Report: Columbia fastest-growing Missouri metro

(Missourinet) A recently-released report from two University of Missouri researchers says Columbia’s economy is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Missouri since 2001.

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick notes the report says the Columbia metro area’s growth rate has been more than double the rate reported statewide.

“Then you also have things like American Outdoor Brands, they’re in the process of getting opening and hiring,” McCormick says. “And (Colorado-based) Aurora Organic Dairy is doing their project, and you got Beyond Meat that’s doing an expansion.”

Massachusetts-based American Outdoor Brands manufactures firearms and outdoor sports and recreation products. They are set to open a massive 630,000 square foot distribution center, which is expected to create about 150 jobs.

A spokeswoman for Beyond Meat tells Missourinet they’re expanding in Columbia and are adding jobs. They now have multiple sites in Columbia, including a location near Lemone Industrial Drive. The company is now global. Beyond Meat’s website says the company’s mission is to create delicious plant-based burgers, sausage, crumbles and strips, made directly from plants.

The report is written by Mizzou researchers Joseph Haslag and John Holtmann Jr. It describes Columbia as the “brightest spot in the Missouri economy.”

The report says the Columbia metro area has seen the highest average annual growth rate among the state’s four largest metropolitan areas, since 2001. McCormick says Columbia has seen big projects like the new Drury Plaza Hotel near I-70 and Highway 63.

“You’re seeing some great things, I mean this hotel is beautiful and they just finished it up and it just opened. You can still smell the new carpet, right,” says McCormick.

The report notes Veterans United Home Loans has seen a 79-percent increase in employment between 2013 and 2017, and that Columbia Public Schools (CPS) has seen a 17-percent employment increase. Haslag and Holtmann also found that Veterans United hired one of every five new employees in the Columbia metro between 2006 and 2017.

The Columbia area is the only one of Missouri’s four largest metropolitan areas in which the economic growth rate has exceeded the average annual growth rate in the nation, according to the report.

McCormick praises the report, adding that education, insurance and health care are still their three economic drivers.

“What’s great about Columbia is it has such a diverse business base and you’re seeing it even diversify more with some of the new manufacturers come in, which is always very helpful,” McCormick says.

Columbia is home to the University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College. State Farm and Shelter Insurance are two of the top ten employers in town, as is Veterans United Home Loans.

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