We love Columbus. That's no secret. In fact, you could say it's a bit of an obsession here at Alive - every week we write about dozens of great people, places and events, and The A-list calendar includes hundreds more things to do in this city.

We love Columbus. That's no secret. In fact, you could say it's a bit of an obsession here at Alive - every week we write about dozens of great people, places and events, and The A-list calendar includes hundreds more things to do in this city.

So when we heard about Easy Columbus, we knew it was a perfect fit for Alive, and we're excited to kick off the project with the Easy Columbus Student Guide you'll find inserted in this issue.

Easy Columbus is sort of an extension of the city's various attract-and-retain initiatives. Usually these efforts are directed at keeping young adults here - making Columbus a great place to work and play for ambitious, creative professionals in their twenties and thirties.

In this case, we've extended the attract-and-retain concept to college students.

More than 110,000 students attend 11 colleges and universities in Central Ohio. But they don't always feel connected to Columbus. Maybe, for those who are new to town, the North Market seems too far away or parking in German Village seems too intimidating. Or maybe they just don't know how much fun Gallery Hop is.

We want to make those connections easy.

EasyColumbus.com features a calendar of events, so students can get off campus and discover the area's arts and entertainment offerings.

The site includes a neighborhood guide (called "Student Zones") to help students navigate the city and find restaurants, shops, cafes and activities - even parking spots - in every corner of Columbus, along with discounts for saving money at these places.

The Going Pro section connects students to employment resources via ColumbusInternships.com and ColumbusJobs.com.

Students' voices are an essential part of the site as well. We're going to feature students' contributions, with message boards, video uploads and other networking tools coming soon. And in addition to this week's printed Student Guide, Alive will be publishing a weekly Easy Columbus column authored by students.

The project will also extend into the real world, with campus outreach efforts and off-campus events to bring together students from different schools. (Watch for the first event, Easy Columbus night at the Columbus Blue Jackets game, on Oct. 3.)

A lot of community partners have joined hands in this effort. In addition to the 11 participating schools (listed at right), the Easy Columbus partners include Compete Columbus, the Columbus Chamber, the Columbus Foundation, Experience Columbus, the city of Columbus, the Columbus Dispatch and Collegia, a Boston-based company that's worked on similar projects in other cities.

Together, we want to help college students feel like they live here, not that they're just visiting for four years. We want Columbus to be their new hometown, with hopes that they'll find a job and stick around after graduation.

We want to help connect students to this community, so that they'll grow into our next generation of ambitious, creative young professionals and Columbus residents.

To check out the new off-campus guide to the city, click to EasyColumbus.com