Study: Columbia ahead of national average for economic growth

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COLUMBIA- An MU study released Monday reported Columbia's economy is above the average national rate of economic growth. This ranks Columbia's economy above other metropolitan areas in Missouri such as St. Louis, Springfield and Kansas City. 

Columbia's economy experienced an average annual growth rate of 1.81 percent from 2001 to 2016. Springfield experienced a growth of 1.30 percent, Kansas City had a 1.18 percent growth rate and St. Louis had only a .72 percent growth rate. The average national growth rate for the country is 1.69 percent annually. 

The study also examined the top employers in Columbia to examine the combination of the public and private sectors that caused the growth. 

The head researcher, Dr. Joseph Haslag called MU, "the backbone of Columbia", with the university and MU Health being the top two employers for the city. Of the ten largest employers in Columbia, six are public or government and four are private.

One of the private companies, Veterans United Home Loans, started in Columbia from two MU college students. Matt McCormick, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, called Veterans United, "the ultimate startup."

Greg Steinhoff, vice president of Industry and Regulatory Relations at Veterans United Home Loans said he appreciates the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that MU provides, but that the private sector is just as important as the public sector. 

"Public companies and public interests provide a great community and a great place to live with a great workforce," said Steinhoff. "But it is really the strength of your private sector that can really add fuel to your local economy."