The Columbia business landscape hasn't always been as commercial as it is now. Mike Brooks has been a fixture in the city's business outlook for five years, but that reign is coming to an end as Brooks announced his retirement from Regional Economic Development Incorporated (REDI) Wednesday.
REDI strives to help entrepreneurs expand their businesses to become significant employers.
Since coming to Columbia, Brooks has overseen major changes in the local business landscape. Soon after he started, Brooks helped facilitate an IBM service center to Columbia, a move that had been attempted before by REDI before, but failed to accomplish.
And it's Brooks' work within the community that REDI Chairwomen Vicki Russell says was his best contribution.
"We have a very strong effort now to support and encourage entrepreneurism, which means we are embarking heavily on growing our own businesses and industries," Russell said.
Brooks specialized in entrepreneurism and said Columbia's assets provide a breeding ground for small businesses.
"A strength that we have by virtue of the main campus at the University of Missouri with 35,000 students, researchers and other very well-educated, energetic people," Brooks said.
Brooks helped Columbia reach No. 3 on Forbes' list for the best small cities for jobs and was a large part of creating Beyond Meat, a company that uses MU research to make meat substitutes.
Brooks is heading back to his home state of Indiana to be closer to family and plans to officially retire between the end of September and mid-December.