Located directly between Kansas City and Saint Louis on Interstate 70 is the college town of Columbia, Missouri. In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Columbia 11th on its list of Smartest Cities in America. In 2007, the magazine deemed Columbia the third-best Metro for Businesses and Careers of cities with a population of less than 232,000. Money magazine placed Columbia on its 2006 list of 100 Best Places to Live and, also in 2006, Kiplinger.com ranked Columbia 24th in its list of 50 Smart Places to Live.
Overall, 28 percent of Columbia's nearly 95,000 residents are between the ages of 25 and 44, due mostly to the fact that many individuals who obtain their degree at one of the universities in Columbia stay in the area to start their new careers.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, "Columbia has more exemplary public schools per capita than any city in the nation." It's no surprise then that Columbia residents tend to be more academic, with more than 50 percent of them in possession of a four-year college degree or higher, as compared to the national average of 15 percent.
Columbia Public Schools have approximately 17,000 students enrolled, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 13-to-1. On the state level, Columbia schools are rated at a score of nine out of ten, higher than 80 percent of other public schools in the state.
Twenty-six percent of Columbia's residents are attending college. Among those schools are Columbia College, Columbia Area Career Center, Stephens College, and the University of Missouri.
The University of Missouri, also known as Mizzou or MU, is one of six public universities in the country that provides colleges of medicine, veterinary medicine, law, agriculture, journalism, arts and sciences, and engineering all on one campus. The university offers more than 270 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. Additionally, the university's School of Journalism is the oldest and one of the most well-known in the nation, attracting students from all over the country to its highly competitive program.
Columbia maintains a civil labor force of more than 201,000 individuals, who often commute into the city from the surrounding suburbs. The University of Missouri is the largest employer in Columbia, with more than 8,000 on staff. The local hospitals and clinics employ more than 5,500 individuals. Other large employers in the city include:
There are several health-care facilities in Columbia, mostly due to the College of Medicine offered at the university. The following facilities are well-known for offering excellent patient care:
Columbia's mostly urban population is more than 99,000 people. The city accommodates around 35,000 houses with more than 33,000 houses occupied. The owners occupy approximately 15,000 houses and the renters occupy about 18,000 houses.
Downtown Columbia is known as The District, a vibrant, artistic community. The District offers a mix of historic architecture, sidewalk cafes and retail shops. The area is also renowned for its nightlife, with more than 70 bars and restaurants and dozens of live performances each week.
Columbia's prominent residential neighborhoods include Bedford Walk, Benton-Stephens, Douglass Park, East Campus, Old Southwest, Parkade, Shepard/Hinkson Creek/Moon Valley, Stonecrest, the Village of Cherry Hill and Woodridge.
While there are no professional sports teams in Columbia, the University of Missouri Tigers have a large number of fans, including thousands of university alumni. College football season is a big event in Columbia, especially when the Tigers have a home game at Memorial Stadium (known as "Faurot Field" to patrons), which seats more than 68,000 comfortably but often sees crowds of more than 75,000. Tailgating in the parking lot before home games is a popular custom for many residents, students, and alumni, complete with barbecues, painted faces, and music.
Mizzou basketball also sees large crowds and fan participation at the 15,000-seat Mizzou Arena, built in 2003. The arena houses all the usual amenities, as well as 26 luxury suites, a state-of-the-art training room, and the Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame.
Since Columbia is a college town, students have a strong influence on the local entertainment and culture. Students and families alike will find fun in the following attractions:
In addition to the various concerts and productions offered by Mizzou, the following events occur annually in Columbia:
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