According to the University of Missouri’s Vice Provost for Economic Development Steve Wyatt, what’s beneficial to the city of Columbia can also be beneficial to the University of Missouri. In this case, festivals and high school competitions that take place in the city.
“We both rise together and we both win together,” said Wyatt.
Wyatt considers state competitions and festivals that bring high school students from across the Midwest to MU as an admissions boon for parents and students considering higher education.
“It’s like everything: if you have a positive impression, you’re going to continue in that direction,” he said. “If they’re not coming here and having those, then they’re probably having those somewhere else and we’d rather for them to have those life-changing experiences here.”
More people in Columbia means more dollars in the budget by way of shopping or eating out. With city sales tax at an all-time low, those dollars are especially crucial to fund fire and police.
“It’s very beneficial to the city having busloads of young people coming, parents coming, all of those things that end up expending those resources,” Wyatt said.
This weekend, the Missouri State High School Activities Association board will meet to discuss the future home of the state music festival. It’s been held at the University of Missouri for decades, but MSHSAA decided recently to bid it out to any city or town in Missouri that would like to host.
Wyatt said with activities like the state music festival being bid out, the community needs to come together to make sure they aren’t losing events that bring dollars and students to Columbia.
“Everybody wins,” he said.