FROM READERS: Business owner celebrates Columbia's economic climate

Saturday, February 16, 2013 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:21 a.m. CST, Monday, February 18, 2013
Craig Hornbuckle recently opened a new Two Men and a Truck moving franchise in Columbia.

Craig Hornbuckle is the owner of the new Columbia franchise of Two Men and a Truck and was formerly Operations Manager at the Springfield and Oklahoma City franchise locations. Before that, Hornbuckle owned his own lawn care service in Springfield, which is his hometown.

Amidst all talk of the "fiscal cliff" and a possible double-dip recession, I recently opened a new TWO MEN AND A TRUCK moving franchise in Columbia. While this was neither my first experience working for TMAT, nor in owning my own business, some thought it was an incredibly risky time to open a small business that was dependent on the local economy. 

However, there were several reasons why I felt this was a perfect time to open in Columbia. And while I certainly hope to find personal success here, I’m proud to be part of a community that itself has been so successful in the last decade. 

Here are a few specific reasons why I chose to open my franchise in Columbia:

Rapid population growth – According to the 2000 census, Columbia had 84,531 residents. By 2011, our city population had grown to 110,438 – 30.6% growth compared to 10.7% national growth. That is a huge influx of people, all needing local services, shopping at area stores, and using community utilities.

Low unemployment rate – In 2011, Columbia’s unemployment rate was 6.1%, far less than the national rate of 9.0%. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that 92.8% of our community are high school grads and 52.2% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to a national average of 85.4% and 28.2%, respectively.  

Strong housing market – Columbia has a comparatively low cost of living, coupled with relatively high property values, giving residents a great bang for their buck. The community’s cost of living index is 91.2 (nationwide average is 100); while the median value of an owner-occupied home is $167,300, and our median household income is $43,102. Both figures are strong in comparison to much of the country.

These may be commonly known statistics if you’ve lived around here all your life, but I was surprised to see such strong, post-recession numbers in the face of the "fiscal cliff" that was gripping the country. I’d like to thank the Columbia community for embracing me, and TWO MEN AND A TRUCK.  I can’t emphasize enough how excited we are to be contributors to Columbia’s strong, local economy. 

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor Joy Mayer.

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