Downtown businesses learn to adapt after enrollment roller coaster

4 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago Thursday, August 22 2019 Aug 22, 2019 Thursday, August 22, 2019 1:41:00 PM CDT August 22, 2019 in News
By: Spencer Humphrey, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - After 10 years of MU enrollment hitting historic highs to major drops, downtown businesses have learned to adapt.

In 2008, MU's total fall enrollment on campus was 30,200. It peaked at 35,448 in 2015 before dropping to 29,866 by 2018.

But nearby businesses are still going strong. B&B Bagels just opened a new location downtown three weeks ago.

"It's just so cool to be downtown," general manger Brock Bondurant said.

B&B only decided in May to open the location on Elm Street. Bondurant said that meant a lot of work in order to be open in time for the fall semester.

"That was the big push--to get here before the students came back and get settled in," he said.

The opening comes a year after MU's lowest enrollment in 10 years.

Bob Hohenstein, executive director of the Downtown Community Improvement District, said there's a reason business didn't dip when enrollment did.

"There are more students living downtown than there were 10 years ago," Hohenstein said. "Far more students."

Even as enrollment dropped, downtown foot traffic increased thanks to the new residents.

Aside from the increase in downtown housing, Hohenstein said businesses are prepared for the unpredictable.

"They're going to be prepared from a staffing standpoint," Hohenstein said. "I'm sure they're looking at their process and procedures."

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