Kat Kash program a hit with students and local businesses

SARANAC LAKE Everyone likes a win-win situation. The students at Paul Smiths College and a number of local businesses are about to benefit even more from a pilot program that recently wrapped up its first year. Kat Kash, introduced in September 2007, allowed students residing at the village dorm on Church Street to use a pre-paid card at six locations in Saranac Lake Blue Moon Caf_Eat-n-Meet, Lakeview Deli, Little Italy, Grand Union, and Greens & Beans. The program is being expanded for the 2008-09 school year to include all 950 students at the college, and additional vendors are lined up to join the program in August. According to Sylvie Nelson, Executive Director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the program accounted for more than $85,000 in local revenue and is expected to generate nearly $1 million in the upcoming year. Lyn Shatraw, Director of Student Accounts, called the program a complete success. It worked out perfectly, she said. The vendors all loved it and the students all loved it. The vendors asked when we would expand it, so were expanding it now. The pilot program gave students a pre-paid debit card with $1,000, which could be swiped at any of the six initial locations. The new, expanded program will serve as a supplement to the traditional meal-plan. It is a separate cards, added Shatraw. And the money would be separate as well. Its a tool for parents to give their children money to spend off-campus as an alternative. Shatraw noted that any student will be able to purchase a card for a minimum of $50. A number of local business are slated to join the existing six in August. A few have yet to sign contracts, but definite additions include Noris, Saranac Lanes, Jreck Subs and Borealis Color. Other businesses have demonstrated interest in participating in the Kat Kash program so the list of providers is more likely to be expanded before the students return to school, said Nelson.

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