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New landmark in downtown Columbia to be a reflection of the community

After nearly 10 years of development the new Gateway Plaza is scheduled for a grand opening today at 5:30 p.m.

At the corner of Providence and Broadway, the plaza is set to help celebrate Columbia's bicentennial while bringing new art to the downtown area.

The project is the product of the Downtown Community Improvement District, and was funded by a half cent sales tax and a property tax from businesses within the district.

Emmett Russell, the main fabricator of the art was an easy choice to bring the design to life, according to Nickie Davis, the Executive Director of the CID.

"When we went out for the manufacturing for the building of this, we wanted to stay as local as possible. And Emmett Russell was kind of a no brainer," said Davis.

"It means a lot to me. I moved to Columbia for a lot of other reasons. And you know, I started my business when I moved here," Russell said. "This was the goal, was to be able to do custom one off pieces like what you see that we built and so for me it's been a long time in the making to be able to do a project like this."

To try to keep the development local, Russell also sourced all his steel from the local steel shop, Ahren Steel. The only piece outsourced was the actual ball used for the globe, which was ordered from a company in Boston.

Later on in the project Russell used more local companies Fast Yowi Tees and Hahn Custom Laser Engraving to help put the final touches on the globe.

To help fund the $1 million project the CID sought local sponsors for the letters and the globe.

"Each one of the letters and the globe were up for sponsorship. So anybody that was interested could sponsor these pieces," said Davis, "We're happy to say the globe was sponsored by our three main institutions, Mizzou, Stephen's College, and Columbia College took the globe. And then the other ones have all been sponsored by different people throughout our community."

Each letter represents different aspects of the community according to the CID website.

Davis said that two letters are still open for sponsorship, the "B" and the "U", the "B" representing transportation and the "U" representing women in higher education

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