Katie Essing, age 41

Executive Director, Downtown Community Improvement District — “The District”

Number of years with this employer and in current position: Just over a year. I began in November of 2014

Number of years lived in Boone County: 12 years, although not consecutively. There is so much to love about our community. … I just keep coming back!

What should anyone moving to Columbia know about our great community?

We have creative and challenging professional opportunities, ranging from small, family-owned businesses to academic opportunities to international companies. There is a wide variety of entertainment, cultural, dining and recreation choices for evenings and weekends. We also enjoy a low cost of living, short commute times and the high – quality educational system.

What is one best-kept secret you know about Columbia?

Buck’s Ice Cream is the Official Ice Cream of Columbia! The ice cream is amazing and made by our own MU food science students. It’s worth the trip … especially for the Tiger Stripe.

What is your favorite event during the year?

We embrace the seasons and have great events year round … festivals, farmers markets, tailgating, games and the District’s Living Windows, that are family traditions that kick off the holiday season.

What has changed in Columbia in the past three years that you really like?

Columbia has not just changed in the past three years. We are ever changing and growing. This economic vitality allows our community to have new and interesting businesses and amenities, which is what makes it so exciting to be here. We are kind of like Missouri weather — always changing.

What is your favorite fact about Columbia that you would like to share?

Columbia boasts an extensive trail system with a variety of trails through parks, wooded areas and nature sanctuaries.