Will Loop U Be the Next Facebook?

Web-based initiative hopes to connect students with businesses

Most of its current users may not realize this, but Facebook was originally a social networking website dedicated solely to Harvard University students. It wasn't until later that it expanded to include any university student, then high school students, and now anyone over 13.

Local students can now network with each other via a new website that launched Thursday, Loop U Chicago.

Chicago's downtown is more than just business executives and tourists. As many as 60,000 students are located in the Loop neighborhood, and the new site allows them to create profiles and network with other students. Loop U Chicago also presents coupons and exclusive discounts, scholarship opportunities, job and internship openings, and local event listings.

"The reality of the college experience in the Loop is that it's a little isolated," Ty Tabing, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance, told Crain's Chicago Business. "We're hoping we can create a little more of a shared experience."

Loop U Chicago, dubbed "Loop U," will also connect students with shops, restaurants, and theatres in the area. Forty businesses, from Macy's Inc. to the Goodman Theatre, are taking part in the Web-based initiative.

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, has a significant online presence... but not on Facebook.

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