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COU’s new terminal can make Columbia a top medical destination, Parson and Choi say

COU’s new terminal can make Columbia a top medical destination, Parson and Choi say

Hundreds of people turned out for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Columbia Regional Airport’s $23-million new terminal (October 18, 2022 photo from 939 the Eagle’s Stephanie Bell)

Columbia’s mayor says the first flight at Columbia Regional Airport’s (COU) new multi-million dollar terminal will take place on Wednesday (October 26).

Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, Misssouri’s governor, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin and other dignitaries helped cut the ribbon on the $23-million new terminal on Wednesday, as hundreds of people watched. The turnout was so heavy that traffic on Highway 63 was bumper-to-bumper at times, heading from Columbia to COU. Mayor Barbara Buffaloe says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told her it’s the largest crowd they’ve ever seen for a ribbon-cutting event like this.

The aging current terminal was built in 1968. Governor Mike Parson tells 939 the Eagle that he’s impressed with the new facility.

“As I said in the military, they’ll always teach you the first impression is a lasting impression. When you walk into this today, you think of an airport. If you had walked into it months ago, not so much,” Parson says.

The new terminal is 52,000 square feet, compared to the current 16,000 square foot facility. The terminal’s main funding source is a hotel tax approved by Columbia voters in 2016.

COU says the old terminal will house car rental counters until phase two is complete.

Governor Parson describes Columbia as a rising star in the medical health arena. The governor agrees with UM System President Dr. Mun Choi’s aim to make Columbia a top medical destination.

“When you talk about what they’re shipping out of here every day, that affects people all over the world. And it’s going to be more and more people that want to come here. They’re going to want to know how they’re doing it, they’re going to want to know how they can be a part of it, and I think that’s going to grow every day. So it’s a great opportunity for Missouri again,” says Parson.

The governor is referring to isotopes that are made at the MU Research Reactor (MURR) near Columbia’s south Providence road. Dr. Choi tells the audience that about 10,000 of those isotopes made at MURR are shipped out every week from Columbia Regional.

The new terminal also includes four gates and passenger boarding bridges, along with a new restaurant and a storm shelter.