Start of semester brings increase in people downtown

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | 8:38 p.m. CST; updated 8:54 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — For the past two weeks students have been flocking back to Columbia to start the second semester of the 2007-2008 school year. MU has 26,630 students enrolled for the spring semester, which is an increase of more than 2,000 from this time last year.

Stephens College will see 641 undergraduates this semester, an increase of 19 from the fall semester.

Calls made to Columbia College were not returned.

Many local businesses commented that they are always busy, but that it changes depending on the time of year.

Chris Flood, a managing partner of Campus Bar and Grill, said business is slower during school breaks.

When school is in session, businesses tend to see more students, and when they are gone for the summer and break, businesses see more Columbia locals.

Located just steps off the MU campus, Shakespeare’s Pizza has definitely seen a spike in business, said Kurt Mitsching, Shakespeare’s marketing director.

“I don’t know an exact number, but we definitely make a lot more pizzas when the students return for class,” he said.

This return not only affects the restaurants but also other local Columbia businesses.

“Our business tends to come in spurts anyway,” said Janet Marsh, an owner of Ninth Street Video. “But in the past weekend we’ve had a steady flow not only from students but also from people who work at the universities themselves.”

One indication of the population surge can be seen on the streets, as traffic thickens and parking spots become more scarce.

“It’s not a big change, but it was nice being able to park on the first and second floors of the parking garages,” Columbia resident Andrew Littlefield said.

Still, some are happy to see the seasonal residents return.

“Sure the traffic gets thicker and slower, but at the same time it’s great to have everyone back,” said David White, executive director of the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. “However, I do have my own parking space so it’s a little easier for me.”

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