The website Livability.com named Columbia one of Americaâ??s top college towns in the fourth installment of an annual listing of the best college towns in America.
The best college towns are considered ones that not only appeal to students but also to residents and businesses looking for strong economies and opportunities for growth.
When choosing, editors narrowed their search to cities with a high standard of life based on several factors including cost of living and walkability to cultural amenities and pollution levels.
They focused on cities where a university is the top employer and key economic driver and also looked at student to resident ratios, educational attainment, college-led community outreach programs and the percentage of 21 to 34-year-olds to show that people stick around or move in after graduation.
The rapid growth of Columbia is due largely to the rapid growth of the University of Missouri, affectionately known as Mizzou. Between 2000 and 2010 the school's enrollment increased by more than 30% and the city's population grew by nearly the same percentage .
But according to residents and students, the record growth hasnâ??t diminished Columbiaâ??s artsy vibe. Columbia residents say they find themselves equally placed between rivers and research labs, museums and sport venues, restaurants and libraries.
"For a small to mid-sized town, having a great college or university can add immeasurably to the livability," said editor Matt Carmichael. "Schools provide a level of economic stability, a constant influx of new residents and cultural and sporting events at cities couldn't produce on their own."
Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Amy Schneider said the websiteâ??s independent view confirms whatâ??s great about the community.
"This news will draw more eyes â?? and visitors â?? to Columbia," Schneider said. "Everyoneâ??s commitment to make sure Columbia is a place where you want to live, work and raise a family is paying off."
Top 10 Best College Towns 2013 according to Livability.com
1. Boulder, CO
2. Ann Arbor, MI
3. Gainesville, FL
4. Columbia, MO
5. Lexington, KY
6. Iowa City, IA
7. Missoula, MT
8. Madison, WI
9. Fayetteville, AR
10. College Station, TX