From Missouri Development Guide 2021

The $4 Billion Machine That Never Sleeps

How the University of Missouri in Columbia propels the entire state to new heights.

University of Missouri – Columbia
Photo courtesy University of Missouri - Columbia

University of Missouri in Columbia, or Mizzou as it is known by the locals, is the flagship university of the state. With an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion on the state, Mizzou employs more than 46,800 people directly or indirectly because of the Columbia campus.

In a recent interview with Stephanie Fleming, Assistant Director of the MU News Bureau in Columbia, we learned a great deal about the many ways Mizzou impacts economic development statewide.

Some of the more interesting facts Fleming shared include the following: 

  • More than $117 million in state and local revenue taxes are collected because of Mizzou. These include taxes on sales, food, gas, lodging, etc.
  • Given that annual appropriations from the state for Mizzou are approximately $400 million, this means that taxpayers are receiving a return on their investment of 13.5 to 1.
  • A vast number of Mizzou graduates stay in Missouri and put their education to the test in the Missouri workforce while faculty across four campuses are conducting research that addresses challenges facing the state and nation. This significant combination of workforce development and innovative discoveries in Mizzou labs impacts thousands of Missourians every day.

Mizzou also supports innovation and entrepreneurship in a variety of ways. Mizzou has multiple programs that drive entrepreneurs. Among them, says Fleming, are these:

  • Unions Entrepreneurial Program: Gives Mizzou students the opportunity to operate their own businesses inside the MU Student Center. Selected businesses receive a space on main floor of Student Center rent-free and utility-free for one year; they also receive $2,000 from U.S. Bank to help them get started.
  • Allen Angel Capital Education Program: Student group of Mid-Missouri investors. Students invest in high-growth startup companies by performing pre-screening duties, completing due diligence and monitor the progress of the business.
  • Entrepreneurship Bootcamp: One-day, free seminar on the creating a presentation, developing a business concept, entering the market, intellectual property and identifying funding opportunities.
  • Workshops: Nominal costs ($25) for a workshop that gives students an overview of the critical first steps associated with starting a business.
  • Life Science Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program: Graduate certificate that combines students in Business, Engineering and Medicine. The students develop a concept needed in the field of life sciences and create a business plan.
  • Music Entrepreneurship: Graduate certificate program that educates students on the development, business and publicity aspects of a musical career.

Mizzou is also known for its academic programs that are highly ranked nationally. Among online programs, MU’s bachelor degree programs climbed 85 spots to No. 14 out of 337 institutions. Mizzou’s online Master of Education programs ranked higher than any other institution in Missouri for the fourth consecutive year, climbing 45 spots since last year’s rankings to No. 15 in 2021.

MU was also recognized in a category called “Best for Veterans.” MU’s online graduate education programs ranked No. 5, and its online bachelor programs ranked No. 9 for veterans. 

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


Missouri's strengths are only getting stronger as the state builds momentum, reduces red tape, encourages entrepreneurs and builds a better workforce — all for the benefit of business in the Show Me State.

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