist and Gifts for nearly a year, and said this is her first florist job. Ward said that she enjoys the opportunity to work off campus and interact with the Searcy community.
“It’s always a good thing to work in the Searcy community; you get outside the Harding bubble, and you get to meet people in the community,” Ward said. “Interacting with people not my age is fun.”
Corner Gift and Florist also provides other arrangements for several Harding events like American Studies Institute speakers.