Columbia was founded as a college town, centered around the University of Missouri. Homes can be found in the area’s historic residential district that borders downtown and is adjacent to the colleges. New developments both in the center and on the outskirts of the city are continually in progress to accommodate the increasing growth of recent years.
Downtown Columbia serves as the financial and business center of the city. It is surrounded on three sides by the area’s three colleges and features historic architecture and a vibrant culture. Four historic residential districts are located in the adjacent areas. New developments are being undertaken throughout the city, including extensive expansion of the university campus, as well as both commercial and residential building and the opening of a new high school. The city’s skyline is fairly low, with the tallest buildings averaging 10 or 15 floors. Built on hills and flatlands, this mid-Missouri city is surrounded by parks and nature preserves. Columbia is also known for its thriving music and arts scene, with multiple festivals throughout the year. Sports are also an important part of the area’s culture, with several fields and sports arenas to host football, basketball, baseball and volleyball games.
From the time of it founding and through the present day, Columbia’s economy has always centered on its universities, followed closely by the healthcare and insurance industries. The largest area employer is the University of Missouri. The area’s school district and healthcare centers are also major employers, as are insurance companies like Shelter Insurance and State Farm. Other significant contributors to the local economy include local tech companies. City and county governments also provide employment to many Columbia residents. Located in Columbia are also the transportation hubs of the Missouri River Port of Rocheport and the Columbia Regional Airport, which boost the area’s trade and transportation.