Once the program ramps up in its second year, downtown hotels can expect to host groups of 25 to 30 students 12 times a year, Pickett said.
The students will stay downtown from noon on Friday to noon on Sunday, he said.
Meanwhile, a separate collaboration between the city of Greenville and the Greenville Chamber continues to host a regular stream of delegations from various cities in search of the secrets of downtown revitalization.
The latest group — 19 visitors from Tupelo, Mississippi — came last week for three days, according to chamber and city officials.
The new MBA program begins this month with an expected initial headcount of 25, Pickett said.
Residents of New York, Texas, Virginia and Georgia are among the students enrolled so far, he said.
Pickett said the program, which lasts two years and three months, is the only one of its kind as far as he knows. Students are required to have five years’ work experience.
The program costs about $35,000 for South Carolina students and $43,000 for students from elsewhere, and that price includes hotel rooms and most meals in Greenville, he said.
Students in the first class will stay at the downtown Hyatt under a one-year contract, said Larry Bell, the hotel’s general manager.
“We welcome them to downtown Greenville, and we hope it’s a long and mutually beneficial relationship,” he said.
Pickett said Clemson will review the hotel arrangements each year.
Mary Douglas Hirsch, the city’s downtown manager, noted that the city’s 2008 downtown master plan called for a higher education presence along Main Street.
“The exchange of ideas that takes place at a university is exactly what we want as we grow Greenville’s knowledge-based economy,” she said.
The group from Tupelo was the 96th delegation to visit Greenville for insight into downtown revitalization since the city began tracking the visits in 2005.
More than 1,500 visitors from 16 states have come since then, according to city records.
City and chamber officials say most of the trips are organized by chambers of commerce.
Frequently, the visitors include mayors and reporters covering the trips for their home markets.
Ben Haskew, president of the Greenville Chamber, said the visitors from Tupelo included the mayor.
Among the stops on the group’s itinerary was a baseball game at Fluor Field and a tour of Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research, he said.
Delegations from Daytona Beach, Florida, and Longview, Texas, are scheduled to come next, Haskew said.