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BUSINESS

imagesheartoftexas.com TM

OF THE HEART OF TEXAS

Clear Skies Ahead for Aerospace Industry

Soft Drink City Dr Pepper, Big Red have Waco roots

All for One, One for All Six counties unite on regional issues

SPONSORED BY THE HEART OF TEXAS COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS | 2008


Large industrial park available for business

SUCCESS AWAITS

IN

GROESBECK

Ideally located in the heart of Texas and the United States, and a quick drive to three of the largest metropolitan areas of the nation, Houston, Dallas and Austin. Trouble-free access to major interstate, rail, regional and international air travel.

GROESBECK

HAS IT

ALL!

160-acre Industrial Park perfect for new or relocation development. Utilities are easily accessible and at extremely reasonable rates. Beautiful Lake Limestone, the Navasota River and a large supply of clean, fresh water provide natural resources for the growing business. A growing economy and well educated workforce abound in the region, adding value to the growing business.

On your doorstep are two of the nation’s finest university research systems – Texas A&M University and Baylor University. Within driving distance of no less than 20 colleges and universities! Experience a much lower cost of business, wonderful climate and a true entrepreneurial spirit that welcomes enterprise.

THE SECRET

IS

OUT

Modern medical facilities, cutting edge educational system and low crime rate make Groesbeck one of the most attractive areas for business development in Texas. Groesbeck Economic Development Corporation will help you unlock the secret to your success through expert business development and assistance.

Groesbeck Economic Development Corp. • (254) 729-5375 • www.groesbecktexas.org


EXPLORE THE OPPORTUNITIES In Groesbeck you will find the atmosphere and comfortable pace of smalltown Texas combined with an attitude of progress and innovation.

You are Always Welcome in Groesbeck!

There is something for everyone – from the great abundance of recreation, natural habitat, hunting, fishing, camping to nearby arts and cultural events. You don’t have to go far for a wonderful day in Groesbeck. Beautiful Lake Limestone is a water wonderland yearround. You can walk in pioneer’s footsteps at historic Old Ft. Parker after a leisurely trip down the pristine Navasota River or how about strolling on the beautiful Courthouse Square? Be sure to enjoy the annual events like the Southwest Fiddle Championship, Lions Club Car Show, Limestone County Fair and the lively 4th of July Celebration. Stop by the city park for year-round activities. From swimming to volleyball and reunions, Groesbeck is a fun place to meet new friends and old acquaintances. Maffett Library has the latest technology to meet the ever-changing needs of citizens from toddlers to seniors and is well known for its genealogy research department.

Groesbeck Chamber of Commerce • (254) 729-3894 • www.cityofgroesbeck.com


SUCCESS BEGINS WITH QUALITY EDUCATION Groesbeck is the home of state-of-the-art educational facilities preparing students for the future. Academic success and extra-curricular go hand in hand. Academics bring the best of technology with a team approach to building the leaders of tomorrow. Access to some of the nation’s finest colleges and universities enhances the learning environment. Athletic facilities equal to those found on the collegiate level incorporate the connection between learning and physical fitness.

Groesbeck Chamber of Commerce • (254) 729-3894 • www.groesbeck.k12.tx.us


A NEW VISION IN HEALTHCARE

LIMESTONE MEDICAL CENTER

Area’s Newest State-Of-The-Art Hospital Designated Level Four Trauma Center Only hospital owned and operated Emergency Medical Services Family Medicine Clinic conveniently located on hospital campus

701 McClintic • Groesbeck, Texas 76642 • (254) 729-3281 • swood@lmchospital.com


contents BUSINESS TM

OVERVIEW

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9

BUSINESS ALMANAC

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BUSINESS CLIMATE

All for One, One for All

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In the Heart of Texas region, cities and counties are teaming up in the name of progress. AE ROSPACE

Clear Skies Ahead for Aerospace Industry

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Aviation job growth in Waco has increased 19 percent over the past four years.

21

MANUFACTURING

Made in the Heart of Texas, USA

20

The manufacturing sector is alive and well diversiďŹ ed here.

Soft Drink City

21

READ MORE ONLINE

IMAGESHEARTOFTEXAS . com LINKS Click on links to local Web sites and learn more about the business click climate, demographics, service providers and other aspects of life here.

TR ANSPORTATION

Easy Come, Easy Go

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Convenient transportation options fuel economic development throughout the region.

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SHARE E-mail articles to a friend, Digg them, or use the RSS feed function to keep track of content updates. ABOUT THIS MAGAZINE Business Images of the Heart of Texas is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is sponsored by the the Heart of Texas Council of Governments. In print and online, Business Images gives readers a taste of what makes the Heart of Texas tick â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from transportation and technology to health care and quality of life.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Find the good â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and praise it.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Alex Haley (1921-1992), Journal Communications co-founder

jnlcom.com

HEART OF TEXAS

On the Cover PHOTO BY WES ALDRIDGE Waco Suspension Bridge

IMAGESHEARTOFTEXAS.COM

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contents AGRICULTURE

24

29

Fertile Ground for Growth

24

Agriculture continues to provide a solid base for the regional economy. E N E RGY

All Fired Up

26

Across the Heart of Texas region, the future is bright for the energy industry. E DUCATION

Multiple Choices

29

A multitude of colleges and universities help move the region to the head of the class.

35

Training Tomorrowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Workforce

29

Education for Everyone

31

HEALTH CARE

The Prognosis Is Positive

32

Providing quality medical care is a time-honored tradition in central Texas.

Caring for Vets

33

QUALITY OF LIFE

Welcome Home

34

Affordable housing, a moderate climate, lots to do and friendly people make the Heart of Texas a great place to call home.

36

Alive With the Arts

35

Fine Location for Recreation

35

RETAIL & RESTAUR ANTS

Wind in Their Sales

36

Retailing in the Heart of Texas is booming, from specialty shops to big-box discount stores.

This Downtown Is on the Rebound

37

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

37

ECONOMIC PROFILE

38

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION: CITY OF LACY LAKEVIEW

HEART OF TEXAS

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BUSINESS TM

THE HEA R T OF TEXAS 2008 EDITION, VOLUME 1

MANAGING EDITOR MAURICE FLIESS COPY EDITOR JOYCE CARUTHERS ASSOCIATE EDITORS LISA BATTLES, KIM MADLOM, ANITA WADHWANI ASSISTANT EDITOR REBECCA DENTON STAFF WRITERS CAROL COWAN, KEVIN LITWIN, JESSICA MOZO DIRECTORIES EDITORS AMANDA MORGAN, KRISTY WISE EDITORIAL ASSISTANT JESSY YANCEY CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PAM GEORGE, ANNE GILLEM, STACEY HARTMANN, LAURA HILL, KELLI LEVEY, BILL LEWIS, LEANNE LIBBY, VALERIE PASCOE, GARY PERILLOUX REGIONAL SALES MANAGER CHARLES FITZGIBBON ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER TODD POTTER INTEGRATED MEDIA MANAGER TRIP MILLER ONLINE SALES MANAGER MATT SLUTZ SALES COORDINATOR SARA SARTIN STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS JEFF ADKINS, WES ALDRIDGE, TODD BENNETT, ANTONY BOSHIER, MICHAEL W. BUNCH, IAN CURCIO, BRIAN M C CORD CREATIVE DIRECTOR KEITH HARRIS WEB DESIGN DIRECTOR SHAWN DANIEL PRODUCTION DIRECTOR NATASHA LORENS ASSISTANT PRODUCTION DIRECTOR CHRISTINA CARDEN PRE-PRESS COORDINATOR HAZEL RISNER SENIOR PRODUCTION PROJECT MGR. TADARA SMITH PRODUCTION PROJECT MGRS. MELISSA HOOVER, JILL WYATT SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS LAURA GALLAGHER, KRIS SEXTON, VIKKI WILLIAMS LEAD DESIGNER LINDA MOREIRAS GRAPHIC DESIGN JESSICA BRAGONIER, CANDICE HULSEY, JANINE MARYLAND, AMY NELSON, CARL RATLIFF WEB PROJECT MANAGER ANDY HARTLEY WEB DESIGN RYAN DUNLAP, CARL SCHULZ WEB PRODUCTION JILL TOWNSEND DIGITAL ASSET MANAGER ALISON HUNTER COLOR IMAGING TECHNICIAN CORY MITCHELL AD TRAFFIC MEGHANN CAREY, SARAH MILLER, PATRICIA MOISAN, RAVEN PETTY CHAIRMAN GREG THURMAN PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER BOB SCHWARTZMAN EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT RAY LANGEN SR. V.P./CLIENT DEVELOPMENT JEFF HEEFNER SR. V.P./SALES CARLA H. THURMAN SR. V.P./PRODUCTION & OPERATIONS CASEY E. HESTER V.P./SALES HERB HARPER V.P./VISUAL CONTENT MARK FORESTER V.P./TRAVEL PUBLISHING SYBIL STEWART EXECUTIVE EDITOR TEREE CARUTHERS MANAGING EDITOR/TRAVEL SUSAN CHAPPELL PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR JEFFREY S. OTTO CONTROLLER CHRIS DUDLEY ACCOUNTING MORIAH DOMBY, DIANA GUZMAN, MARIA MCFARLAND, LISA OWENS, JACKIE YATES RECRUITING/TRAINING DIRECTOR SUZY WALDRIP COMMUNITY PROMOTION DIRECTOR CINDY COMPERRY DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR GARY SMITH MARKETING COORDINATOR AMY AKIN IT SYSTEMS DIRECTOR MATT LOCKE IT SERVICE TECHNICIAN RYAN SWEENEY HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER PEGGY BLAKE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR NICOLE WILLIAMS SALES SUPPORT MANAGER/ CUSTOM PUBLISHING PATTI CORNELIUS OFFICE MANAGER SHELLY GRISSOM

At St. Jude Children·s Research Hospital, we can·t. That·s why we are working every day to find cures for lifethreatening diseases that strike children everywhere. Diseases like cancer, pediatric AIDS, and sickle cell. And we won·t stop until every child is cured and every disease is defeated.

Because we can·t imagine a world without children … can you? Call 1-800-996-4100 or log onto www.stjude.org to learn how you can help.

Business Images of the Heart of Texas is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is distributed through the Heart of Texas Council of Governments. For advertising information or to direct questions or comments about the magazine, contact Journal Communications Inc. at (615) 771-0080 or by e-mail at info@jnlcom.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Heart of Texas Council of Governments 1514 S. New Road • Waco, TX 76711 Phone: (254) 292-1800• Fax: (254) 756-0102 www.hotcog.org VISIT BUSINESS IMAGES OF THE HEART OF TEXAS ONLINE AT IMAGESHEARTOFTEXAS.COM ©Copyright 2007 Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Member Member

Finding cures. Saving children.

Magazine Publishers of America Custom Publishing Council

Member Heart of Texas Council of Governments

Please recycle this magazine

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HEART OF TEXAS


WHY WORTHAM? Small-Town Life Located Near the Best that Texas has to Offer

Quality of Life • Friendly People • Excellent Environment for Small-Town Business • Award-Winning School System • Affordable Living • Variety of Organizations and Churches • Near Outdoor Recreation

Historic Community • Oil Boom Town • Historic Homes • Original Brick Streets Downtown • Home of Blues Legend “Blind” Lemon Jefferson

Location, Location, Location • Minutes from Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Camping • 45 Minutes from Waco • One Hour from DFW Airport • 30-50 Minutes from Universities, Colleges and Jr. Colleges

Wortham Economic Development Corporation PO Box 186 • Wortham, TX 76693 (254) 765-3319 • www.worthamtx.com


Rosebud Charm as Rare as snow in Texas!

 Historic Downtown Shopping  Beautiful Homes  Welcoming Churches  Excellent Schools Located 25 miles East of Temple on Hwy. 53; 35 miles Southeast of Waco on Hwy. 77

Photo courtesy of Pioneer Photography


overview

PUMPING THE HEART OF TEXAS Council of Governments promotes regional economic development

Heart of Texas

With a temperate climate and a central Texas location within easy reach of major metropolitan areas, the Heart of Texas is a vibrant region that increasing numbers of businesses call home.

Encompassing the counties of Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone and McLennan, the region is anchored by Waco, which has a diverse economy led by education, government, health services, manufacturing, transportation and utilities. The Heart of Texas Council of Governments provides a forum for developing solutions to matters that transcend political boundaries. The 41-year-old organization has more than 80 members, including counties, cities, school districts, special districts and community colleges. Its board of directors is composed of one or more elected officials from each member government. HOTCOG’s work impacts more than 300,000 people in the 5,611-square-mile region. Its responsibilities include planning for development, implementing regional plans or recommendations, providing review and comment on proposals seeking federal

and state financial assistance, and implementing grant services from federal and state programs. HOTCOG also sponsors training for newly elected officials and provides workshops for city and county officials on emerging regional issues. “We are able to bring a diverse group of folks together in one organization,” says Kenneth L. Simons, executive director. “All the individual issues the various counties have to deal with can be brought together, and we can help them reach some kind of consensus.” Simons says HOTCOG often has opportunities to support economic development by pairing potential new businesses with county officials. “We have good relationships with the economic development corporations,” he says. “We helped form the Heart of Texas Economic Development District to serve our six-county region.” One recent initiative was participating in the effort to bring the proposed FutureGen coal-fired power plant to neighboring Leon County. The $1.5 billion project would use technology resulting in near-zero emissions. (See story, page 26.) The council is financed through local, state and federal funding, with state-administered resources covering most of the budget. Local funds come from dues paid by member governments. “Community support has been outstanding in the past few years,” Simons says. “Everyone has consistently come together to support economic development throughout the region.”

BOSQUE

HILL

– Leanne Libby

Hillsboro

Meridian

6

Fairfield MCLENNAN

84

FREESTONE Groesbeck

Waco

LIMESTONE 35

77

Marlin

FALLS

HEART OF TEXAS

SEE VIDEO ONLINE | Take a virtual tour of the Heart of Texas at imagesheartoftexas.com, courtesy of our awardwinning photographers.

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Because of its unique location and natural and historical assets, Hillsboro is desirable place for light manufacturing, retail business development, outlet shopping and heritage tourism.

We will deliver an authentic experience that proves Hillsboro is a great place to live, shop, play, study and do business. We promise to always treat everyone that comes to Hillsboro as if they are part of our family and always do everything we can to make Hillsboro beautiful.

w w w. h i l l s b o r o t x . o r g

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HEART OF TEXAS


overview

TOP 10 REASONS TO DO BUSINESS IN THE HEART OF TEXAS REGION 1. Central Location The Heart of Texas is “Deep in the Heart of Texas” along the I-35 and I-45 corridors, equidistant between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth. The proposed Trans Texas Corridor would enhance the network of highways. Extensive air and railway transportation infrastructure also is found throughout the region.

2. Talented Workforce Baylor University, with more than 25 research institutes, is centrally located in the Heart of Texas. Also in the region are Texas State Technical College, Hill College and McLennan Community College. Each of these institutions supplies the region with a talented, well-educated workforce for a variety of business endeavors.

The region also is filled with “mom and pop” places to dine as well as nationally familiar chain restaurants.

8. Quality of Life Whether you’re looking for the tranquility of a small town or the pace of a modern city, the Heart of Texas has it all. In 2007, Money magazine named Hewitt the 44th best place to live in the United States, and this highly rated quality of life runs throughout the region.

9. Cultural Vitality Cultural experiences enrich life here. The region is home to the Bosque Conservatory, Cameron Park Zoo, Texas Ranger Museum, Dr Pepper Museum, Waco Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera and many other offerings. A Columbian mammoth excavation site was recently accepted into the National Park System.

3. Affordable Living The Heart of Texas offers a wonderful lifestyle at an affordable price. The region has one of the nation’s lowest costs of living, resulting in more disposable income for residents to enjoy the many amenities found here. In addition, Texas has no personal income tax.

10. Educational Excellence School districts in the Heart of Texas region strive for educational excellence. There is a realization and an appreciation that education is the key to success in life, and the teachers here work hard to motivate and challenge students to do their absolute best.

4. Premium Health Care Hillcrest Health System, Providence Healthcare Network and Scott & White serve the area with topnotch medical services. Both Hillcrest Hospital and Providence Hospital are preparing to move into new buildings, increasing service capacity and quality.

5. Business Incentives The Heart of Texas treats private enterprise right by welcoming businesses with enterprise zones plus incentives such as tax abatements, economic development grants and fee waivers. Many economic development corporations within the region provide extensive assistance to businesses.

6. Healthy Lifestyle

WES ALDRIDGE

If you enjoy the outdoors, you will love the Heart of Texas. Lake Waco and Lake Whitney offer various recreational activities. Waco’s 416-acre Cameron Park, the start of the Texas Hill Country, is filled with challenging hiking and biking trails.

7. Shopping and Dining From the outlet stores in Hillsboro to the Central Texas MarketPlace in Waco, there are countless places to spend that extra disposable income.

HEART OF TEXAS

Pat Neff Hall is a landmark on the Baylor University campus.

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business almanac

HOWDY, LET’S PARTY If you can’t find an annual festival to enjoy in the Heart of Texas region, you aren’t looking hard enough. Waco is home to the Margarita and Salsa Festival, Brazos River Festival and Homestead Crafts & Children’s Fest. Also in McLennan County, West puts on Westfest, a celebration of the city’s Czech heritage, while Limestone County hosts the Make Mine Texas Music Fest. Bosque County has several big events: the National Championship Barbecue Cookoff, Bosque Conservatory’s Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, Oktoberfest, Norwegian Constitution Day and the Norse Smorgasbord.

PARADISE FOR PADDLERS The falls of the Brazos River and areas upstream and downstream form a particularly scenic stretch of Falls County. Wildlife, birdlife and aquatic life are abundant, and canoe and kayak paddlers are discovering this remote portion of the river. It features about 28 miles of flat-water paddling between Marlin and Cameron. There are numerous natural campsites along the river, while Falls County operates a small park where tent camping is available.

WHITE HOUSE, LONE STAR STYLE When President Bush is not in the Nation’s Capital, there is a chance he is in Crawford. George W. and Laura Bush purchased 1,600 acres of ranch land in 1999 in an area known as Prairie Chapel. The property includes a creek, canyon, waterfalls and cattle, and the 43rd president added a fishing lake stocked with bass. During Bush’s presidency, many heads of state and other dignitaries have been guests at the ranch.

THAT’S A BIG BOOK Waco native Madison Cooper wrote what was the longest novel by a U.S. author when it was published in 1952. Sironia, Texas took 11 years for the novelist and philanthropist to complete, with the two-volume book containing 1,731 pages. The story portrays life in a fictional Texas town of Sironia from 1900 to 1921. It features 83 characters in 21 different plot lines, tracing the conflict between Sironia’s decaying Southern aristocracy and its rising merchant class. In 1952, the book’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin, presented the then-59-year-old Cooper with its Fellowship Award.

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HEART OF TEXAS


MAMMOTH DISCOVERIES Huge Columbian mammoths once roamed the area now known as Waco, with the large elephants weighing as much as 20,000 pounds. In 1978, the bones of two mammoths were discovered, and since then the skeletons of nearly 20 more of the huge creatures have been part of an ongoing excavation project near the confluence of the Brazos and Bosque rivers. The archeological site – co-owned by the city of Waco and Baylor University – has been accepted into the National Park System. PHOTO COURTESY OF BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

P H OTO C O U R T E S Y O F N AVA L H I S TO R I C A L C E N T E R

VERY SOOTHING Hot mineral water was found in Marlin in 1892 – by accident. Town officials were looking for an artesian well when they discovered the mineral water. Businesses started cropping up, including Bethesda Bathhouse, Majestic Bathhouse and the Imperial Hotel, and the health industry thrived there for the next 50 years. People still travel to the Falls County seat to draw the water, and Texas recently proclaimed Marlin as the Official Hot Mineral Water City of Texas. The Marlin Chamber of Commerce occupies a portion of a pavilion where mineral water was drawn beginning in 1903.

HERITAGE REMEMBERED The Texas Heritage Museum, on the campus of Hill College, is home to a 3,000-volume library on Lone Star State history. Much of the museum is devoted to the Civil War era, with documents and exhibits on historical events such as the famed Hood’s Texas Brigade. Other displays include a weapons gallery, artifacts pertaining to World War II hero and Texas native Audie Murphy, and a stateof-the-art theater for group presentations.

HEART OF TEXAS

A HERO FROM THE DAY OF INFAMY A Waco native was at the epicenter of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Doris “Dorie” Miller was a ship’s cook in the U.S. Navy on that fateful day of Dec. 7, 1941. He was aboard the battleship USS West Virginia when the attack occurred, and Miller helped carry wounded sailors to areas of safety during the ordeal. He then manned an anti-aircraft machine gun, even though he wasn’t trained for it. Miller’s bravery earned him the Navy Cross in 1942, but he was killed two years later in the sinking of the escort carrier USS Liscome Bay. In 1973, a Navy escort ship was named the USS Miller in his honor.

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business climate

All for One, ONE FOR

ALL

Heart of Texas unifies six counties for the greater economic good

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HEART OF TEXAS


PHOTOS BY WES ALDRIDGE

Kenneth L. Simons, executive director of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, says HOTCOG helps cities and counties work together to solve problems and attract businesses to the region. Left: HOTCOG helped in convincing the federal government to spare the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center so it can continue to serve veterans.

I

n the Heart of Texas region, cities and counties are teaming up in the name of progress. This unified approach, nurtured by the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, has achieved impressive successes. Not only did it help convince federal officials to preserve Waco’s medical center for veterans, but it also brought improvements to the region’s homeland security communications network. HOTCOG also supported efforts to attract a new-generation, near-zero-emissions power plant to a neighboring county. Even in the vital arena of economic development, which inevitably pits communities against one another, Heart of Texas leaders communicate regularly to stay focused on the greater regional good, says Kenneth L. Simons, executive director of Waco-based HOTCOG. So while one city may win new business, the entire region reaps the benefits of more jobs, heightened real estate demand, greater tax revenue, and increased service and retail activity. “I think our region of the state just has a lot to offer when it comes to economic development for new businesses coming in,” Simons says. Advantages include equal travel distance between Austin and Dallas (about a two-hour

HEART OF TEXAS

drive), proximity to Interstates 35 and 45, educational opportunities, a smalltown quality of life, and ample industrial and commercial development space. KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY Regionalism came into play recently when the Waco Regional Landfill agreed to supply the Mars SnackFood U.S. plant in Waco with methane gas for fuel. A pipeline built by Cromeco Inc. of San Antonio will carry the methane gas, which is naturally emitted by landfills and much less expensive than natural gas. “The decreased amount of methane in the air benefits the entire community as it provides better air quality for the region,” says Jenny Parker, HOTCOG’s community and economic development planner. In McLennan County, the city of McGregor boasts a large industrial park and “is more than willing to bend over backwards for any company to get them in here and keep them here,” says Leo Connor, executive director of the McGregor Economic Development Corp., which manages the park and works to attract and retain businesses for the city. But that doesn’t mean McGregor won’t support neighboring areas should a project make sense elsewhere. “If somebody moves to Hewitt or Waco or

Woodway, they didn’t come to McGregor,” he says, “but we didn’t necessarily lose, because they’re going to be hiring people from McGregor. And we all understand that.” STATE COOPERATION Like other regional employers, Double B Foods Inc., a Meridian-based frozen foods producer, is challenged to attract and keep its employees, who are mostly unskilled workers. When the company expanded its Bosque County plant by 40,000 square feet in 2003 to accommodate a newly acquired line of wraps, dips and appetizers, a ready workforce was a necessary ingredient. Ron Bowlin, Double B’s chief financial officer, says the company got a boost when the Texas Workforce Commission gave the company’s 225 employees greater access to resources such as child care, housing allowances and insurance, “That’s one thing they work with us on,” Bowlin says.” While regionalism is certainly not uncommon in other areas of the nation, “I don’t think it honestly caught hold” in many places, McGregor’s Connor says. “Texas is different. It’s really an incredibly friendly state.” – Stacey Hartmann

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aerospace

Clear Skies

Ahead

Aerospace industry showers Waco with a half-billion dollars in economic impact

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HEART OF TEXAS


WES ALDRIDGE

Adjacent to Waco Regional Aiport, RAM Aircraft LP has an aircraft engine overhaul facility and a general aviation support center. Left: L-3 Communications Integrated Systems won a bid to build cargo planes for the U.S. Army and Air Force.

P

resident George W. Bush and the grandson of Charles Lindbergh are among the travelers who have helped to propel Waco’s burgeoning aerospace industry. For President Bush, Waco represents his most frequent westward destination. The former Connally Air Force Base – now Texas State Technical College Waco Airport – welcomes Air Force One about a dozen times a year on its 8,400-foot runway, and the president’s Crawford ranch is a hop away aboard his Marine One helicopter. TSTC Waco Airport, eight miles northeast of downtown, represents just one slice of the area’s aviation capacity. Waco Regional Airport provides passenger service via American Eagle and Continental Connection 10 miles northwest of the city center (see story, page 22), while McGregor Executive Airport serves corporate aviation needs on the southwest perimeter. All the airfields are on the radar of Waco’s business leaders. “Of the six industry sectors we targeted for the area, we’ve really experienced the most growth in aviation,” says Sarah Roberts, vice president of economic development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. “It’s really remarkable. It shows a good picture of what happens when industry collaborates.” WORLDWIDE CUSTOMERS Aviation job growth leaped 19 percent in the four years since the establishment of the Greater Waco Aviation Alliance. The group fosters supplier relationships, educational and workforce initiatives with local public schools and higher education, and assists in promoting economic development. In 2005, the region’s strategic plan – Challenge Greater Waco – identified aerospace as one of six sectors warranting heavy investment. Much investment already exists, with more than 30 aviation businesses creating 3,900 jobs in the sphere of the airports, making Waco an aerospace hub with a half-billiondollar economic impact, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The reach is global. “Our business is actually all over the world,” says Mark Wennin, marketing director for RAM Aircraft LP, a 32-year-old aircraft modification business employing 115 at Waco Regional Airport. RAM’s bread-and-butter – the overhauling of Cessna,

HEART OF TEXAS

Beech and other aircraft engines – attracts customers from as far as Mexico, Germany, South Africa and Australia. “We have a very specific niche of planes that we work on,” Wennin says. “A lot of people will call us about planes that we don’t even work on, but we know how to get their parts. We try to help people out any way we can.” DREAMLINER AND OTHER CONTRACTS With a fulcrum of aviation manufacturers and service firms, the region is poised to spring into still bigger operations – including complete aircraft assembly. “I’m confident that for smaller aircraft, that could happen tomorrow,” says Lance Martin, a spokesman for L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Waco’s largest private employer with 1,600 workers. Waco could be equipped for larger aircraft manufacturing, too, but demand and diversification are pushing that business to multiple locations. An example is Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. Components are being built on multiple continents. L-3, as a customer of the Rolls-Royce aerospace firm, retrofitted a Boeing 747 and is test-flying the jet over Waco with what will be the Dreamliner engine. L-3 Communications also won the lead role in a $2 billion contract to build 78 C-27J cargo aircraft for the U.S. Army and Air Force, with final outfitting of the aircraft to take place in Waco. In another job, the company scissored a 747, relocated the bulkhead forward and installed a 20-ton telescope so that NASA can obtain clearer images of space at 45,000 feet, above most of Earth’s water vapor. Fittingly, the father of transatlantic f light – Charles Lindbergh – lent his spirit to the christening of the stratospheric observatory when his grandson, Erik Lindbergh, christened the jet in 2007. “It just speaks to the world-class design and engineering capability we have here and the hands-on ability of our people,” Martin says. “There’s a company here in central Texas that can do anything to any airplane that physics will allow.” – Gary Perilloux

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manufacturing

Made in the

Heart of Texas,USA The manufacturing sector is alive and well-diversified here

CONSTRUCTION FASTENERS Many other companies have found that the Heart of Texas region is ideal for manufacturing. In the Waco area alone, manufacturing employment exceeds 16,000, up from 13,500 in 2004. “Manufacturing within the central Texas region is very strong,” says Kenneth L. Simons, executive director of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments. “It offers a lot of diversity.” Indeed, manufacturing here covers a broad spectrum that includes fabri-

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hen William F. Mims founded his scaffolding com pany, Texas Mast Climbers, he wanted to conquer Texas. “We thought it would be a big step,” says Mims, who opened for business in 1996. “But it didn’t take long.” Today, the company ships electronic scaffolding – used to climb up and down high-rise buildings – across the United States. The national focus resulted in a new name, American Mast Climbers. But the name is not the only change. Mims has since moved the company from its birthplace in Fort Worth to Hill County – closer to his country ranch. The location has other advantages, too. Hill County is within easy driving distance of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. “You add that up and you’ve got millions of people,” he says. American Mast Climbers employs about 35 people.

William F. Mims, CEO of American Mast Climbers, employs about 35 in his Hill County manufacturing facility that produces scaffolding for high-rise buildings.

cated metal products, transportation equipment, machinery, appliances and construction materials. Alcoa Fastening Systems, which employs more than 500 people in McLennan County, produces in excess of 200,000 pounds of Huck brand construction fasteners each day at its 400,000-square-foot Waco plant. AGGREGATE ROCKS Pittsburgh-based Alcoa is one of many major manufacturers with a presence in the region. Another is Vulcan Materials Co., headquartered in Birmingham, Ala. In 1997, it purchased a company in aptly named Limestone County to produce aggregates.

“You’ll find our product in paving, concrete and road base,” says Sam Beene, manager of the plant near Groesbeck. About 44 percent of the aggregates are used to build and maintain highways, bridges, roads, airports, railroads, and water and sewer systems, Beene says. ARCHITECTURAL MOLDING Clifton Moulding Corp. in Bosque County helps with the finishing touches in construction. The company makes architectural molding for the retail building-supply and home-improvement industry. Company President Don Knustrom says he appreciates the area’s proximity to the Port of Houston, where the company

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receives a steady supply of lumber. Like American Mast Climbers’ Mims, Knustrom enjoys quick access to multiple customers within easy driving distance. “We ship all over the United States,” Knustrom says, and to Canada, too. TRUCK CAMPERS AND SHELLS Family-run operations also are represented in the region’s manufacturing sector. Consider P&S Camper Manufacturing Inc. in Falls County, owned by David Pomykal and his sister, Mary Hubik. The company, which has been in the family since 1970, makes truck campers and camper shells. Products include flat shells, which fit snugly atop a truck bed for storage, and campers that sit atop the bed and can exceed the cab’s height. “We custom-build the wood frame and aluminum cover,” Pomykal says. Customers detail their specifications and desires, and P&S makes them a

reality. The company averages about 1,800 custom campers a year. CORPORATE GOODWILL Area manufacturers do more than help fuel the economy. They also promote values. Named to Fortune magazine’s list of America’s Most Admired Companies seven times, Vulcan was in the top 10 among the Fortune 1000 for social responsibility and long-term investments and in the top 20 for financial soundness and use of corporate assets. In April 2007, the Heart of Texas Workforce Development Board recognized Alcoa Fastening Systems for its business practices and community services standards. Manufacturers in the Heart of Texas also are helping to preserve the manufacturing heart of American business. “It’s an American-made product,” Mims says of his scaffolding. “I’m still one of the guys that believes in America. – Pam George

Soft Drink City DR PEPPER ORIGINATED IN WACO; BIG RED HAS NATIONAL ASPIRATIONS No one really knows how Dr Pepper got its name, but there’s no doubt about its birthplace. America’s oldest soft drink was invented in Waco in 1885 – one year before Coca-Cola was first concocted in Atlanta. The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, which opened in Waco in 1991 and welcomed its one-millionth visitor in August 2007, pays homage to the product that began in Morrison’s Old Corner Drugstore. Since then, it has become one of the top-selling soft drinks in the world. “Dr Pepper ranks sixth or seventh in worldwide sales – figures are in the billions of dollars and millions of cases,” says Jack McKinney, executive director of the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, which is housed in the historic Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Co. building on Fifth Street in downtown Waco. “The museum has three floors with exhibits about the history of the bottling industry and free enterprise economics, and includes a replica of the Corner Drugstore and an animated figure of Dr. (Charles) Alderton, the pharmacist,” McKinney says. At the museum soda fountain, visitors sip Dr Pepper sodas, floats and milkshakes, as well as treats flavored by another Waco-based soft drink – Big Red.

HEART OF TEXAS

Vulcan Materials Co., which opened a plant near Groesbeck in 1997, produces aggregates used in paving projects.

In 2007, self-described “soft-drink guy” Gary Smith of Austin purchased Big Red Inc., named for the beverage invented by Grover Thomsen and R.H. Roark at the Perfection Barber and Beauty Supply in Waco in 1937. Big Red concentrate is still produced in Waco, and about 40 independent operations bottle and sell the product. Smith, former chief operating officer for another beverage, Red Bull, plans to keep Big Red’s headquarters in Waco while expanding the soft drink’s distribution nationwide. – Carol Cowan

The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute houses exhibits that recount the 123-year history of the soft drink.

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Easy Come, Transportation options keep the region moving forward

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rom trucks to trains to airplanes, convenient transportation options are fueling economic development throughout the Heart of Texas region. “With the global economy, our transportation infrastructure connects the region to the rest of the world,” says John Helsley, president of the Texas Alliance of Rail Districts, a not-for-profit organization that promotes growth of short-line railroads to link agricultural and business clients with the area’s two major railroads, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Union Pacific. Quick access via Interstates 35 and 45, Amtrak passenger service, convenient flights at Waco Regional Airport and private travel at nine general-aviation airports round out the region’s transportation options and explain why businesses such as Wal-Mart have located major logistics centers and warehouses here. “We were attracted by Waco’s central location and infrastructure,” says Mike Hansen, Wal-Mart’s regional transportation manager for Texas. Because the Wal-Mart Return Center serves stores in a large part of the Southwest, the company needed a central location to save trucking time and expense.

“Our return center is right on the freeway,” Hansen says. “It’s very convenient for our drivers,” and fuel-efficient, too. LOGICAL LOGISTICS In fact, many other shippers have been attracted by the Heart of Texas’ central location within a triangle formed by Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Looking at a map, they can quickly see that the six-county region is an easy day’s drive from many of the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas. That explains why the region is home to more than 30 motor-freight carriers and a growing number of distribution centers. In McLennan County, for example, trucking is fueling a multimillion-dollar boom at the city of Robinson’s industrial park along I-35. Recent projects there include SAIA Motor Freight’s $1.3 million depot, Southeastern Freight Lines’ $1.7 million depot and Southern Tire Mart’s 21,000-square-foot, $1 million warehouse. In Waco, meanwhile, the 975,000square-foot, $7.9 million Caterpillar Logistics Center is in the works. Transportation options would grow even further if the Trans Texas Corridor becomes reality. It would add a new high-speed highway with separate lanes

Waco Regional Airport, which offers commercial service to hubs in DallasFort Worth and Houston, is getting a $7 million expansion and renovation.

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transportation

Go for trucks as well as high-speed passenger rail service. Christopher Evilia, transportation planner for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, says the proposal has sparked an important conversation about future transportation needs. “A lot of it is being fueled by the tremendous growth of the region,” Evilia says. AIR TRAVEL ACCELERATES Anticipating growth, Waco Regional Airport is undergoing a $7 million expansion that will increase convenience and safety, including three new gates, enclosed boarding bridges, a new fire station and other improvements. The airport, which offers American Eagle service to Dallas-Fort Worth and Continental

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Connection service to Houston, had a record 75,000 boardings in 2006, according to Waco Aviation Director Richard Howell. “It’s easy to get to the airport. Parking is free. Fares are competitive. It creates a great experience for the traveler and is a great return on the community’s investment,” Howell notes. The same can be said of all the transportation options that keep the Waco region moving forward. – Bill Lewis

Easy access to Interstates 35 and 45 makes it convenient for manufacturers to export goods to most of the country.

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Fertile Ground for Growth

Agriculture continues to provide a solid base for the regional economy

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WES ALDRIDGE

agribusiness

Sanderson Farms Inc.’s Waco chicken processing plant gets feed from local farmers. Left: With fertile soil, annual rainfall that averages 32 inches and a 253-day growing season, the region has a strong agricultural sector. P H OTO B Y S T E P H E N C H E R R Y

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rowing up on a family ranch and having managed a cattle operation for 15 years, Scott Felton knows the value of a hard day’s work in the Heart of Texas region. Today, as the head of community banking for Wells Fargo in Waco, Felton sees first-hand the strong impact agriculture continues to have on the local economy. “This area has always been relatively diverse with respect to the types of agricultural enterprises,” Felton says. “It’s an important part of our history and an important part of our economy.” With fertile soil, annual rainfall that averages 32 inches and a 253-day growing season, the six-county region is an agricultural heartland. In addition to producing crops such as corn, sorghum, soybeans, wheat, peaches, pecans, cotton and Christmas trees, the area is known for its livestock and poultry operations. According to statistics from the Waco-based Texas Farm Bureau, the Heart of Texas region was expected to generate nearly $400 million in revenues from agricultural products in 2007, placing it among the state’s leaders. “Agriculture is strong here, and I don’t see that impact changing drastically into the future. One of the things that has changed in a positive way, however, is agricultural sales in the poultry business,” Felton says. “It has had a very big impact.” PREPARING POULTRY FOR MARKET One major player in the poultry business locally is Sanderson Farms Inc. In August 2007, the Laurel, Miss.-based company opened a 180,000-square-foot facility in Waco.

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“When we’re fully operational, the plant will represent a more than $80 million capital investment and create 1,400 new jobs for the market,” says Bob “Pic” Billingsley, director of development and engineering for Sanderson Farms. “We’re expecting to run 1,250,000 head of chickens per week” through the facility. For local farmers, the volume of poultry processed by Sanderson Farms means a tremendous opportunity to supply feed for chickens. “The tertiary investment of farmers in the surrounding counties – primarily eastern McLennan, Falls and Limestone – is in excess of $100 million,” says Sarah Roberts, vice president of economic development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. “The poultry industry makes such a direct impact on the rural areas.” Another national poultry company with a big presence in the region is Pittsburg, Texas-based Pilgrim’s Pride, which also operates a processing facility in Waco. “The poultry industry has provided a real shot in the arm for agriculture in this region,” says McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis. “Area farmers are very excited about it.” Lewis says local officials are focused on continuing to move the Heart of Texas region forward as additional agribusinessrelated opportunities arise. “Coming down the pike I see the possibility for an ethanol plant in the region. There’s already been some talk along those lines,” he says. – Valerie Pascoe

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All Fired

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energy

Up Energy industry generates jobs and revenue

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hen Fred Brown’s grandfather began buying oil wells in Limestone County’s legendary Mexia Field in 1935, the area already had the reputation of being an epicenter for energy resources, including oil and gas. Today, Brown Oil & Gas Co. still operates wells in the same fields and extracts an average of 250 barrels of oil a day. “We drill new wells occasionally due to demand,” Brown says. “The area is really booming, but natural gas is where most of the new drilling activity is taking place. Moving forward, that’s where things are taking off.” Across the Heart of Texas region, the future is bright for the energy industry as it continues to have a significant impact on the local economy.

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PROJECTS IN PROGRESS OR PLANNED In Freestone County, XTO Energy Inc. has a number of new natural gas drilling projects under way. In Limestone County, NRG Energy Inc. is adding an environmentally friendly unit to its electricity-generating station that is fueled by coal from Westmoreland Coal Co.’s nearby mine. According to Gary Mechler, general manager of NRG Energy’s Limestone County facility, construction of the new unit is expected to last about four years, employ more than 1,000 workers and represent an economic impact of more than $1 billion locally. “The state’s demand for power is growing rapidly, and we’re expanding to meet those needs,” Mechler says. “We currently

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energy

employ 250 people full time, and this expansion will add 90 new permanent jobs at the plant.” Also in Limestone County, Luminant, a subsidiary of TXU Corp., is developing a lignite coal mine near Kosse. The company already has a mine and a coal-fired power plant in Freestone County and two gas-fired plants in McLennan County. According to Luminant estimates, these facilities contribute nearly $220 million to the local economy. WHITHER FUTUREGEN? The omnipresence of energy resources in the Heart of Texas region has prompted the U.S. Department of Energy to select nearby Leon County as one of four finalists for FutureGen, a massive project to create what has been billed as the cleanest fossil-fuel-fired power plant on the planet. According to Kenneth L. Simons, executive director of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, the selection of Leon County for the FutureGen project would provide a considerable economic boost for adjacent Limestone and Freestone counties.

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“In addition to work generated by the $1.5 billion construction project, once the plant is up and running, it will have 150 employees from across the area and people coming in from all over the world to visit the site,” says Simons. Companies like NRG Energy would welcome the arrival of FutureGen because it would mean close proximity to some of the most advanced research in the energy industry. NRG Energy has announced it will donate access to 4,800 acre-feet per year of groundwater and 400 acres of land to support FutureGen operations, should Leon County be selected. The decision on FutureGen’s location was expected by the end of 2007. Other major power providers, including Atmos Energy Corp. and the McGregor-based Heart of Texas Electric Co-Op, also provide energy resources to businesses and consumers in the Heart of Texas region. – Valerie Pascoe

Energy is omnipresent in the Heart of Texas. From coal to oil to natural gas, the energy industry powers the local economy.

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education

Multiple

Choices

Heart of Texas region is a hub for higher education

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eeking a college degree? You’ve come to the right place. The Heart of Texas region is blessed with higher-education choices, ranging from community colleges to Baylor University, the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the state and the largest Baptist university in the world. Located on a 735-acre campus in Waco, Baylor offers 146 undergraduate degree programs, 73 master’s programs and 22 doctoral programs. The university’s growing enrollment exceeds 14,000, with students hailing from all 50 states and 70 countries. The university is halfway through a plan known as Baylor 2012 that seeks to place the school among the nation’s academic elite. “Baylor 2012 is an ambitious 10-year vision that seeks to move Baylor into a unique leadership position in higher

education by adding new faculty, facilities and programs that position us as the premier Protestant research university in the United States or the world,” says Dr. John M. Lilley, who was inaugurated as Baylor’s president in April 2007. The 2012 vision includes 12 imperatives for Baylor to become recognized as a top institution, covering topics including academic and scholarly initiatives, student life, campus expansion, the endowment, and athletics. Baylor has already made some significant strides relating to campus expansion and improvement. “One of the major commitments of the 10-year vision is the building of community, and in August (2007) we opened the new $42.8 million, 700-bed Brooks Village residential community,” Lilley says. “It will enhance the learning environment, move us toward a stronger residential campus, and help Baylor con-

The $103 million Baylor University Sciences Building is one of the newest and most attractive additions to the Waco campus. P H OTO B Y W E S A L D R I D G E

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Training Tomorrow’s Workforce Texas State Technical College’s four-college system, which includes the Waco campus, specializes in training for the technology, transportation and aviation fields. “We are proud of the fact that what we do is workforce education,” says Ron Sanders, interim vice president for student learning. For example, the college’s Federal Aviation Administrationcertified aviation program includes pilot training and aircraft maintenance. Sanders says the staff encourages students to earn an associate’s degree as well as the certificate, paving the way for a four-year degree. “We provide a first-class, technical education to people at an incredible bargain,” Sanders says. “It’s a good start for a great life.” Also in Waco, McLennan Community College offers vocational programs as well as arts and sciences studies to about 8,100 students on its 200-acre campus. The vocational programs include a police academy, fire academy, paralegal training, sign-language interpreter training and medical technology training. “We are working with the city to create a new facility for emergency response,” says Ricardo Solis, dean of workforce education. “We’re a community college that responds to the needs of the community. We view education as workforce investment and workforce investment as economic development for the region.” – Leanne Libby

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McGregor, Texas McGregor, Texas, a small central Texas community adjacent to Waco is a thriving community of 5,500 residents. Founded by Dr. McGregor in the late 1800s at the crossroads of the Cotton Belt and Santa Fe rail lines, McGregor has all of the attributes anyone could wish for; great weather, great resources and friendly folks. McGregor’s school system boasts one of the best in Texas, above average for the state and nation for the SAT and ACT exams, as well as bringing a cultural flavor with their plays, artistry and so forth. McLennan County Community College has a branch, and the Texas State Technical College also has a branch. Baylor University is just down the road in Waco, and six more colleges and universities are within easy commute. They all offer standard and advanced courses and specialized training as well. The Heart of Texas Workforce Board also offers special training and/or funds for individual corporate specialties.

The BNSF and Amtrack mainline runs through with a downtown depot (the Cotton Belt is no longer running). Interstate 35 is just 10 miles from McGregor via U.S. Highway 84, a four-lane divided highway that runs east and west. Waco Regional and Killeen Regional airports service the area with direct flights to Dallas, Houston, Austin and Atlanta. McGregor Executive and TSTC airports offer considerable land, training, avgas, jetA, approaches, as well as avionics and A/P services. The local labor force (250,000 area wide) is ready and willing to work. Fort Hood turns out approximately 1,500 veterans per month, most of whom desire to stay in the Central Texas area. McGregor had a blow to its economy with the closing of a Naval Weapons Reserve Base, but looked upon it as an opportunity to reinvent itself, turning the entire 9,700 acres into an industrial park. With full utilities, paved streets and a number of buildings, they began marketing the new “McGregor Industrial Park” for diversification of its industrial base. In a few short years it has attracted firms like Convergys McGregor Business Center, Ferguson Enterprises, Insituform Technologies, Trane A/C, Smead Manufacturing and Space Exploration Technologies. Not too bad for a small town in Central Texas! A major part of its ability to attract such Fortune 500 and other firms is McGregor’s sincere dedication and willingness to assist in the company’s needs. Incentives aside, and there are lots of them, the City of McGregor is ready and willing to listen to a company’s desires and try its best to fulfill them. Hence they have over 1,200 employees in their industrial park with 12 companies and 25 manufacturers in the city. Not too bad for a small town in Central Texas!


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tinue to attract and retain top students.” In 2004, Baylor opened another residential facility – this one with 600 beds – and completed the $103 million Baylor Sciences Building that was constructed in response to a national need for expanded science education and research. Among the Big 12 Conference schools, Baylor was the third-highest-rated by U.S. News & World Report magazine in 2007 and was ranked 75th overall among 248 national universities. “We know parents and prospective students pay attention to these rankings, and we are pleased the numbers reflect all the positive progress that is happening here at Baylor,” Lilley says. “But our success is truly measured by

our ability to recruit great students, retain them and provide them with an outstanding Christian education and excellent facilities.” COMMUNITY COLLEGE GROWTH Also in Waco, McLennan Community College is experiencing tremendous growth. In fall 2006, area voters approved a $74.4 million bond for the school to build three new facilities, including a science building, an Emergency Medical Technology Center and a University Center where students will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree through partnerships with four-year institutions. “More and more students are wanting

to come to MCC because it’s less expensive than other four-year institutions, and they can get a four-year degree right here on campus,” says Lisa Wilhelmi, MCC’s director of community relations. “Our campus was originally built for 3,500 students, and we had 8,100 students in fall 2007 – our highest enrollment ever.” Also in the region, Texas State Technical College-Waco, which has about 4,300 students, offers more than 100 associate’s degrees in everything from agriculture to health to information technology. Hill College, another two-year school, is in Hillsboro and has an enrollment of about 2,500. – Jessica Mozo

Education for Everyone AS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS STRIVE FOR ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE, EDUCATORS USE REGIONAL CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL TRAINING In the 19th century, Waco was known as Athens on the Brazos because it had blossomed as a center for education. Today, that striving for excellence remains the guiding principle for public and private schools in the area. The Waco Independent School District serves a diverse population of more than 15,000 students. “We have a heavy emphasis on college readiness,” says Superintendent Roland Hernandez. “We have partnerships with Princeton Review at the district’s expense.” Princeton Review is a company that specializes in educational preparation programs for students. The district is looking at implementing an International Baccalaureate program at all school levels, Hernandez says. “It’s a college-prep program with a thesis option and a community-service component,” he says. “It has international studies integrated into the curriculum.” Hernandez, now in his second year as superintendent, says “community support has been incredible. Everyone I come in contact with is trying to find as many ways as possible to get involved.” Partnerships with the community include the Waco ISD Education Foundation, which has awarded more than $645,000 in grants over the last 10 years to teachers and schools. A wide variety of private schools also is found in the area, and some are expanding rapidly as the overall population grows. For example, in its first three years

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of operation, Live Oak Classical School experienced a 225 percent increase in enrollment to 190 students in junior kindergarten through ninth grade. “There was obviously a desire in the community for a school that would provide a rigorous academic curriculum in a Christian atmosphere,” says Alison Moffatt, who heads the school. Upon moving to the area 11 years ago, Moffatt says she was impressed by her neighbors’ strong sense of civic duty – a commitment that led to the school’s recent adoption of service projects to encourage the same values in students. And when area teachers and school administrators want to take lessons themselves, they often turn to Education Service Center Region 12. The center serves 77 school districts, 11 charter schools and area private schools from its Waco headquarters, plus five satellite offices. In addition to certification programs for teachers and principals, it offers paraprofessional academies and a substitute teacher course. “We are professional educators, providing these services and having direct relationships with the districts,” says school spokeswoman Jennifer Marshall-Higgins. During summer months, the center holds conferences on topics such as student behavior and autism. It also partners with Baylor University and local businesses for job fairs and career days. – Leanne Libby

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health care

The Prognosis

Is Positive Patients benefit from expanded health-care facilities and services

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roviding quality medical care is a time-honored tradition in Central Texas. The Scott & White health system was founded in 1897, Providence Healthcare Network was born in 1905 and Hillcrest Health System was established in 1920. The three providers feature a continuum of services, and all are devoted to meeting patients’ changing needs with upto-date facilities and expanded services. Providence Healthcare Network, part of the national Ascension Health system, operates Providence Health Center, which traces its roots to Waco’s first hospital, founded in 1905. Providence Health Center relocated to a

new medical campus in 1989. Since 2005, Providence Health Center has been undergoing a $48.5 million expansion that will boost the number of beds in several departments. Emergency department beds, for instance, will increase from 26 to 50. Other additions will include a 30-bed cardiac nursing unit and an expanded congestive-heart-failure clinic. “This expansion will give us the capacity to accommodate future growth,” says Kent Keahy, president and chief executive officer of Providence Healthcare Network. “Our utilization has been increasing steadily for the past 15 to 20 years.” When construction is finished in early 2008 and the new

Providence Health Center occupies an expanded, $48.5 million complex off Loop 340 in Waco.

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facilities are open, Providence will have 262 acute-care beds and 341 long-term care beds. Two empty floors will be available for future build-out. Providence Healthcare Network includes Providence Park, a community for independent living, assisted living and longterm care; Providence Home Care; De Paul Center, the psychiatric and substance-abuse treatment division; clinics; and Providence Health Alliance, a health-care network. MORE CONSTRUCTION UNDER WAY Situated on the highest point in McLennan County, Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center has undergone numerous renovations over the years. Now, to better accommodate patients’ needs, Hillcrest is building a new hospital on 74 acres off Interstate 35 and Loop 340 in Waco. Increased accessibility is vital to Hillcrest, which has the only Level II trauma center in the six-county Heart of Texas region as well as a Level III neonatal intensive care unit. “Residents depend on Hillcrest for emergency and trauma care, which often results from vehicle accidents,” says Adam Price, media relations coordinator. “Being more centrally located means patients have easier access to Hillcrest physicians and services.” Hillcrest broke ground for the $184 million, 230-bed hospital in August 2007. Scheduled for completion in summer 2009, the new campus will include a community hospital, a women’s and children center, and medical offices. The original location will house 100 beds for the Fentress Cancer Center, the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center and other services. In addition to the hospital, Hillcrest Health System has a network of nine primary-care clinics, known as Hillcrest Family Health Centers, and Hillcrest Physicians Services, a multi-specialty physician group. Glenn A. Robinson, named president and CEO of Hillcrest Health System in August 2007, is excited about the new hospital. “I’ve seen time and again how new buildings and expanded services breathe life into employees, physicians and the community as a whole,” he says. “The opportunity of opening a brand-new facility with the technology and design of the caliber of this project is very attractive. But, as we all know, health care is more than bricks and mortar – it’s the people, the mission, the vision and, above all, the values.” HEALTH PLAN EXPANDS Staying on the cutting edge has been the hallmark of Scott & White, the largest multidisciplinary medical group in Texas. Of Scott & White’s 19 regional clinics, three are in Waco, as is an OB/GYN specialty clinic. In addition, Scott & White offers a health plan serving more than 200,000 members, and recently it announced plans to sign up Hillcrest health-care providers, according to Scott Clark, media and public relations coordinator for Scott & White. The 636-bed Scott & White Memorial Hospital, which includes a children’s hospital, is located in Temple, just south of the Heart of Texas region. In 2007, Solucient – an information products company serving the health-care industry – recognized Scott & White as one of the nation’s 100 best hospitals for the fourth consecutive year. – Pam George

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Caring for Vets WACO VA HOSPITAL PROVIDES MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR RETURNING TROOPS For more than 75 years, the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center has had a formidable presence in Waco. Indeed, when it first opened – during the early part of the Great Depression – many saw the hospital as an economic godsend. Today, the hospital is going strong, employing about 800 people. “It is one of the major employers in Waco,” says Nelia Schrum, public affairs officer for the Temple-based Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. It was not always that way. Several years ago, the VA hospital survived the threat of closure as part of nationwide restructuring. Waco government officials, the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, residents and VA groups rebelled, stressing that Texas has the third-largest population of veterans in the country. The hospital’s proximity to Fort Hood – a major hub for soldiers going to and from Iraq and Afghanistan – stood in its favor. So did the hospital’s focus. “We are largely a psychiatric facility,” Schrum says. The hospital was founded in 1932 to serve veterans suffering from nervous or mental disabilities. (The hospital also has a blind rehabilitation unit.) Demand for mental health services has increased as troops have returned from overseas deployments. Post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries caused by explosive devices are to blame, Schrum says. In 2006, the hospital was named a “center for excellence” for mental health research and care.It is currently enhancing services for posttraumatic stress disorder and brain injuries, as well as mood disorders. The Neuropsychiatry Research Program in Waco and at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System’s other hospital in Temple has established a clinical research center to explore the root causes of PTSD and developmental stress disorders, such as depression. In Marlin, the VA operated a hospital until 2002. The building then was used as a community clinic for several years before closing. State Sen. Kip Averitt recently acquired funds to add security features so that the 56-year-old hospital can become a medical facility for female prisoners. In late 2007, the transfer of ownership to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was in progress. – Pam George

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quality of life

Welcome

Home

Affordability, livability and accessibility make the region an attractive choice

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appealing, Schroeder says. “We get a lot of retirees who come here because their kids are in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or Austin, and they want to be central to their grandchildren,” Schroeder adds. Residents get out and about to enjoy sports events at Baylor, recreation at lakes Waco and Whitney, galleries, museums, performances at the historic Hippodrome Theatre and regional attractions such as the Bosque Conservatory. Not only is the lifestyle appealing, but the price is right. Schroeder says in the first six months of 2007, the average price for a new, four-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot in Waco was $221,000, and the median price was $220,500. For an existing home of the same size, the average was $200,264; the median, $205,000.

‘JUST THE RIGHT SIZE’ That, it turns out, is a prevalent view here. “We have a lot of Baylor students who come from all over the country – and they stay,” says Kathy Schroeder, vice president of residential services for Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors in Waco. “People just like the quality of life here compared with the hustle and bustle of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston,” Schroeder says. “We’re just the right size – just over 200,000 population in McLennan County. We get the chain restaurants and the businesses, but we’re still a small enough town that you’re going to see people you know – the people you go to church or go to school with.” Outside the Waco city limits, suburban Hewitt, population 12,600, earned spot No. 44 on Money magazine’s 2007 list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States. In addition to young families, retirees find the Heart of Texas region very

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he word is out: Affordable housing, a moderate climate, lots to do and friendly people make the Heart of Texas a great place to call home. Theresa Edgington, assistant professor of information systems at Baylor University, moved to the area in 2006 from Phoenix. “I had never been to Waco before interviewing with Baylor,” Edgington says. “When I came to the area, I was surprised. Waco itself is an amazing small town. From what I’ve seen, I can’t think of a better place that a family could have to raise children.” Edgington says she and her husband, who works in Austin and Phoenix, were looking for a home in central Texas that would be geographically convenient for both of them. “It’s a good environment – the people around here are just incredible. I think [the city] is large enough that you have most of whatever you really need,” Edgington says.

Imperial Estates is a subdivision in Hewitt, which earned a spot on Money magazine’s 2007 list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States.

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MILESTONE PASSED The commercial market also is healthy, says Jon Spelman, a commercial real estate broker with 30 years’ experience. “The commercial market is strong,” says Spelman, owner of Jon W. Spelman Co. “You only have to drive by the corner of Highway 6 and Interstate 35 to see some of the vibrancy and things happening: the (Central Texas MarketPlace) shopping center, hotels and the $184 million Hillcrest Health System hospital project. “We saw things turn in the commercial real estate business in about 1992 or 1993,” Spelman says. “When the 1990 census hit and our community passed 100,000 and the trade area passed 200,000, we came on people’s radar screens for major restaurants and certain kinds of retailers. We’ve been busy since that time.” – Anne Gillem

HEART OF TEXAS


Alive With the Arts HIPPODROME THEATRE CLAIMS ITS FAME

The Waco Hippodrome Theatre boasts a lineup reminiscent of Broadway.

With a stellar lineup of Broadway shows at Waco’s historic Hippodrome Theatre, classicalmusic concerts, and an abundance of galleries and museums, it’s clear this part of central Texas has a heart for the arts. The Broadway lineup produced very strong season ticket sales, evidence of the Hippodrome’s resurgence that has been guided by the Waco Performing Arts Co., which operates the theater. “The 2007-08 season offers shows that … appeal to everyone,” says Scott Baker, executive director of the Waco Performing Arts Co. Restoration of the 94-year-old structure is ongoing. “The best thing we can do to honor the history of the Hippodrome is to keep people coming in the doors for the same

purposes the building was originally designed for – live theatrical performances,” Baker says. Another performing-arts venue is Waco Hall on the Baylor University Campus. The Waco Symphony Orchestra’s 2007-08 season there will include a performance by legendary singer-songwriter Art Garfunkel. The city also has the Waco Civic Theatre, Lyric Opera, Mayhorn Museum, Art Center Waco, Texas Ranger Museum, Dr Pepper Museum, Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Cameron Park Zoo. Outside Waco, cultural attractions include the Bosque Conservatory in Clifton, Old Fort Parker State Historical Park in Limestone County and Texas Heritage Museum in Hillsboro. – Anne Gillem

Fine Location for Recreation EXERCISE ENTHUSIASTS HIT THEIR STRIDE IN WACO Head outdoors for fitness and fun in the Heart of Texas region, and you’ll run out of daylight before you run out of things to do. From tennis, golf and fishing to the natural beauty of trails, lakes, the Brazos River and parks, recreational opportunities abound. The region’s moderate climate ensures most options are available year-round. Golf enthusiasts enjoy Waco’s 10 courses and others in the region. And the nationally acclaimed Waco Regional Tennis & Fitness Center has 18 outdoor lighted courts and hosts many tournaments. The Waco Department of Parks & Recreation oversees activities at facilities including 416-acre Cameron Park with its mountain biking and walking trails. “Cameron Park would make you think you are driving along mountain roads in Colorado,” says Rusty Black, department director. “Every weekend, there are folks who come up here and ride – beginners, intermediate and advanced.”

HEART OF TEXAS

Lakes Waco and Whitney, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, offer boating, fishing and swimming, as well as camping. Facilities at both lakes were hit hard by flooding in 2007, but repairs are under way. – Anne Gillem

Lake Whitney is a central Texas oasis for anglers and boaters.

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retail & restaurants

Wind in

Their Sales Retail flourishes as new shops open

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one are the days when a serious shopping expedition meant a trip to Dallas or Austin. Retailing in the Heart of Texas is booming, from elegant specialty shops to big-box discount stores. Local retail sales have been climbing steadily over the past few years, topping $3 billion in 2006. And it’s a good bet that the future will bring still more retail growth to Waco and vicinity. “The retail climate here is very, very good,” says Zoe Lopez, property manager of Central Texas MarketPlace, one of the area’s newest and most popular shopping destinations. MarketPlace, a 700,000-square-foot open-air center at the intersection of I-35 and Loop 340, was acquired by Inland Real Estate at the end of 2006 and has expanded rapidly since then with the addition of four stores, with more in the works. “We have something for just about every customer, whether on the discount side or the upscale side,” Lopez says. “The key is having the right mix of tenants.” MarketPlace stores include Belk, Kohl’s, Ross, Old Navy, Jos. A. Bank, Ann Taylor and Marshall’s. Enhancing MarketPlace’s appeal is the new Legends Crossing mixed-use development that is under construction in the same neighborhood. When completed, the 250-acre Legends Crossing, marketed by the Triliji Group, will boast a seven-acre lake, walking trail, hotels, restaurants, office space and Hillcrest Health Systems. DOWNTOWN, AROUND TOWN Even as new stores spring up around the area, a veteran of Waco’s retail sector continues to flourish. “We opened in 1980, and we’ve been doing great for a long time,” says Brad King, marketing director for the Richland Mall on West Waco Drive, a CBL

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Properties enclosed mall. Richland’s 720,000 square feet house more than 100 stores. King attributes the retail boom to Waco’s location. “We’re right on I-35 between Dallas and Austin, and companies want to set up shop here.” Downtown, shoppers flock to the River Square Center, where refurbished warehouse buildings contain a variety of interesting shops and restaurants. (See story, page 37.) Elsewhere around town, shops on Austin Avenue, Bosque Boulevard, New Road and Valley Mills Drive include everything from big-box home improvement warehouses to smaller retail outlets. ENERGIZING CHANGES In Bellmead, just north of Waco, BH Properties of Los Angeles bought and renovated the 110,000-square-foot Eastgate shopping center in 2007, giving the 40-year-old complex a new lease on life. The Prime Outlets Mall in Hillsboro also has undergone an energizing change in ownership. Now owned by Craig Realty Group and renamed Outlets at Hillsboro, the 95-store center has long been a boon to that city. “People just associate Hillsboro with the outlet center,” says Robert Watts, executive director of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce. “The amount of traffic it generates has helped the development of dining establishments here and leads people to experience other parts of Hillsboro. It’s also our largest employer, with 350-plus jobs. And the sales tax revenue is important to us.” – Laura Hill Retail centers such as Central Texas MarketPlace in Waco have experienced marked growth over the last several years.

HEART OF TEXAS


P H OTO S B Y W E S A L D R I D G E

Downtown Waco’s skyline is changing as revitalization projects multiply.

This Downtown Is on the Rebound PUBLIC AND PRIVATE DOLLARS ARE REVITALIZING WACO’S CENTRAL CORE An influx of upscale eateries, merchants and apartments is more evidence of downtown Waco’s renaissance, which is being spurred by both public and private capital. In May 2007, the city’s voters showed their support for revitalization of the 60block downtown Public Improvement District. They approved a $63 million bond issue that included renovations to the Central Library and Texas Ranger Museum, a new fire station, improvements in Cameron Park, and a $17.5 million overhaul of the Waco Convention Center. “It’s great that the city is behind it, and we’ll see a lot of improvements come from this, but it’s always a good thing to bring in outside money because that means new revenues,” says Melette Harrison, the city’s economic development program coordinator. Adjacent to the convention center, the Hilton hotel is undergoing its own $17 million facelift. Nearby, the $60 million Waco Town Square project will mix retail, offices and student housing –

HEART OF TEXAS

doubling the number of downtown residential units. Already completed is River Square Center, which involved reconfiguring a former warehouse into trendy shops, restaurants and offices. “The more you recruit people to live in the downtown area, the more you can attract additional businesses, particularly retail and restaurants,” Harrison says. Also in the works is a new headquarters of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce at Heritage Square. And a newly organized Downtown Merchants Association is providing input for additional ways to enhance the area. Chris Matthews, a member of the Public Improvement District board, renovated an abandoned two-story department store, circa 1895, into The Palladium banquet hall with an upstairs residence. He says the project provided him with an 8,000-square-foot home he couldn’t have bought elsewhere for the same price. Such projects tend to attract other developers, Matthews adds. “They see it and a little light bulb goes off in their heads.” – Kelli Levey

Eat, Drink and Be Merry LOCAL EATERIES HIGH ON YUM SCALE Like many growing areas, the Heart of Texas offers the hungry any number of familiar chain restaurants. But if you’re in search of much-loved, locally owned dining spots, you’ve come to the right place. The Cactus Grill enjoys an enviable location facing the Bosque County Courthouse square in Meridian. The popular eatery’s menu includes steaks, Cornish game hens, seafood and Southwestern cuisine. Boss Hog’s Bar B Que and Burgers in Marlin was named one of Texas Monthly magazine’s top 50 barbecue restaurants. Sam’s Original Restaurant in Fairfield traces its roots to Samuel Augustus Daniel, who quit grade school to sell hamburgers. He opened a barbecue stand in 1960, and the rest is history. Today, Sam’s buffet is hard to beat, with choices such as fried or barbecued chicken, beef enchiladas, black eyed peas and peach cobbler. – Laura Hill

Vanilla flan with caramel sauce at the Cactus Grill in Meridian

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economic profile development sales tax of 0.5%. The local sales tax and property taxes vary.

ECONOMIC PROFILE BUSINESS CLIMATE The Heart of Texas region is strategically positioned for business, with its proximity to Mexico, excellent infrastructure, skilled and trainable workforce, and pro-business business climate. There is affordable, customized workforce training available through local colleges.

TRANSPORTATION Waco is the largest city in the region. It is equidistant between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth (about 100 miles to either), with easy access to San Antonio (160 miles) and Houston (180) miles.

HIGHWAYS Interstates 35 and 45 run through the region.

Waco Regional Airport www.waco-texas.com (866) FLYWACO (359-9226) Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, www.ci.austin.tx.us/ austinairport/, (512) 530-2242 Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, www.dfwairport.com (972) 973-5100 George Bush Intercontinental Airport, www.fly2houston.com (281) 230-3100

RAIL Burlington Northern Santa Fe www.bnsf.com, (888) 428-2673 Union Pacific, www.up.com (402) 544-5000 Amtrak (Texas Eagle) www.texaseagle.com

Taxes as a percentage of personal income, 4.42%.

PORTS Port of Shreveport/Bossier, La. www.portsb.com, (318) 524-2272

State taxes per $1,000 of personal income, $44.18

Port of Houston www.portofhouston.com (713) 670-2400

OTHER STATES’ TAXES AS A PERCENTAGE OF PERSONAL INCOME

CITIES/COUNTIES

Oklahoma, 6.59% Louisiana, 7.69% Arkansas, 8.77%

Bellmead Hewitt Lacy-Lakeview Marlin Mexia Robinson Waco Woodway

BOSQUE COUNTY Population 17,204 (U.S. Census 2000) 18,058 (U.S. Census 2006 estimate) Cities and towns Clifton (largest city), Cranfills Gap, Kopperl, Iredell, Meridian (county seat), Morgan, Valley Mills, Walnut Springs

Bosque Falls Freestone Hill Limestone McLennan

Meridian Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 758, Meridian, TX 76665 (254) 435-2966 www.meridianchamber.com

TAXES Texas is a pro-business state with low taxes and no personal or state corporate income tax. Texas state sales tax is 6.25%, with an additional economic

First Community Bank www.firstcommunity bank.net Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce www.wacochamber.com Jack-of-all-Trades McLennan Community College Texas State Technical Colleges www.tstc.edu Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau www.wacocvb.com

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COUNTY INFORMATION

COUNTIES

VISIT OUR ADVERTISERS

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Texas per capita income, $32,462

CITIES

AIR

Baylor University www.baylor.edu Bosque County www.bosquecounty.us City of Groesbeck www.groesbecktexas.org City of Hillsboro www.hillsborotx.org City of McGregor www.mcgregor-texas.com City of Moody www.moody.com City of Rosebud www.rosebudtx.org City of Wortham www.worthamtx.com

2005 STATE TAX COMPARISON

Clifton Chamber of Commerce 115 N. Ave. Clifton, TX 76634 (254) 675-3720 www.cliftontexas.org

I spy something green. Everyday moments can be learning moments with your kids. For more tips, visit bornlearning.org

HEART OF TEXAS


FALLS COUNTY Population 18,576 (U.S. Census 2000) 17,547 (U.S. Census 2006 estimate) Cities and towns Bruceville-Eddy, Chilton, Golinda, Lott, Marlin (county seat), Rosebud, Tomlinson Hill, Westphalia Marlin Chamber of Commerce 245 Coleman St. Marlin, TX 76661 (254) 803-3301 or (254) 883-2171 (fax) www.marlintexas.com

FREESTONE COUNTY www.co.freestone.tx.us Population 17,867 (U.S. Census 2000) 18,803 (U.S Census 2006 estimate) Cities and towns Dew, Fairfield (county seat), Kirvin, Oakwood, Streetman, Teague, Wortham Fairfield Chamber of Commerce 900 West Commerce Fairfield, TX 75840 (903) 389-5792 or (903) 389-8382 (fax) www.fairfieldtx.com

LIMESTONE COUNTY www.co.limestone.tx.us Population 22,051 (U.S. Census 2000) 22,720 (U.S. Census 2006 estimate) Cities and towns Coolidge, Groesbeck (county seat), Kosse, Mexia, Tehuacana, Thornton Groesbeck Chamber of Commerce 110 North Ellis St. (254) 729-3894 www.groesbecktexas.org

McLENNAN COUNTY Population 213,517 (U.S. Census 2000) 226,189 (U.S Census 2006 estimate) Cities and towns Bellmead, Beverly Hills, Bruceville-Eddy, China Spring, Crawford, Elm Mott, Gholson, Hallsburg, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Leroy, Lorena, Mart, McGregor, Moody, Riesel, Robinson, Ross, Valley Mills, Waco (county seat), West, Woodway Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce 900 Washington Ave. Waco, TX 76701 (254) 752-6551 or (254) 752-6618 (fax) www.wacochamber.com

HILL COUNTY www.co.hill.tx.us Population 32,321 (U.S. Census 2000) 35,806 (U.S. Census 2006 estimate) Cities and towns Abbott, Aquilla, Blum, Bowman Community, Bynum, Carlâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Corner, Covington, Hillsboro (county seat), Hubbard, Itasca, Malone, Mertens, Mount Calm, Penelope, Whitney Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce 115 N. Covington Hillsboro, TX 76645 (254) 582-2481 or (254) 582-0465 (fax) www.hillsborochamber.org

HEART OF TEXAS

FOR MORE INFORMATION Heart of Texas Council of Governments 1514 S. New Road Waco, TX 76711 Phone: (254) 292-1800 Fax: (254) 756-0102 www.hotcog.org

SOURCES: http://quickfacts.census.gov www.fairfieldtx.com www.groesbecktexas.org www.hillsborochamber.org www.hotcog.org www.longviewedc.com www.wacochamber.com

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Lacy Lakeview: City on the Move

Commerce on the Upswing New retail centers add to city路s business mix

Making Strides $9.5 million bond issue paves way for school improvements

Celebrating Along the Chisholm Trail Special Advertising Section


Lacy Lakeview

Commerce

on the Upswing

MAJOR NEW RETAIL CENTERS WILL ADD TO THE CITY’S BUSINESS MIX

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development commission.” The commission was charged with learning about abatement policies and the other nuts and bolts of sensible economic development – an important move to promote the city’s strengths and competitive edge. The city also hired an economic development consultant, Mike Barnes, to meet with potential developers and steer the city in the right direction. Barnes’ experience has significantly helped move Lacy Lakeview toward its development goals, Nicoletti says. The Lacy Lakeview City Council

played a major role, having the foresight to expand on the city’s infrastructure to make future growth possible. Lacy Lakeview already has several economic development successes to its credit, including attracting BlueCross BlueShield into a former Kmart building in town. That $2 million project also brought 300 employees and paved the way for other large-scale, beneficial projects, Nicoletti says. The current focus has been on two major projects that are already in progress. N3 Development Ltd., a developer out of Fort Worth, is building out a

PHOTOS BY WES ALDRIDGE

fter years of behind-thescenes work, Lacy Lakeview’s economic development efforts are paying off in a big way. Two major retail developments soon will break ground, and each is expected to add significantly to the city’s growing roster of businesses. “We’ve been working on this for a number of years,” says Michael Nicoletti, Lacy Lakeview’s city manager. “It’s been a team effort. The city has been trying to get people interested in Lacy Lakeview in terms of business, and a couple of years ago we created an economic

Several retail stores, restaurants, a bank, pharmacy and other shops are on tap for this 30-acre parcel of land. Special Advertising Section


City on the Move

30-acre parcel at Interstate 35 and Lakeshore Drive, which, when finished, will contain several retail stores, restaurants, a bank, pharmacy and other shops, Nicoletti says. The other retail center will sit on 65 acres in a newly annexed section on the city’s north side. It will be built by developer Tika Cheema, who is giving the city a portion of the acreage for a new civic center. “He hopes to build a hotel there that would tie into the civic center once that project gets going,” Nicoletti says. Advocates of planned growth know that new projects often spur additional growth, and the city continues to move forward with overtures to potential business partners. It’s also ramping up communications with the Lacy Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and the Connally Independent School District.

“We’ve gotten our public works department involved, as well as the chamber and the school district,” Nicoletti says. “All economic development has an impact on everybody, so it has to be a collaboration of people – not only to discuss what our needs are and how to get those businesses here, but also what the impact will be on all the services we have.” To that end, the city commissioned a poll of residents to see what kind of goods and services they would like to see come into the city, and it also tapped the city’s major employers for their thoughts. At the same time, Lacy Lakeview is benefiting from growth in nearby Waco. The Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn hotels in Lacy Lakeview have been ranked first and second in the county for occupancy. “Waco to our north has been experiencing a huge economic boom, and a

lot of retailers have already had a good look at us,” Nicoletti says. “We’ve had traffic studies done here in town, and those numbers are appealing. We definitely have the numbers here to support more development.” This special section is published for the City of Lacy Lakeview by Journal Communications Inc.

For more information, contact: City of Lacy Lakeview 501 E. Craven • Waco, TX 76705 Phone: (254) 799-2458 • Fax: (254) 799-6265 www.lacylakeview.org ©Copyright 2007 Journal Communications Inc. 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400 Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080 All rights reserved. No portion of this special advertising section may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. On the Cover: Veterans Memorial Park Photo by Wes Aldridge

Big-City Services With a Small-Town Feel

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acy Lakeview is proud of its small-town feel, and nowhere is that more evident than in the services it provides to residents. “We’re all about quality of life,” says City Manager Michael Nicoletti. “I think a lot of cities lose focus of what their communities want and what types of services they should offer.” Community policing is a prime example. A 15-year veteran of Waco’s police force prior to his current position, Nicoletti says that a community side of law enforcement often gets lost in larger cities. “In a bigger city, you’re not going to have a police officer show up at someone’s door to help them change light bulbs in a ceiling fixture,” he says. “But you’re going to get exactly that in Lacy Lakeview.” The city’s size – around 5,600 people – also means that shared information and combined efforts arethe norm. “We try to help our residents first, then work out the jurisdictional stuff later,” Nicoletti says. The city also differentiates itself from its larger neighbors in the public works arena by offering full-time brush pick-up services. “We have a two-man crew that runs daily,” Nicoletti says. “You wouldn’t think that would be a big issue, but it is. People really like the service, so we’re continuing to provide it on a full-time basis.” The Lacy Lakeview City Council helped set a tone of pride for the city by initiating several beautification projects – Veterans Memorial Park, Live Oak Park, the Stanfield-Walker Cemetery renovation and the Loop 340 city welcome area, to name a few. These

improvements have enhanced the community as a whole while inspiring residents and businesses to spruce up their own homes and office buildings, Nicoletti says. City officials are able to stay on top of the community’s wants and needs by communicating with residents through a Web site or survey-style letters mailed to homes. “We are very proactive,” Nicoletti says. “We ask people what services they’d like to see, and what we can do to improve what we’ve got.” When the city was trying to get more people on board the city’s recycling program, a Girl Scout troop went door to door offering information about the effort. “We have a true collaboration here, which is very unusual,” Nicoletti says. “You can’t go into many communities and see the city, the chamber of commerce and the school district working so closely together.”

Excellent quality of life is a priority for the city’s officials.

www.lacylakeview.org


Lacy Lakeview

Charting a Course for

Success

COMMUNITY SUPPORT DRIVES CONNALLY ISD

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ometimes a parent meeting in the Connally Independent School District is more like a class reunion. Students’ parents or other family members are often graduates of the same schools, and those close ties translate into a community that’s plugged into its schools – with very positive results. “We definitely have that small-town, community feel,” says Deanna Lovesmith, director of curriculum for Connally ISD. “A lot of our kids grow up going to school together because our different schools all feed into each other. Some kids know each other from kindergarten

all the way up through high school.” And just how involved do Connally alumni stay? Well, all seven school board members are Connally ISD graduates. The district, which was created in 1951, serves students in Lacy Lakeview, Gholson, Elm Mott, Lincoln City, Chalk Bluff and Waco. About 2,600 K-12 students attend school at Connally Primary, Connally Elementary, Connally Intermediate Center, Connally Junior High, Connally High and the Elm Mott Center. The district also operates Lakeview Academy, an alternative school for students in middle and high school. The district’s active community participation means that when the

The Connally Independent School System’s mascot is the Connally Cadet.

Making Major Strides for Schools G

ood schools are getting even better in the Connally Independent School District. With the recent voter approval of a $9.8 million bond issue, the district is set to begin a long list of projects ranging from a brand-new facility to security cameras and covered doorways. “Our communities really support us,” says Deanna Lovesmith, director of curriculum. “They believe in these projects, and they have always supported us in addressing our needs.” The biggest single item on the list is a new, multipurpose facility that will house both distancelearning opportunities and extracurricular activities. Other new construction will include a new maintenance barn, additions to the high school for new office space, and an overhaul of the football stadium that will include new restrooms, concession stands and a ticket booth. On a smaller but equally important scale, the

district will be placing security cameras and door security access on all campuses, adding awnings at the primary school, repairing roofs, and replacing HVAC units across the district. With the construction projects, every campus will receive some type of improvement. “The bond issue gave us an opportunity to evaluate our facilities and provide improvements that should put our facilities in good shape,” says Superintendent Keith Boles. “We are always looking at our facilities, and we might need to do something should our population increase, but for now, we feel that we are meeting our needs,” Lovesmith adds. “With the new multipurpose building, we’re going to be able to add more programs and distance learning, so we’re improving our instruction capabilities that way.” The building projects are expected to be completed by June of 2008.

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City on the Move

The View From Above TEAM CONSISTENTLY WINS TOP HONORS

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schools need improvement, they have a receptive audience to meet their needs. Case in point is the recent voter approval of a $9.8 million bond issue, allowing the district to begin a long list of improvements. “We’ve got really strong community support,” Superintendent Keith Boles says. “And it’s not just parents. The businesses in our community really support programs like Student of the Month, and they work with our parents on the community district improvement committees. We’re really very lucky in terms of all the support we receive.” The district is always looking forward in terms of physical enhancements and classroom needs. Because its student population has remained relatively stable in recent years, planning can be done for multiyear periods, Boles says. “We really know what’s coming our way in terms of our students, and so we’re able to focus on that,” Lovesmith says. “Right now, our main focus is instruction. We have a new superintendent, Keith Boles, and he is really working with our entire district to focus on students’ success and student achievement.” That means staying on top of state and federal achievement standards, all of which are being met in the district. It also means ensuring that students get plenty of attention outside the classroom. “We’re focusing on everything from our academic programs to after-school tutoring for our struggling learners – and we’re also looking at how our kids are performing on the SAT and ACT tests and in the AP courses,” Lovesmith says. “We want to make sure they’re getting ready for college. We are always looking at the success of the whole child, both academically and in terms of extracurricular activities.”

igh school football may rule in Texas, but there’s plenty of competition inside the classroom – and the Connally High School UIL team reigns supreme in that arena. UIL, or University Interscholastic League, pits scholars against each other in 22 different academic contests. In its district, the Connally High team has routinely taken home top honors since 1985, including an unbroken string of wins since 2004. In fact, the team has won the overall competition by anywhere from 100 to more than 200 points. “This is a very important academic competition, and we often have kids involved in both,” says Joe Crownover, Connally High School’s principal. “We have anywhere from 45 to 60 kids involved.” UIL categories include accounting, ready writing, prose interpretation, poetry interpretation, literacy criticism, spelling/ vocabulary, social studies, science, current events, cross-examination debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, persuasive speaking, informative speaking, editorial writing, feature writing, headline writing, news writing, calculator applications, mathematics, number sense, computer applications and computer science. Mary Kirkpatrick, who teaches communications, applications and debate at Connally High, has been the team’s forensics coach since 1994. For her, the winning formula has always been fairly simple: Everybody’s on the same page. “We are consistently successful because the sponsors work as a team, are dedicated to recruiting and keeping competitive students, have a winning tradition and have full support for administrators and the school board,” she says. After winning in the district, Connally High students move to the state-level competitions, where they consistently do well. Beyond competition, the UIL program gives the district another way to prepare its students for life after high school, Crownover says. “We really do try to reflect the whole child. We participate in UIL from elementary school on up, and we have individual winners across the district, so it’s not just the high school team,” he says. “But they do win it just about every year.”

Back row from left: Principal Joe Crownover, Andrew Cantrell, Emily Matus, Robbie Lott, UIL Coordinator Mary Kirkpatrick, Troy Baker. Front row from left: Genetra Grayson, Mandy McCarty, Patience Davis, Amber Davis and Jennifer Lavallee. www.lacylakeview.org


Lacy Lakeview

Growing & Changing With the Times

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TEAMWORK DRIVES CHAMBER’S SUCCESS “Our community couldn’t survive without a good school district, and businesses are willing to contribute to that,” Ash says. “I think one of our biggest successes as a chamber is the amount of help we’ve been able to give the schools. We’ve been really able to get the businesses, the schools and the community interacting.” The chamber also makes the most of its good working relationship with city officials, partnering with them on several community projects and events. The goal, Ash says, is to work with as many people and organizations as possible on two fronts – preserving the city’s history and heritage, and promoting growth for the future of our area. “Our community is becoming more aware and involved with what’s going on here,” she says. “More people are paying attention to that team effort; therefore, everybody gets involved.” Going forward, the chamber will be working on a range of projects, including enhanced lighting and security measures along the Highway 77 corridor, historical markers and other efforts on the Chisholm Trail, and retaining the history of James Connally Air Force Base. But every project will have one thing in common – collaboration. “Our chamber’s success is largely due to the working relationships we have with the city and the schools,” Ash says. “All three entities strive to make our community one that stands out among others, and I think that’s the key to our success.”

WES ALDRIDGE

he Lacy Lakeview Chamber of Commerce began in 1997 with strong leadership. Members consisting of businesses and individuals in the community partnered with the City of Lacy Lakeview and Connally Independent School District to establish a strong and wellorganized team. Over the years, the chamber has increased in membership from 35-40 members to more than 130 members, with an average of more than half the membership present at each monthly meeting. This degree of participation has allowed the chamber to take on a new vision. “We are very pleased with the growth and participation,” says Rosa Ash, who serves as the chamber’s secretary and treasurer. “I attribute it to the good working relationship between the city, the chamber and the school system. When the community sees that degree of teamwork, they want to jump on board.” The Connally ISD has been a big beneficiary of the chamber since the outset, with such high-profile efforts as the Student of the Month and scholarship programs getting businesses involved at each campus. The chamber has also launched a mini-grant program, allowing reading, languagearts and math-science teachers to apply for funds targeted at specific projects or classroom initiatives. The chamber anticipates this project will flourish in the coming years because teachers are an asset to the future.

From left, Superintendent Keith Boles, Chamber President Jim Lambert and City Manager Michael Nicoletti Special Advertising Section


City on the Move

Ready for Action in Times of Need COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS ARE STANDING BY

R

esponse teams are ready to swing into action should a natural disaster or other emergency tear through Lacy Lakeview. The Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, consists of community members who have undergone special training from the city’s police and fire departments.

Basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations are covered in the comprehensive training. Lacy Lakeview is known for its can-do approach to emergency assistance. In September 2005, the Lacy Lakeview Chamber of Commerce was asked to help during Hurricane Rita. Within an hour, 12 local businesses and 49 volunteers responded to the request with evacuee shelter operations. In summer 2007, CERT’s 20-hour training program graduated 29 volunteers, with more signing up for the next sessions in February 2008. The chamber has worked to make sure its member businesses take part.

“We suggested that some businesses might consider giving comp time, or time with pay, to individuals who wanted to participate in the training,” Ash says. “We’ve had a lot who did that, as well as many individuals who just wanted to participate on their own.” While no one wants a major catastrophe to activate the team, Lacy Lakeview is ready to go if necessary. And the community’s interest in the program is one example of how giving Lacy Lakeview can be. “We have more on our team than Waco does, and they’re much larger than we are,” Ash says. “We’re a small community, but Lacy Lakeview strives to stand out among others as an involved, prepared and welltrained community.

Members of Lacy Lakeview’s CERT take part in a training program.

Celebrating Along the Chisholm Trail

T

he holiday season is always special, but Lacy Lakeview’s big parade and merry gatherings in Veterans Memorial Park make for an especially memorable family time. The Old-Fashioned Christmas Along the Chisholm Trail incorporates many holiday festivities, including the ever-growing Christmas parade – an event that features dozens of entries from organizations and attractions in and around Lacy Lakeview. As the city works to highlight the history of the Chisholm Trail that meanders through the area – and to promote its popular Veterans Memorial Park – the holidays have become a perfect time for celebrating the past and present. “The parade is a time when families can bring their kids and get together with friends,” says Rosa Ash, secretary and treasurer for the Lacy Lakeview Chamber of Commerce. “At the end, everybody comes to the park, where we have music, Santa Claus, cookies – the whole thing.” After the Christmas parade, more than 500 people

participate in festivities that include recognizing winners of the Light-Up Lacy Lakeview holiday lights contests and the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree. The parade’s popularity, as well as the growing number of fun activities in and around the event, demonstrates a commitment on the part of the city, the chamber of commerce and its business partners to the community, Ash says. “Everybody plays their part, and it’s really everybody’s parade,” she says. “That’s what makes it work.”

The parade is a popular part of the holiday festivities.

www.lacylakeview.org


Lacy Lakeview

Lacy Lakeview Facts at a Glance LOCATION

TRANSPORTATION

Lacy Lakeview lies on the north border of Waco, the county seat. The Dallas/Ft. Worth area is approximately 85 miles to the north, Austin is approximately 100 miles to the south, San Antonio is approximately 160 miles to the south, and Houston is approximately 180 miles to the southwest of Lacy Lakeview.

• Highways: Interstate 35, Highway 77, Highway 84, Texas State Highway 6, and the farm-to-market system are all accessible in Lacy Lakeview. • Railroads: Union Pacific and Southern Pacific • Airlines: The Waco Regional Airport is 10 minutes west of Lacy Lakeview. • Buses: A Greyhound Bus Terminal is in downtown Waco, 10 minutes south of Lacy Lakeview.

POPULATION In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau listed Lacy Lakeview’s population at 5,764.

CLIMATE Lacy Lakeview has a subtropical climate, with a mean annual temperature of 67.2 degrees. The average minimum temperature for December is 38.7, while the average maximum temperature in July is 96.4.

AREA The Lacy Lakeview city limits encompass approximately seven square miles.

ORIGIN Lacy and Lakeview were once two different cities until they merged in the early 1950s. The City of Northcrest merged into the City of Lacy Lakeview in May of 1998.

MEDICAL FACILITIES Area medical facilities include: • Connally Community Health Center (Family Practice Center) • DePaul Center • Heart of Texas Region Mental Health Mental Retardation Center • Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center • Hillcrest Medical Clinics • McLennan County Rehabilitation Center • Providence Health Center • Scott & White Medical Clinics • Veterans Administration Hospital

PARKS Lacy Lakeview Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated on May 31, 1999. The park honors American veterans of all wars, and citizens can purchase memorial bricks of loved ones who are veterans. The park – in a beautiful setting with oak trees and flowers – includes a walking track, playground equipment, covered picnic tables and benches. Live Oak Park, behind City Hall, includes Little League fields, a large playground, covered picnic tables and a basketball court.

CITY GOVERNMENT Lacy Lakeview has a council-manager form of government in a home-rule setting for more efficiency and responsibility. The city has an excellent volunteer fire department with two fire stations. The police department has 14 officers.

TAXATION The city has a low property tax rate at .32 per $100 valuation. Public school systems include Connally Independent School District and the La Vega Independent School District in Bellmead. Area colleges include Baylor University, McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College.

WES ALDRIDGE

EDUCATION

Veterans Memorial Park is a peaceful place to reflect.

Special Advertising Section


If our hills, valleys and mountains seem excessive

Live, Wor

... in charming, beaut A great place to CULTURE Bosque County is where culture abounds. From the newly restored Bosque Conservatory with performing arts and a permanent art collection to the Bosque Museum which houses the nationally acclaimed Horn Shelter which depicts ancient Texans at least 9,500 years ago. The heritage of Bosque County is preserved by the Bosque County Historical Commission housed in the Bosque Collection.

RECREATION Experience hunting, fishing, golfing, bird watching, star gazing or just relaxing. Bosque County is a recreation destination with Meridian State Park, Lake Whitney, Bosque Valley Golf Course, the Central Texas Fairgrounds, Bosque Bottoms and the Paul J. Meyer Observatory.

EDUCATION Education in Bosque County is premium, with state-of-the-art K-12 facilities and distance learning campuses.

Clifton Chamber of Commerce

(800) 344-3720 or (254) 675-3720 • www.cliftontexas.org


e, you’ll have to take it up with Mother Nature.

rk, Play ...

tiful Bosque County – o come home to. HEALTH CARE Full-Service Hospital • Inpatient • Outpatient • Obstetrics • Surgical • Critical Care • Rehabilitation Services – PT/OT/Speech • Primary Clinics in Clifton and Meridian • Home Health Services • Nursing Facility Care

OPPORTUNITY Urban flight to the county has created tremendous needs for city amenities in small towns and Bosque County has a great opportunity for all business owners.

FRIENDLY Whether you’re seeking a business opportunity, a quality of life for your family or an eventful day trip, come see us. View our hills, the best in Texas, visit our art galleries, antiques and collectible shops, and savor some of the local cuisine. You’ll be glad you did!

Meridian Chamber of Commerce

(254) 435-2966 • www.meridian-chamber.com


Est. 1886


Business Images Heart of Texas: 2008  

The Heart of Texas region is strategically positioned for business, with its proximity to Mexico, excellent infrastructure, skilled and trai...

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