Growth in downtown Waco has led to the development of many new businesses

Story by Catherine Cohen

Photos by Joshua Martin

Waco had been considered a town for students to get their education and ready them to move to a larger city after graduation, such as Houston, Dallas or Austin. However, in the past few years, Waco has experienced growth in so many ways. The culture of the city is shifting due to the success of businesses and self-starters who have now paved the way for graduates and young people from all over to begin to view Waco as their desired destination after graduation. 

 Due to the success young adults have seen with existing entrepreneurs in Waco, they want to take the culture of Waco and give it a new beginning through the creation of their own businesses. There are many organizations and businesses that see this form of growth and help to make it more of a reality for Wacoans. 

  1. City Center Waco

City Center Waco’s mission is to drive development of the downtown Waco area to stay on top of the momentum of growth in the city. Megan Henderson, Executive Director of City Center Waco, described this trend rising because of the conditions already existing here. 

“Waco gives young people the ability to have such an impact on their own community,” Henderson said.

People in their 20s and 30s are making new developments alongside businesses with strong history in Waco. Henderson described this drive as a “powerful incentive rather than an artificial one to become a visionary here and make your mark.” 

Henderson also spoke on what has been encouraging young people to make Waco their new destination.

“Students coming out of upper level education institutions are looking for ways to stay and things to do so they can be a part of something new and great here in Waco,” said Henderson.

  1. Bittersweet

Young people are launching businesses and contributing their ideas to the growing community in Waco in order to be a part of something special. Businesses such as Bittersweet, a cookie business started by a Baylor student, has become a highly visited spot on Austin Avenue. Hanna Austin, the owner and creator of Bittersweet, took her talents to a storefront downtown to contribute to the community by bringing people from all over, including a huge crowd of students every day, to try her newest cookie creations. 

“When you are passionate about what you’re doing, people support you here,” said Austin about the community in Waco.

Austin describes her growth as “naturally and organic,” and her decision to begin in Waco has “benefited me [her] in the business world.” She plans to stay in Waco with her business. 

  1. Union Hall

 A new food hall in downtown Waco, is an example of a space that could help jumpstart young people’s ideas in the restaurant industry by giving them an opportunity to operate under the same roof as businesses that already have had a great impact on the city. A space like this helps build a community of existing and fresh ideas to work together in delivering a great food experience to the people of Waco.

Waco has possessed an infectious culture of those who want to shape their community and make an impact leading to a strong momentum of growth. Waco is changing every day due to young people and their passion to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Because of this, Waco has become the destination for graduates.