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Columbia’s economy supported by tourism when college students leave

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Many college students have left Columbia for the summer, leaving the streets a little emptier than this time last week.

The restaurants and stores also look a little emptier, as several college students went home for the summer after last week's graduation. And while this does have an impact on Columbia's economy, experts tell me, the city has other ways to fill the gap.

"The economy is actually bolstered really well by tourism so folks taking their summer vacation going to events or conventions in the summer and then we have a number of sports tournaments as well that contribute to the economy," Megan McConachie with the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau said.

In just a few weeks, Art in the Park will return for the first time since before the pandemic. In July, Columbia hosts the Show-Me State Games followed by other sporting events and festivals like Summerfest.

"We have a lot of different types of visitors, all those folks who sleep in our hotels, dine in our restaurants', and shop in our stores," McConachie said.

McConachie said last year in June and July, hotel occupancy numbers were in the 60% range. She is hopeful this year will have similar results this year or even see an increase.

One business, Bud's Barbecue, told me they are confident their business won't take too big of a hit.

"The summer is the perfect time for barbecue, we've had plenty of catering and a number of people calling asking how we can serve them," Jason Paetzold, Owner of Bud's said.

Alpine Shop said they have noticed a shift.

"This year we lost, I think six-seven seniors that graduated mixed in with other people that left and just went home," Nolan Moriearty, assistant manager at Alpine Shop said.

But Moriearty said they were prepared, and bounced back quickly, and were able to hire quickly, as this is happens every summer.

"It's definitely a different atmosphere it's been a little slower but yeah we still have a lot of our local customers and people that live here year-round," Moriearty said.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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