Awards & Accomplishments

digital cities survey winner 2019

Digital Cities Survey: For the fifth year in a row, the City of Columbia has made the Center for Digital Government’s top 10 list.  The Center for Digital Government’s annual Digital Cities Survey recognizes cities using technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency, increase security and encourage citizen engagement.  The City of Columbia placed 3rd in the 75,000-124,999 population category. 

Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index: In 2018, the City of Columbia earned an all-star rating and a perfect score of 100 points on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index for the second year in a row. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization in America working for LGBTQ equality, conducted the annual nationwide evaluation of cities which rates laws, policies, benefits and services of municipalities on established criteria. Of the 506 cities reviewed in 2018, Columbia was one of 78 cities that earned perfect scores. Columbia also earned an all-star rating by obtaining a high score in a state without supportive laws, and is one of only 32 cities in states without statewide nondiscrimination laws for LGBTQ people to earn a perfect score.

Top 100 Best Places to Live: Columbia landed the 6th spot on Livability’s 2019 list of Top 100 Best Places to Live. The ranking cited Columbia’s low unemployment rate, quaint downtown, expansive parks and fun festivals as reasons for the high ranking. See details about the ranking.

Top 10 Cities for Career Opportunities: In 2017, SmartAsset listed Columbia as the 9th best U.S. city for career opportunities. Columbia is a good place to find work. The unemployment rate is only 2.9%, a top 25 rate among the 355 cities analyzed. Columbia is also one of the best cities in the country for getting professional development, as shown by the high number of career counselors and higher education teachers. Columbia has the second-highest number of career counselors in the study with 7.31 per 1,000 workers and the 56th-highest number of higher education teachers per 1,000 workers. 

Details on the study, including full methodology and rankings. 

Department Accreditation: City of Columbia Departments strives to provide quality and consistent services by seeking accreditation in their specific fields.

In July 2015, the Board of Directors for the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) awarded the Columbia, Missouri Convention and Visitors Bureau with accreditation, indicating that they have satisfied the rigorous standards set forth by the professional destination marketing community.

Since February 2001, the Columbia Public Works Department has been accredited by the American Public Works Association (APWA). The accreditation is based on meeting national standards for management practices for all of the department’s areas of responsibility. 

In 2016, the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board.

In 2019, the Columbia Fire Department was awarded certification as an “Accredited Agency” by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

Best Commuter Cities in Missouri: In 2015 Columbia made Obrella’s list of Best Commuter Cities in Missouri. “The city earns our praise for having one of the highest rates of carpoolers and mass transit users among the state’s best commuter cities. Fewer cars on the road could be one reason why 88 percent of Columbia locals get to work in 29 minutes or less.”

Outstanding Plan Award:
Columbia Imagined Plan honored with an Outstanding Plan Award by the Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association. Read the Outstanding Plan Award Press Release.

City of Columbia named the 2014 eCity of Missouri:
In 2014 the City of Columbia was named the eCity of Missouri by Google. Google partnered with research firm Ipsos to identify the strongest online communities in each state – cities who are embracing the power of the internet to find new customers, connect with existing clients, and fuel their local economies.

Best Small Places for Business and Careers: In 2014 Columbia ranked #6 on the Forbes “Best Small Places for Business and Careers” list.

Energy Innovator AwardEnergy Innovator Award: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 1985 and 2013 from the American Public Power Association. This award recognizes an innovative utility program that provides better service to electric customers or increases the efficiency of utility operations.

Best-Performing Cities: In 2013 Columbia jumped nine spots to finish first among small cities in the Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index. Columbia was ranked #10 in 2012 and #25 in 2011.

Top 10 College Towns 2013 LogoBest College Towns: In 2013 recognized Columbia as one of America’s top college towns, ranked just behind Boulder, Ann Arbor and Gainesville.

The 2012-13 College Destinations Index, published by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) ranked Columbia the 10th Best College Town (population under 250,000) in America.

Health Rankings: Columbia/Boone County continues to rank as one of the healthiest counties in the state in the annual County Health Rankings study, which rates counties in terms of residents’ overall health and illustrates just how much a person’s health is determined outside their doctor’s office, by both their behaviors and their environment. Boone County was ranked 9th in Missouri in 2019.

Missouri Prevention Partners LogoChild Abuse Prevention: The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services-Healthy Babies Program was distinguished as a Missouri Prevention Partners 2013 Leader in Child Abuse Prevention for its efforts to prevent child abuse in Missouri.

Top 30 Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs 2013: Columbia is a great place to live. It offers a high quality of life for
people of all ages and interests, a low cost of living, an excellent
education system, outstanding health care. The city has three
institutions of higher education: the University of  Missouri, Columbia College, and Stephens College. Local resources for entrepreneurs includes The Mizzou Advantage, Enterprise Development Corporation, Centennial Investors, AdVentures, and Student Angel Capital Group.

Award of Continued ExcellenceAward of Continued Excellence: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 2013 and 2005 from the American Public Power Association. This award recognizes a member of the Demonstration of Energy Efficiency Development program. This national program’s goal is to support research and development of projects that improve efficiency and the use of renewable resources.

RP3 Award: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 from the American Public Power Association. The Reliable Public Power (RP3) award recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, training and system improvement. Criteria within each category are based on sound business practices and represent a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award: The GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association established the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program (Budget Awards Program) in 1984 to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. The document must meet program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan, and as a communications device. The city has received the budget award every year since FY 1996.

America’s Hardest Working Town: In 2012, Columbia, Missouri was named by Parade Magazine, in partnership with Total Cereal, to be America’s Hardest Working Town in the Country.
They considered average hours worked per capita, our willingness to work during personal time, the number of dual income homes and the local employment rate.

Best Cities for Jobs 2012 logoBest Small Cities for Job Growth: In 2012, New Geography placed Columbia, Missouri #12 on their list of Best Small Cities for JobGrowth

Lowest Unemployment: In August 2012 Forbes ranked Columbia, Missouri #16 for small cities with the lowest unemployment rate.

Best Cities for Aging: Milken Institute ranks Columbia the fourth best place in its smaller metros category. The study looked at measurements which matter most to seniors.

Top 25 Best Places to Retire: In 2012 Forbes magazine recognized Columbia, Missouri on its list of Top 25 places to retire.

Tree City USATree City USA community: In 2012 Columbia was named a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor its commitment to community forestry. It was the 16th year that the city received this distinction.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting: The City of Columbia, Missouri has received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for each of the last thirty three years.  This award is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada and the financial report must satisfy accounting principles and must be organized to strict program standards.

ENERGY STAR for Homes Leadership in Housing Award: Columbia Water & Light received this award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the utility’s Home Performance with Energy Star program.

Cultural Diversity Award: Winner of the National League of Cities 2008 City Cultural Diversity Award for cities with a population between 25,001 and 100,000. The annual Columbia Values Diversity Celebration and the city’s provision of human rights services at the local level were cited as examples of the City of Columbia’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community: The City was named a Bicycle Friendly Community in 2009 by the League of American Bicyclists and is currently the highest ranked Missouri city with this status. A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes cyclists by providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.

Special Achievement in GIS Award: In 2008 Columbia received this award for embracing geographic information system (GIS) technology. Recipients of the Special Achievement in GIS award are selected by ESRI from thousands of organizations worldwide.

Creative Community: In 2007, Columbia was named Missouri’s first Creative Community by the Missouri Arts Council. This prestigious award recognizes that Columbia’s thriving arts industry has a proven economic impact on the community in the areas of business and tourism.

Community Service Award: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 2007 from the American Public Power Association. The award was established to recognize “good neighbor” activities that demonstrate the commitment of a utility and its employees to the community. Columbia Water & Light was recognized for their numerous partners in education programs.

System Achievement Award: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 2006 from the Missouri Public Utility Alliance. This is given to a utility that has demonstrated a commitment to addressing community needs through service programs.

Achievement of Excellence in Procurement: In 2005 the City of Columbia Purchasing Division received an award for Achievement of Excellence in Procurement from the National Purchasing Institute. This prestigious award is earned by those organizations that demonstrate excellence by obtaining a high score based on standardized criteria.  The criteria are designed to measure innovation, professionalism, productivity, e-procurement, and leadership attributes of the procurement organization.

Telly AwardTelly Award: The City Channel has received 17 Telly Awards most recently in 2014. The Telly Awards honor the very best film & video productions, ground breaking online video content, and outstanding local, regional, & cable TV commercials and programs.

Century Award: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 2004 from the American Public Power Association. This award acknowledges public power utilities that have continuously provided electricity to their community for 100 years.

ADDY Awards: In 2003, The City Channel received an ADDY Award. The ADDY Awards is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 50,000 entries every year in local ADDY competitions. The mission of the ADDY competition is to recognize and reward creative excellence in the art of advertising.

NATOA Government Programming Award: The City Channel has received 17 Government Programming Awards most recently in 2000. The Government Programming Awards (GPAs) are annual awards that recognize excellence in broadcast, cable, multimedia and electronic programming produced by local government agencies.

Tree Line USATree Line USA: Columbia Water & Light has received this distinction from the National Arbor Day Foundation each year since 1998. The program honors utilities for responsible tree trimming practices and programs to promote appropriate planting near utility lines.

Website Recognition: Columbia’s Web site earned an A and received 15 out of 17 possible points for City Web sites with populations between 50,001 and 250,000. This is according to a study of city and county Web sites conducted by the National Policy Research Council. Trained viewers visited each Web site to evaluate 25 features in seven categories: usability, citizen responsiveness, accessibility for disabled visitors, information tools, online procurement, job opportunities, and interactive permits andpayments.

Scattergood System Achievement Award: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 1986 from the American Public Power Association. The award is a tribute to E.F. Scattergood, of the Los Angeles, California, Department of Water and Power, who played an important part in the Association’s formation. Member utilities with outstanding achievements are honored through this award.

Award for Energy Innovation: Columbia Water & Light received this award in 1984 from the United States Department of Energy for distinguished contributions to our Nation’s energy efficiency.