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Heart of texas
Region embraces sustainability
In the Green
Incentives spur expansion
Good to Grow
Business districts revitalize
sponsoreD by tHe Heart of texas CounCIl of Governments | 2011-12
Building Partnerships and Prosperity in the Heart of Texas!
Heart of Texas Council of Governments
Strengthening Individuals and Communities
• Area Agency on Aging • 2-1-1 Information System • Rural Transit District • Emergency Preparedness • Criminal Justice • 9-1-1 Emergency Communications • Environmental and Solid Waste Planning • Community and Economic Development
Heart of Texas Economic Development District
Driving Regional Economic Development
• Economic Development Planning • Regional Marketing and Attraction • Economic Development Grand Support Services • Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy • Local Economic Development Support
Heart of Texas Council of Governments and Heart of Texas Economic Development District 1514 S. New Rd. • Waco, TX 76711 • (254) 292-1800 • Fax: (254) 756-0102 • www.hotcog.org
An online resource at ImaGesHeartoftexas.Com
Heart of texas
Find out what it’s like to live here and what makes the area such a special place to be.
Good to Grow
Incentives spur expansion
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In the Green
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Region embraces sustainability
Business districts revitalize
A spotlight on the innovative companies that call the Heart of Texas home
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project manager eMIly McMACkIN on the coVer: WACo’S HISToRIC SuSPeNSIoN BRIdGe photo by BRIAN McCoRd
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What makes the Heart of Texas such a favorable place to do business? What is it about the livability of the Heart of Texas that makes people who move there to work decide to stay for the long term? experience the vitality and charm of the Heart of Texas from the comfort of your computer.
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ten Good reasons to Come, Do business
1. 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.
7. Central location The Heart of Texas is along the I-35 and I-45 corridors, equidistant between Austin and dallas-Fort Worth. extensive air and railway transportation infrastructure is also found throughout the region. 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, 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 more.
2. 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. Texas also has no personal income tax. 3. premium Health Care Hillcrest
Health System, Providence Healthcare Network and Scott & White serve the area with top-notch medical services. Both Hillcrest Hospital and Providence Hospital are continually expanding their facilities, increasing service capacity and quality.
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.
Heart of Texas
4. business Incentives The Heart of Texas offers 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. 5. Healthy lifestyle If you enjoy the outdoors, you will love the Heart of Texas. lake Waco, lake Whitney and Meridian State Park 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. lake limestone and Fairfield lake are prime spots for bass fishing. 6. 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. The region also is filled with momand-pop places to dine as well as nationally familiar chain restaurants.
F R E E S T O NE
FA L L S
for more about what makes the Heart of texas such a great place to be, go to imagesheartoftexas.com.
A few miles north of Waco, visitors can find a community of artisans who specialize in making everything from homemade breads and pastries to handcrafted wooden furniture, soaps, candles and pottery at Homestead Craft Village. The village is home to a 1,000-member homesteading community devoted to old-fashioned farming and craftsmanship. Visitors can tour the pottery barn, gristmill, forge and other shops to watch craftsmen at work, browse the gift shop for handcrafted and heirloom items, or sign up for classes to learn a craft of their own.
Spanning the Brazos River for more than a century, Waco’s historic suspension bridge bears an uncanny resemblance to another famous bridge – New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was built with cable supplied by John Roebling, who also designed and constructed the Brooklyn Bridge. At the time the bridge was built in 1870, it was the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi, and it connected Waco to the Chisholm Trail, establishing the city as a flourishing trade center. Cowpokes used the bridge to drive herds of cattle across the Brazos to northern markets. Today, the bridge is reserved for pedestrians and serves as the centerpiece of many community festivals and events. A scenic Riverwalk loop, which stretches from Baylor University to the 416-acre Cameron Park, passes underneath the bridge, allowing joggers to enjoy waterfront views from both sides of the Brazos.
mIlItary retIree maGnet
Waco was recently named the No. 1 place for military veterans to settle down after retirement. Sponsored by the united Services Automobile Association and military.com, the “Best Places for Military Retirement” list cited Waco’s affordable housing, low unemployment, close-knit community, higher education institutions and proximity to Fort Hood. The city was also recognized for its services for veterans. Waco is home to a newly expanded VA hospital and the National Pharmacy Contact Center at the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Heart of texas
toast of tHe toWn
In the Heart of Texas, dr. Pepper is the drink of choice – and it’s not hard to guess why. In 1885, Waco druggist Charles Alderton created the carbonated concoction out of a mixture of his favorite fruit syrups. By the turn of the century, the soda had become a national sensation and one of the country’s first major soft drink brands. Today Wacoans still love it so much that many drink it hot over a slice of lemon as an alternative to coffee or tea. The elite Circle Grille in downtown Waco even mixes it with barbecue sauce to douse over wings and baby back ribs. dr. Pepper and its regional roots are celebrated at the dr. Pepper Museum, which features an old bottling plant, animated tours and a checker-tiled vintage soda fountain serving dr. Pepper floats made from the original cane-sugar recipe.
tHe Club sCene
Golf is one of the favorite ways to unwind in the Heart of Texas, and the region is home to several top courses that offer a range of amenities and challenges. Five of the most popular include: •Cottonwood Creek Golf Course: This public facility has a rollingplain terrain, with a par 72 course that measures 7,140 yards, as well as the largest putting green in the area and a 300-by-100yard driving range. •White Bluff Resort: Given a four-star rating by Golf Digest, White Bluff features two championship courses. Both courses have different front and back nines, along with bent grass greens with water hazards and sand bunkers, and fairways that wind through hundreds of trees.
best In entrepreneursHIp
Baylor university’s Hankamer School of Business was recently ranked No. 2 among the top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs by Entrepreneur magazine. In addition to offering scholarships for students majoring in entrepreneurship, the program was recognized for its affordability, enrollment figures, number of entrepreneurship organizations and mentorships, and its high percentage of faculty members who are also entrepreneurs.
•Twin Rivers Golf Club: located along the banks of the South and Middle Bosque rivers, Twin Rivers, the home course for Baylor university, is the second-longest course in Texas. •Battle Lake Golf Course: This public course in Mart is known for its Birdie Girls, who ride around in golf carts serving food and drinks to golfers during 18-hole rounds. •Bosque Valley Golf Club: This course features a nine-hole narrow layout where golfers are rewarded for good shots.
best of the best
Story by John Fuller
Record job growth keeps business thriving in the Heart of Texas
PHoTo CouRTeSy oF luMINANT
he Heart of Texas region, which includes the Central Texas counties of McLennan, Falls, Limestone, Freestone, Hill and Bosque, could well be called “the best of the best” in job creation. While Texas stands out as the best state in the nation for job growth, Waco was recently named as the best city in the state for adding new jobs, according to an annual study by the Texas Workforce Commission. Job growth is just one of the positive indicators that give the Heart of Texas a robust economy. The region is centrally located, almost equidistant from Dallas, Austin and Houston, crisscrossed
by major highways and rail lines and is home to several colleges and universities devoted to research and economic development.
loW WaGes, skIlleD labor brInG neW jobs “We haven’t had the negative impact from the recession other areas of the country have experienced,” says Kenneth Simons, executive director of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments. “We have an excellent, skilled labor market, relatively low wage rates and a stable housing market. The prospects are bright for our future here in the Heart of Texas.” Those positives have resulted in some significant relocations
and expansions across the region. Waco in McLennan County and Mexia in neighboring Limestone County have together added thousands of new jobs in sectors such as manufacturing and health services. Some rebirth of energy exploration – long a regional economic staple – has also brought expanded facilities. Caterpillar, Inc., recently opened a precision manufacturing center at its Waco campus, making this the fourth new Caterpillar location to open in Waco since 2005. Caterpillar employs more than 500 workers at its Waco facilities. Health care and personal product
above: luminant is expanding its lignite mine in Fairfield. right: Clearview Managed Services is locating its new data center in Waco.
Heart of texas
manufacturers have also expanded in the Waco area. Allergan plans to employ more than 600 workers at its pharmaceutical site in Texas Central Park, and Associated Hygienic Products, a leading manufacturer of diapers and training pants, completed a $10 million expansion of its facility, adding more than 200 jobs. Power plants and mining provide a great deal of employment for the region. Luminant, the state’s largest power-generating company, is in the midst of a 10,000-acre expansion of its Big Brown Mine in Freestone County. This lignite coal deposit will serve the nearby Big Brown Steam Electric Station. Superior Silica Sands LLC, a provider of sand products for the oil and gas service companies, has built a new state-of-the-art processing plant in Kosse, Texas.
enerGy resourCes, loCatIon bIG pluses for reGIon Tommy Tucker, president of the Mexia Economic Development Commission, says the abundance of energy resources and water are attractive to companies locating in the region. True to its name, the Heart of Texas has another big plus – an ideal location. “We think we have the best of both worlds,” Tucker says. “We enjoy a rural atmosphere and all of its benefits, but we can easily
reach the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex and other major cities.” Mexia has seen impressive growth in recent years with a major shopping center expansion planned and the third expansion of the Carry-On Trailer plant. Carry-On, the largest maker of utility trailers in the world, added 98,000 square feet to its plant and will hire 100 more employees. Several colleges and universities, including Baylor University, Texas State Technical College and Navarro College, are providing job skills for employees of companies across the region. Skilled professionals and an ideal location were major factors in Clearview Managed Services’ decision to locate a data center in Waco in 2010, according to Jay Battershell, Clearview’s chief operating and technology officer. The abundance of reliable power in the region was another important factor to ensure business continuity for Clearview’s clients, he notes. Perhaps one of the greatest assets of the Heart of Texas is the spirit of cooperation that exists among all of the members of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments to make the region attractive to businesses, Kenneth Simons says. “We are all working closely together for the good of the entire region,” he says.
a Heart for veterans
New pHaRmacy call ceNTeR suppoRTs RegioN’s veTeRaNs
Taking care of military veterans is a role taken very seriously in the Heart of Texas region. The Veterans Affairs medical facility in Waco has cared for veterans for more than 75 years, and the community is extending its reach nationwide with the opening of the Health Resource Center’s National Pharmacy Customer Care Center. The center, located on the medical center campus, is part of the department of Veterans Affairs efforts to improve customer service to veterans and their access to care, specifically their access to pharmacy needs. The call center, which will support veterans calling into 39 VA hospitals in 18 states, plans to further renovate the facility in the coming months. “This region of the country has always shown tremendous support for military veterans, which is one of the major reasons for locating the facility in Waco,” says debra Redd, VA public affairs officer for the Health Resource Center. Redd says another major factor was the access to high-quality, professional employees to staff the center, which is expected to create 350 new jobs. The location of the new call center underscores the region’s support of veterans and its history of hiring them once they enter civilian life. Waco ranked No. 1 in the nation for Best Places for Military Retirement, according to a list sponsored by the united Service Automobile Association and military.com. The Veterans Affairs campus in Waco, which is part of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care system, includes an outpatient medical center for area veterans, a psychiatric facility, nursing home facility, a rehabilitation center for the blind and a patient rehabilitation unit for post-traumatic stress disorder. – John Fuller
P H o T o C o u R T e S y o F d AV I d T o R d o F F
Good to Grow
Business-friendly incentives, skilled labor spur expansion in the Heart of Texas
Story by Katie Kuehner-Hebert
ith business-friendly incentives and an ableand-willing educated workforce, companies are finding plenty of opportunities to grow in the Heart of Texas. Low costs and highly skilled labor have helped a diverse group of industries, from manufacturing plants to aerospace companies, expand their facilities and retain, as well as create, jobs. Owens-Illinois Inc. recently received a Texas Enterprise Project designation for its Waco facility, making the Fortune 500 glass bottle manufacturer eligible for reimbursement of state sales
and use taxes of up to $2,500 per job retained. “We’ve been in Waco for a long time, and we’re happy to be part of the community,” says Beth Peery, spokeswoman. “We opened our facility here in 1944, and we currently employ about 300 people – many from families who have worked for two to three generations at our plant.” Double B Foods of Meridian was honored this year with the Bosque County Employer of Excellence Award by the Heart of Texas Workforce Development Board Inc. for embracing
alternative ways to recruit, grow and maintain their workforce. T Squared, provider of machining services to the aerospace and manufacturing industry, is currently investing $1.6 million to build a second location in Waco, creating 24 jobs.
spaCex Doubles Its faCIlIty Space Exploration Technologies Corp., more commonly known as SpaceX, signed a lease in March with the city of McGregor to more than double the size of its rocket and spacecraft testing facility, from 256 acres to 631 acres – the
Heart of texas
SpaceX is doubling the size of its rocket and spacecraft testing facility in McGregor.
equivalent of 500 football fields. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Hawthorne, Calif., SpaceX manufactures rockets that carry satellites and spacecraft to orbit. At its McGregor facility, the company tests every Merlin engine that powers the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and every Draco thruster that controls its Dragon spacecraft before launch. “We needed to expand because the company itself is expanding – we have more than $3 billion in contracts in the coming years from companies who want to launch satellites into orbit,” says spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham.
Last June, SpaceX was awarded a $492 million contract from Iridium, maker of satellite phones, to launch its newest constellation – the largest contract ever for satellite launches. The company also became the first commercial firm to successfully return a spacecraft from orbit, and now has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station after the space shuttle program ends later this year. For its efforts, SpaceX was recently named one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world by MIT’s Technology Review. Grantham says the strong aerospace presence in the region benefits SpaceX. “There’s a lot of great local talent we can pull from,” she says. “There are also excellent engineering schools in Texas and a really good technical college, Texas Technical College, where we hire people.” Currently SpaceX employs about 130 people at its McGregor facility, and it expects to double that number in the next several years. Since acquiring the facility from Beale Aerospace in 2003, SpaceX has invested more than $50 million in the community.
l-3 platform InteGratIon aDDs jobs L-3 Platform Integration, a unit of New York City-based L-3 Integrated Systems Group, is the most recent
owner of a 25-year-old Waco facility that modifies both commercial and military aircraft. Its VIP program upgrades the interiors of large commercial jets for royalty and heads of state. Its most complex project has been the installation of a 20-ton infrared telescope on a 747SP aircraft with an 18-foot-high door that opens in flight for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) for NASA and Germany’s space agency. Last year, L-3 added another 100,000 square feet to its Waco facility to total 600,000 square feet of hangar space and 200,000 square feet of warehouse space. Currently employing 2,000 people, the company recently received a performance-based grant from the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corp. for adding jobs to the community. “Waco offers a very hospitable business environment where the local economic development entities, including the city, county, chamber and council of governments, work very cooperatively to not only bring in business, but also to support existing businesses,” says Lance Martin, L-3’s public relations manager for the Waco facility. “Their method of doing that is quite responsible,” Martin says. “If we don’t deliver jobs and real growth, then we don’t get the grants.”
P H o T o C o u R T e S y o F S PA C e X
In the Green
energy resources, innovation drive economic activity in region
Story by M.V. Greene • Photography by Brian McCord
atural resources abound in the Heart of Texas, and companies operating in the six-county Central Texas region are aggressively seeking opportunities to develop those resources – not only to reap profits that bolster local tax revenues but also to develop sustainable technologies that promise to generate new, cost-effective energy sources. Examples are numerous. Through its reclamation initiatives of mined land in Fairfield, mining company Luminant is creating opportunities for agricultural and other economic sectors. Fairfield-based start-up Clean Energy Technology Association Inc. is working on clean coal and sulfur reduction projects. And the build-out of the Sandy Creek Power Generation Facility in McLennan County is being designed to pulverize coal from the Powder River Basin to provide service for high-electric-use industries.
sanDy Creek to provIDe eleCtrICIty stateWIDe The Sandy Creek Power Generation Facility will bring many benefits to the region, according
to Jim Lewis, McLennan county judge, who noted that some 1,500 workers are being employed during the construction phase with 100 full-time permanent positions expected once the plant is operational. “It will provide electricity not only here but all over the state,” Lewis says. “Any time you have that kind of economic impact, it is not only good for our county but also the surrounding area.” Construction of the plant in Riesel, Texas, near Waco, began in April 2008 and is expected to begin commercial operation in 2012. The 900-megawatt facility will include a supercritical steam generator and advanced emission controls, a selective catalytic reduction system, scrubbers and a continuous emissions monitoring system, according to the owners, which include Houston-based Dynegy Inc.
Ceta tests alternatIve enerGy solutIons Clean Energy Technology Association, or CETA, is
The Sandy Creek Power Generation Facility is expected to generate electricity for more than 900,000 Texas homes and businesses.
Heart of texas
using its ingenuity to explore alternative sources of energy, according the organization’s chairman, Roy W. Hill. “We are exploring environmentally cleaner technologies that have not been developed and are ‘outside the box’ to hopefully make a big change in how energy is produced in this country and abroad,” Hill says. CETA is working with a range of resources, including solar, water, wind, nuclear, oil, natural gas, coal, energy efficiency and biomass. “We are intent on actually building plants incorporating these new technologies, not simply talking about building them,” Hill says. Among its initiatives, CETA expects its manufacturing processes to develop various products, such as oils that can be processed into synthetic transportation fuels, plastics, lubricants and molecules that will be used to make pharmaceuticals, dyes, cosmetics and resins.
utIlIzInG loCal talent Vital to the start-up’s anticipated success is leveraging the talents and resources of the local community. “When possible, we hire local employees and
contractors for our company,” Hill says. “We also buy products and services locally, increasing jobs and economic vitality of the region. While our new technologies can be applied anywhere in the world, we have decided to start the company in Fairfield to utilize local knowledge and expertise in the energy industry and to support economic growth in this region.” Nearby, Luminant, a competitive power-generation business subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings Corp., has won a number of awards for reclamation excellence in its mining activities. In Fairfield the company has reclaimed 15,000 of the 20,000 acres it has mined by replanting trees and grass and restoring a nearby creek. Luminant estimates that increased potential production gained from postmine soils could boost the Freestone County’s agricultural economy by $21 million over the next 20 years.
BusiNesses iN waco geT eNviRoNmeNTally coNscious
The city of Waco is becoming known as a haven for sustainability. The Waco Chamber of Commerce is intent on carrying the mantle for sustainability to help area businesses make the most of their resources. “We’re presenting (sustainability) as a business opportunity,” says Scott Connell, senior vice president of strategic development for the Waco Chamber of Commerce. “At the end of the day, it’s about being more efficient and running your company better.” businesses through its Green Business Network. At its learning Green luncheon every other month, companies come away with fresh ideas on how to leverage sustainability principles, Connell says. organizations in the network include Mars-Snackfood uS, which earned national recognition for using landfill gas to replace some of the energy needed to power its operation, and Mclennan Community College, which has incorporated environmentally friendly features into its new buildings. Today, many local companies see a sustainability program as a business imperative, says Jack Stiffler, president of MarathonNorco Aerospace Inc., which received the prestigious ISo 14001 environmental certification at its 215,000-square-foot plant in Waco.
Company Cuts eleCtrIC ConsumptIon
MarathonNorco Aerospace, which provides aircraft battery and power solutions, looks for sustainability opportunities in product design, energy usage and internal manufacturing processes. Its sustainability approach has led to reduced electric consumption at the plant by about a third in the last three years and reduced water usage from more than 10 million gallons annually to 4 million gallons. “We try to run our business around the concept that in everything we do, we should use as little as we can and get the most out of it that we can possibly gain,” Stiffler says. – M.V. Greene
fIrst Green CHamber buIlDInG
The Waco chamber built the nation’s first green chamber of commerce building to showcase its businesseducation efforts on sustainability. The organization promotes sustainability efforts among local
Transportation, location make region ideal for logistics
Story by M.V. Greene
hen it comes to transportation and logistics, the Heart of Texas region is high on the list of favorite locations for distribution executives. In fact, “Waco is perfect,” says Les Gardner, vice president of logistics for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply Co., the nation’s largest retail
farm-and-ranch store chain that operates a 650,000-square-foot distribution hub in the area. Gardner and Tractor Supply aren’t the only ones with a fondness for what Waco can offer their operations. Distribution plants for Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, SherwinWilliams and Ferguson Enterprises
dot the region, and Caterpillar is building a 750,000-square-foot facility in the area. Additionally, Army & Air Force Exchange Services is launching a $43 million expansion at its 700,000-squarefoot distribution center, which employs 510 people.
strateGIC transportatIon nexus Its location along the Interstate 35 and 45 corridors positions the region as a strategic transportation nexus – equal distance between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth and equipped with extensive air and railway infrastructure. “We selected Waco for its geographical location,” Gardner says. “It’s very convenient to the major markets of San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. The I-35 corridor is really important to us, especially with the intermodal ramp in Fort Worth. We needed access to southern Texas without getting too far from the intermodal connections that we have for the West Coast in Fort Worth.” Gardner says Waco’s location is a benefit, but there are other advantages as well, such as an attractive workforce, available land for expansion and a businessfriendly environment. perfeCt for expansIon Tractor Supply’s distribution center was sited in Waco in the early 2000s and doubled its size less than a decade later. The center employs a workforce of 150-200 workers, including part-time seasonal
Heart of texas
S TA F F P H o T o
student employees from Baylor University. Such an educated workforce also creates a potential supply of beginning supervisors, Gardner adds. “The community wanted the jobs, and the community had the property,” Gardner says. “That made for a very good fit.” The inviting tax base and business-friendly environment has Tractor Supply in lockstep with the Greater Waco local community. “If it is too big of a city, you can’t get things done, and you don’t know who anybody is,” Gardner says. “Our general manager in Waco is very familiar with the county commissioners and the mayor. They converse on a regular basis. It is a nice-sized city for us. It is not so big that it is onerous.”
ConneCtInG rural CountIes To capitalize on its unique location and transportation assets, the Heart of Texas Council of Governments has developed a fixed-route rural transit service in partnership with the Waco Transit System to ensure workers have reliable public transportation within the six-county region. Gary L. Rushing, transportation manager for the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, says transportation planning is a big component of economic development in the Waco area, which spans Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties. “We have a lot of people in the rural areas that work in Waco,” Rushing says. “The industrial park here is just bursting at the seams. There is a lot of industry here that employs a lot of folks even outside of Waco’s urban area. Our goal is to work with them to help bring those employees in, because without transportation they are unable to maintain their jobs.”
Flying HigH WaCo aIrport boosts safety, servICes WItH upGraDes
Waco Regional Airport is getting an upgrade. Thanks to $4.9 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $8.2 million from the u.S. department of Transportation and $581,795 from the Federal Aviation Administration, improvements are on the way for the airport, which serves as one of the region’s key transportation hubs. The grants will pay for resurfacing and repairing runways, completing the construction of a runway safety area, and other maintenance and safety improvements to the taxiway and terminal. Not only will the upgrades create construction jobs, but they will also boost the airport’s services to passengers. Recently, the terminal at Waco Regional was expanded to accommodate three separate passenger gates and two passenger boarding bridges. In addition to free parking, the airport allows travelers in Central Texas to avoid the stress of driving to airports more than an hour away in dallas, Austin and killeen. – Emily McMackin
Visit Historic City of Hubbard, Texas . .
the Victorian Crossroads of Central Texas
Hubbard is a Historic Trades Day Community
Hubbard is centrally located 30 minutes between Interstates 35 and 45
City of Hubbard • Hubbard Economic Development 118 N. Magnolia • Hubbard, TX 76648 • (254) 576-2576 www.hubbardcity.com
colleges, universities team up to turn out skilled graduates
Story by Kevin Litwin • Photography by Brian McCord
aylor University has always competed for research projects with the likes of Texas A&M, Texas Tech and the University of Texas. Not so much anymore. “Today, Baylor and other universities welcome joint collaborations because in many cases it has really become the United States against the world,” says Dr. Truell Hyde, Baylor University vice provost of research.
“That’s why here at Baylor we’ve embarked upon the Baylor Research & Innovation Collaborative, or BRIC, to have talented students from different institutions boost research efforts to an even higher level.” In 2011, a Baylor alum gave the university an old General Tire manufacturing plant in Waco that was constructed in the 1940s to support the war effort, but had been sitting idle since 1985. Hyde says the 300,000-square-foot building and its
22 acres are being transformed into the university’s top-flight BRIC research facility. “Even though the General Tire plant is rough due to 25 years of sitting idle, it is saving the university millions of dollars by retrofitting it to our needs instead of constructing an all-new research building,” he says. “The old building has a phenomenal amount of concrete and steel in the foundation, which is great. It is architecturally strong.”
Heart of texas
CollaboratIve WorkforCe traInInG The first phase of renovation at the old site is currently underway at a cost of $34 million and will be completed in the first quarter of 2012. The ultimate plan for the building (it will officially be called the Baylor Research & Innovation Collaborative) is to lease sections to interested colleges and universities. “For example, 45,000 square feet will be set aside for Texas State Technical College for their workforce training efforts in robotics, electrical engineering and computer science,” Hyde says. “Those are hot careers that are challenging, high-paying and whose graduates are much in demand.” aerospaCe anD WInD enerGy traInInG Texas State Technical College is also involved in a $12.5 million project to construct an 82,500square-foot Texas Aerospace Technology Center of Excellence at TSTC Waco Airport. The center will support FAA-certified research, high-tech aviation and aerospace workforce training. Texas State Technical was also one of three schools nationwide to just win a seal of approval from the American Wind Energy Association for its wind technician training program. “Our wind technician training is actually focused at our Sweetwater campus in western Texas, where nature’s strong winds are, while our Waco campus is focusing on solar energy,” says Ron Sanders, TSTC Waco vice president for student learning. “Speaking of all our technology efforts, Community College Week magazine just announced its Top 100 Associate Degree Producers for two-year colleges in America,
Baylor university collaborates with other Waco-area colleges to advance research and innovation in the region.
and TSTC Waco ranked No. 1 in engineering technology.”
otHer unIversIty, ColleGe partnersHIps Several other educational institutions throughout the region are sending skilled graduates into the job market. McLennan Community College partners with four-year institutions such as Texas
Tech to offer advanced degrees, while Hill College prepares students for professional and technical fields at its campuses in Hillsboro, Cleburne and Meridian. “Colleges, universities and tech centers throughout this region are training students for excellent careers,” Truell says. “Many industries are hiring these students immediately upon graduation.”
culture and history. The City of Hillsboro is recognized as a 2011 Main Street City. The Hillsboro Independent School DIstrict is a Texas Recognized District. Hillsboro offers small-town appeal with intimate shops and cafes in the historic downtown district, while bustling with the growth of larger businesses, outlet shopping, restaurants and hotels along Interstate Highway 35. Our city values, a sense of community while growing through industry, technology and higher learning. Discover the warmth and charm of Hillsboro, for a weekend of shopping or a lifetime of possibilities. www.hillsborotx.org
elcome to Hillsboro, a city brimming with Central Texas
prescription for Growth
Heart of Texas hospitals expand and add facilities
Story by Kevin Litwin
atients in the six-county region of the Heart of Texas can expect top health care without traveling far from home. Conveniently located Providence Health Center in Waco offers a range of specialized care that includes heart and cancer clinics, wound and bariatric surgery centers, and an accredited Level II stroke facility. The hospital has also embarked upon a $6.5 million expansion of its Women and Newborns Center, which will include an upgraded neonatal nursery for sick newborns. The 18-month expansion project will be completed by January 2012 and includes renovation of the front of the hospital, an expansion of the lobby and adding a dedicated express elevator to the Women and Newborns Center on the fifth floor.
CuttInG-eDGe treatment, teCHnoloGIes Hillcrest Health System in Waco as well as Scott & White Healthcare, which operates
health-care facilities throughout Central Texas, merged a couple of years ago to open a brand-new Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco. The 236-bed hospital is jointly run by the two health-care entities as a ministry of Texas Baptists. “Partnering with an academic research hospital (Scott & White) provides a greater opportunity to bring groundbreaking treatment and technologies directly to the Greater McLennan County area,” says Glenn Robinson, president and CEO of Hillcrest Health System. The $185 million hospital includes imaging centers, a Level II trauma center and a network of specialty clinics that include a new OB/GYN facility. There is also a large emergency department and a number of high-tech surgical suites.
reHabIlItatIon, outpatIent Centers As for the old Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center building on Herring Avenue that has served Central
Texas since 1920, it remains open and is home to the only acute inpatient rehabilitation unit in McLennan County. HBMC-Herring Avenue also offers outpatient radiation treatment through its Fentress Cancer Center, plus there is a new skilled nursing facility along with home care and hospice services.
HospItal expansIons, upGraDes Other hospitals throughout the region have undergone changes in recent times, including the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center that first opened in 1933. The VA Hospital recently spent nearly $50 million for upgrades that include the creation of a Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, which is a mental health research facility with offices and labs. The hospital also expanded its Blind Rehabilitation Unit to 30 beds and repaired its campus infrastructure in preparation for the growth of new programs.
RuRal CliniCs and HOspitals in tHe HeaRt OF texas
A strong network of small hospitals and clinics provide residents in rural areas of the Heart of Texas with access to quality care. east Texas Medical Center Fairfield in Freestone County offers a level IV trauma center as well as a nationally accredited cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center and new digital mammography equipment. The hospital is undergoing a $15 million expansion to double the size of its eR, expand its inpatient wing and add a physicians clinic. In Bosque County, Goodall-Witcher Hospital and its adjoining Clifton Medical Clinic offer services such as digital mammography, a sleep lab, general surgery, baby delivery and a cardiac rehabilitation unit. The hospital also operates a satellite health clinic in Meridian. other hospitals include Falls Community Hospital & Clinic in Marlin, Hill Regional Hospital in Hillsboro, limestone Medical Center in Groesbeck and Parkview Regional Hospital in Mexia.
walkability, arts and culture revitalize business districts
Story by Karen Schwartzman
rom walkable urban neighborhoods that attract young professionals to small towns capitalizing on history and the arts, downtown districts in the Heart of Texas are experiencing a renaissance. Along the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, residential lofts are being constructed and riverfront shops and restaurants are opening. Local leaders hope to transform downtown into a walkable community where business, the arts and urban living intersect. “Waco has invested in a number of large capital projects over the years that have set the stage for the recent surge in downtown development,” says Larry Groth, Waco city manager. These projects include the creation of a town lake on the Brazos River, landscaped boulevards on both sides of the river, 6 miles of riverwalk and much more, Groth says.
vIsIon for WaCo Much of this recent growth can be attributed to the city’s Imagine Waco
plan, a planning process designed to spur downtown development. “It’s a bold and ambitious vision for our community that we believe capitalizes on our current community assets and future potential as a Texas city,” says Chris McGowan, director of urban development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. The aim of the plan includes everything from new housing choices to a vibrant riverfront and more effective transportation options. Both Groth and McGowan agree that the Waco’s location on the Brazos River is one of its greatest assets. “Cities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to recreate what we have naturally running through our city, and capitalizing on the river as an asset is very important,” McGowan says.
Haven for HIstory, tHe arts Some smaller towns in the region are revitalizing themselves by emphasizing their roots and
culture. Downtown Hillsboro features an abundance of refurbished historic buildings, including one of the oldest courthouses in Texas. “Many of our buildings have been beautifully restored, and we’re continuing to do more work and restoration to promote heritage tourism,” says Jack Harper, Hillsboro city manager. “A lot of effort has been put into marketing our downtown preservations.” Such efforts to turn historic structures into shops and cafes earned Hillsboro recognition as a Main Street City by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Texas Main Street Program. In Bosque County, Clifton is also promoting itself as a cultural destination. Home to many nationally known Western artists and recently named one of the top 100 art communities in the nation, Clifton has five art galleries and draws 8,000 visitors annually to its Bosque Arts Center. The town is pursuing a state designation as a Texas Cultural Arts District.
Clockwise from top: Clifton was recently named one of the top 100 art communities in the nation; Waco Hippodrome Theatre; Hill County Courthouse in Hillsboro; Waco Chisholm Trail Heritage sculptures by Robert Summers border the shore of the Brazos River in downtown Waco.
ReCReatiOn in tHe HeaRt OF texas
outdoor buffs can find plenty of adventure throughout the Heart of Texas. The best recreation spots include: Lake Whitney: located along the Brazos River, the 35-mile lake provides top-notch angling for striped and white bass. Surrounded by white limestone cliffs and 40 miles of parks, the lake is the site of the nation’s first bass tournament. Camping facilities are also available for public use. Cameron Park: Hiking, biking and horseback riding trails are plentiful at the park, which sits on the shores of the Brazos River. The park also features a frisbee golf course and a wildflower preserve, and water enthusiasts can fish, canoe or kayak in the river. Meridian State Park: located in northwest Waco, the 72-acre park has hiking trails with scenic overlooks and plenty of water activities. Visitors can enjoy swimming, boating or fishing in the lake or explore nearby attractions. Lake Limestone and Fairfield Lake: The lakes offer prime fishing for crappie, sunfish, catfish and bass.
Heart of texas
S TA F F P H o T o S
The Heart of Texas region is strategically positioned for business, with its proximity to Mexico, excellent infrastructure, skilled and trainable workforce, and pro-business environment. Affordable, customized workforce training is available through local colleges.
Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce 115 N. Covington Hillsboro, TX 76645 (254) 582-2481 (254) 582-0465 (fax) www.hillsborochamber.org www.co.limestone.tx.us Population 23,384 (u.S. Census 2010) Groesbeck Chamber of Commerce 110 N. ellis St., (254) 729-3894 www.groesbecktexas.org Mexia economic development Corp. 405 e. Milam St., Ste. No. 3 Mexia, TX 76667 www.mexiaedc.com
www.bosquecounty.us Population 18,212 (u.S. Census 2010) Meridian Chamber of Commerce P.o. Box 758, Meridian, TX 76665 (254) 435-2966 www.meridianchamber.com Clifton Chamber of Commerce 115 N. Avenue d Clifton, TX 76634 (254) 675-3720 www.cliftontexas.org
Marlin Chamber of Commerce 245 Coleman St., Marlin, TX 76661 (254) 803-3301 (254) 883-2171 (fax) www.marlintexas.com www.co.freestone.tx.us Population 19,816 (u.S. Census 2010) Fairfield Chamber of Commerce 900 W. Commerce Fairfield, TX 75840 (903) 389-5792 (903) 389-8382 (fax) www.fairfieldtx.com
www.co.mclennan.tx.us Population 234,906 (u.S. Census 2010) Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce 900 Washington Ave. Waco, TX 76701 (254) 752-6551 (254) 752-6618 (fax) www.wacochamber.com
Population 17,866 (u.S. Census 2010)
www.co.hill.tx.us Population 35,089 (u.S. Census 2010)
Heart of texas
Best Western Atrea www.bestwesterntexas.com/woodway City of Hillsboro www.hillsborotx.org Heart of Texas Council of Governments www.hotcog.org Hubbard Economic Development – City of Hubbard www.hubbardcity.com Parkview Regional Hospital www.parkviewregional.com
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Mexia Economic Development Corporation www.mexiaedc.com
Workforce Solutions – Heart of Texas www.hotworkforce.com
20 Best Western AtreA
15 City of HillsBoro
C2 HeArt of texAs CounCil of Governments
13 HuBBArd eConomiC development – City of HuBBArd
C4 mexiA eConomiC development CorporAtion
16 pArkvieW reGionAl HospitAl
C3 WorkforCe solutions – HeArt of texAs
Mexia is equidistant between Seattle, Washington and Miami, Florida Mexia is the population center of Texas – within two hours of 20 million people Ample water and abundant power Shovel-ready Greenfield sites Logistically easy – two interstate highways, rail and general aviation airport
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