Small Businesses Get Creative in Columbia
One place sells tea pots; another offers hookahs and flavored tobacco; and one hosts art galleries amidst hair dryers. But, all share one thing: Their owners are part of Columbia's creative class.
Former MU art student Kellye King was living in Chicago as an art curator when she decided to move back to Columbia to open a tea shop. It's called creative economics.
"What you'd like to find is things that no one's doing and there is a market for," said Missouri Small Business Development's Max Summers.
It's creative people coming up with creative business plans in a town that allows for that creativity.
"You see a lot of new businesses where people are putting their money where the creative people are," said Dr. Joe Johnston of the MU Career Center.
Creative innovation in Columbia isn't just about tea pots and art. It's about technology too.
"They may be starting around technology that they've developed and they think there is a market for," Summers said.
Inventors seem to have a strong market. For more than 30 years, there have been as many as 6,000 in Columbia alone. In the past year, Missouri increased federal grant money for innovation research, by three times the national average. Owners say creative economics is a lot of fun, but whether it makes any money is still in question.
"I'm hoping it does well," said King. "All the data demonstrates that innovation drives the economy."
Small businesses create three out of four new jobs and employ more than half of the country's private workforce. In Columbia, small businesses make up around 80 percent of all the Chamber of Commerce members. Next week marks the beginning of Columbia's Chamber of Commerce Small Business Week.