Columbia business owners talk economy at conference

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COLUMBIA - Columbia business owners discussed the economy Tuesday at the 2016 Economic Outlook Conference.

The conference was held on the Columbia College campus where business men and women heard from panels about the state of Columbia's economic outlook and how businesses impact it.

Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes said he's discouraged about the state of Columbia's economy for 2016.

"Pretty much every economic indicator is pointing toward a recession," Matthes said. "The more e-commerece that happens, we all love it, the less money for police, for fire, for parks, for roads, for the airport, for transit. It affects everything we do." 

The conference featured a panel of bio-medical experts who said their research can positively affect Columbia's economy.

Matthes said the MU Research Reactor is an example of how the economy can benefit from bio-medical research.

"It's the businesses that come here because there's a reactor, and there are many companies like that," he said. 

Dr. Hao Li spoke at the conference and owns Nanova, Inc., which manufactures and distributes dental and orthopedic products.

He said many resources in Columbia contribute to the field.

"We have engineers, we have the school of medicine, we have the school of veterinary medicine," Li said. "If you wanted to research, you would have to find the people with the expertise in these different areas, and we pretty much have it all in Columbia."