Small Business Landscape Shifts in Waco, Texas: Closures and Challenges

by: Debrah Wright

Waco, Texas, known for its vibrant community and historic charm, has recently experienced a wave of small businesses closing their doors, leaving locals saddened and concerned about the economic impact on the city. It’s disheartening to witness these closures, prompting a crucial moment of reflection to explore the closures of iconic establishments—Sironia, Bicycle World, Fuzzy’s and O-I—and delve into the broader implications for the local business landscape. This serves as a reminder that the success of our small businesses hinges on the support of our community.

Sironia: A 20-Year Legacy Comes to an End

After more than two decades of serving the Waco community, Sironia, a beloved local boutique, recently announced its closure. This charming store, known for its unique gifts, home decor, and boutique clothing, had become a staple for residents and visitors alike.

Sironia’s closure raises questions about the challenges small businesses face in the ever-evolving retail landscape. Factors such as increased online shopping, rising operating costs, and changing consumer preferences contribute to the struggles many local businesses encounter.

Bicycle World’s Abrupt Exit from Downtown Waco

In a surprising turn of events, Bicycle World, a longstanding fixture in downtown Waco, closed its doors abruptly. This departure left cycling enthusiasts and locals puzzled, as the shop had been a go-to destination for bike sales, repairs, and community events.

The sudden closure of Bicycle World highlights the unpredictable nature of the business environment. Economic downturns, unforeseen challenges, or shifts in consumer behavior can force businesses to make tough decisions quickly. It also underscores the importance of adaptability and resilience for small businesses in today’s dynamic market.

Mike Copeland’s Insights: Fuzzy’s Future and O-I Closure Fallout

Mike Copeland’s recent column sheds light on various business developments in Waco, including the closure of O-I Glass, one of the most prominent glass bottle manufacturers around the globe, is shutting down its Waco facility after 79 years of service. This impending closure caused a lay off of an approximate 300 employees. Owens-Illinois Glass, a global glass bottle manufacturing leader, is closing its Waco facility. Copeland explores the potential ripple effects of O-I’s closure on the local economy, touching on issues such as job loss and the impact on nearby businesses.

This article also shares that Both Waco-area Fuzzy’s Taco Shop restaurants, including the location in Downtown and Hewitt Drive have closed. Both area locations have now closed, including the Baylor student frequented on University Parks Drive that often seemed so lively, with patrons spilling onto the patio.

The interconnectedness of local businesses becomes apparent in the wake of closures like Fuzzy’s and now Bicycle World. Small businesses often rely on each other for support and foot traffic, creating a delicate ecosystem. Understanding and addressing the challenges faced by individual businesses can be crucial in preserving the overall health of the local economy.

Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities

While the closures of Sironia, Bicycle World, Fuzzy’s and O-I may paint a challenging picture for Waco’s small business community, it’s essential to recognize the opportunities for growth and revitalization. Initiatives such as community support, strategic partnerships, and adapting to changing consumer preferences can play a vital role in fostering a resilient local business landscape.

Small businesses are the heartbeat of our community, contributing directly to our local economy. They are more than just storefronts; they are the livelihoods of the people they employ and the families they sustain. It becomes particularly challenging when a multitude of factors stack against our small business owners.

As Waco navigates these shifts, community members, local leaders, and business owners must collaborate to address the underlying issues and work towards creating an environment where small businesses can thrive. The stories serve as reminders of the resilience required to weather the storms of the business world, ultimately shaping the future of Waco’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Let’s challenge the narrative and be the change we want to see in Waco. Small businesses are the backbone of our community, giving back in numerous ways. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to rally behind our small business leaders. Be the Waco you envision, and let’s show our support.

MCC hosts Small Business Networking Forum

McLennan Community College’s (MCC) Small Business Development Center, in partnership with Dallas College’s Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, will host an engaging Small Business Networking Forum on July 25 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the MCC Conference Center, located at 4601 North 19th Street, Waco, Texas.

This forum offers small business owners a valuable opportunity to connect with resources dedicated to fostering success in their ventures. Participants will gain access to crucial information about the McLennan Community Investment Fund, Start-Up Waco, MCC’s Small Business Development Center, local Chamber of Commerce organizations, and various other small business advocacy groups. 

A highlight of the forum will be a presentation from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, an investment program to support the growth and job creation of small businesses by offering education, capital, and business support services. Over 12,800 business owners from all 50 states including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have graduated from this program to date. 

The Forum will conclude with networking and one-on-one meetings with small business resources and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses representatives.

            Registration for this free event is at For more information, contact Dr. Frank Graves, Dean of Workforce & Public Service at MCC, at 254-299-8126 or[email protected].

Amazon chooses MCC, Tarleton, Tech as education partners for Career Choice program

Amazon’s Career Choice program has chosen McLennan Community College, Tarleton State University-Waco, and Texas Tech University as education partners for its Career Choice program, which provides Amazon’s hourly employees access to associate degrees, certifications, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees.

Image from Amazon’s Career Choice website.

Career Choice is an education benefit that enables employees to learn new skills for career success. The program allows employees to advance their education through a variety of “upskilling opportunities,” including pre-paid college tuition and industry certifications for in-demand jobs, an MCC release said. It also promotes “foundational skills,” such as English proficiency, high school diplomas, and GEDs.

Amazon is investing $1.2 billion in the United States to “upskill more than 300,000 employees by 2025 to help move them into higher-paying, in-demand jobs,” the release said.

“McLennan Community College is pleased to partner with Amazon for the Amazon Career Choice program, which will provide educational opportunity for our local citizens,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “We desire to be a catalyst for our community members to invest in a better life for their families and to support economic development.” The program is an example of the commitments by MCC, Tarleton, and Tech to “provide our community with an educated workforce. We look forward to our relationship with Amazon.”

Tarleton President James Hurley said: “We’re proud to partner with MCC to offer flexible academic programming for Amazon employees. Collaborations like this perfectly complement our 123-year commitment to educational opportunity and access for all students. Amazon employees will advance their careers, and North Central Texas will prosper.”

Brian Still, vice provost for e-learning and academic partnerships at Texas Tech, said: “Our partnerships with McLennan and in Waco are strong. It’s because of these strong partnerships that Texas Tech is joining this program in Waco. Amazon employees participating in the Career Choice program in the area can feel confident they are receiving a top-notch education.”

With about 8,000 students per semester, MCC offers more than 140 degrees, certificates, and occupational skills awards at an affordable cost with flexible class schedules on a 275-acre campus adjacent to Cameron Park and the Bosque River. Learn more at

In 2001, MCC established its University Center to offer MCC students opportunities to earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees on the MCC campus through distinguished partners like Tarleton and Texas Tech University. Students take their basic courses at MCC, transfer those credits to a University Center partner, and complete a fully-accredited bachelor’s degree that is no different from the degrees earned at the universities’ home campuses. MCC’s University Center makes earning an affordable bachelor’s degree more attainable without leaving McLennan County. Learn more at

Tarleton-Waco offers degree programs for working adults in a range of fields with classes in the evenings, daytime, weekends, and online. With more than 1,000 students in 30 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, Tarleton-Waco offers degrees in fields like nursing, criminal justice, social work, education, business, computer information systems, and more. Learn more at

In Waco, Texas Tech offers a “student-centered atmosphere of a smaller college with the academic resources of a Carnegie ‘very high research activity university.” Texas Tech, a Hispanic Serving Institution, serves more than 200 students with 16 majors and 27 minors offered for undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs on the MCC campus. Among other degree offerings, Texas Tech’s Waco site offers programs in high-demand fields such as communication studies, digital media and professional communication, sociology, biology, human sciences, education and public administration. Learn more at

Amazon’s Career Choice program has a selection process for third-party partner educators, choosing partners that are focused on helping employees through their education programs, assisting them with job placements, and overall offering education that leads to career success.

“We’re looking forward to MCC, Tarleton State University-Waco, and Texas Tech University coming on board as an education partner for Career Choice,” said Tammy Thieman, global program lead of the Amazon program. Hundreds of “best-in-class offerings available to our employees.”

“We’re committed to empowering our employees by providing them access to the education and training they need to grow their careers, whether that’s with us or elsewhere,” Thiamin said. “We have intentionally created a partner network of third-party educators and employers committed to providing excellent education, job placement resources, and continuous improvements to the experience. Today, over 80,000 Amazon employees around the world have participated in Career Choice and we’ve seen first-hand how it can transform their lives.”

For more information on Amazon’s Career Choice, visit:

The Ultimate Waco Gift Guide: Gifts for Enneagram Types

By Kelly Palmer

The Ultimate Waco Gift Guide. Y’all asked for a citywide holiday gift guide featuring beloved small businesses, so you know I had to deliver!

This year’s edition is an Enneagram Gift Guide, and each type offers three gift ideas featuring small businesses owned and operated by our neighbors. Price points are from $10 to $100, so you can find something for everyone on your list. All of the businesses highlighted here are locally owned, and the majority are also owned by women and/or people of color, with a few social enterprises, as well. Let’s #shopwaco and #shoplocal this holiday season.

Gifts for the Enneagram 1: The Reformer

Enneagram Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards.

Custom stationary from January Letter Press makes a great gift in helping them stay organized and professional looking.

Keeping a clean and organized home is hard, especially during the holidays, but a cleaning from SWEEP will sweep them off their feet! This is an especially good present if their love language is Acts of Service.

An Enneagram One also strives to have a perfect tree and decorations from World Cup Cafe and Fair Trade Market are a great way to achieve that.

Gifts for the Enneagram 2: The Helper

Enneagram Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. 

A Five Pack of classes from Yoga8 can help them take care of themselves instead of focusing on helping others. Since they are so used to caring for others it will mean a lot to them that you are helping them care for themselves.

A bouquet from Bloom Waco will also remind them how good it feels to be cared for and will be a lovely gift that is about them.

Since an Enneagram Two takes joy in helping others, they will love having a nice piece that makes it easier for them to celebrate themselves and others. This cake stand from Harper Design Co takes the cake on cake stands. This is an especially good present if their love language is Quality Time.

Gifts for the Type 3 Enneagram: The Achiever

Enneagram Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them.

A unique piece of art from local artist Christal Peterson will help any Type Three make sure their home or office stands out.

Alchemy Jewelry House features sterling silver and gold plated pieces that will ensure your Type Three is impressing everyone around them.

A bottle of Frisant Wine from Waco Wine Shoppe will be a great way for your Type Three to impress their guests at their next dinner or party.

Gifts for Type 4 Enneagram: The Individualist

Type Fours want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty.

A Custom Hat from Virgo & Co is a one-of-a-kind piece that will make them feel seen.

Leather Journals from MC Art Supplies are the perfect way to give your Type Four their main character moment. Are they writing a novel or a grocery list? Who cares? They look cool doing it.

Bring out your inner Cha-rista with Matcha powder from Cha Community and let your Type Four custom make their drinks exactly the way they like them. (Formerly known as Waco Cha).

Gifts for Type 5 Enneagram: The Investigator

Enneagram Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. Type Fives want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, at their best they are visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

A bottle of Malt Whiskey from Balcones Distilling will get their curiosity and creativity flowing.

Topographical Tumblers from Black Oak Art are unique, interesting pieces of art that will spark joy.

A trip to Central Goods will be like a trip to Disney for Enneagram Fives.

Gifts for Type 6 Enneagram: The Loyalist

The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation. Type Sixes want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety and insecurity.

A Waco Hat from Waco Hat Company will help them show off their hometown pride!

Type Sixes can be overthinkers and a hand-poured candle from Symphony Candle Co will help them relax and live in the moment!

Type Sixes love to solve problems and this puzzle from Fabled Bookshop will speak to their inner problem solver while in a way where they can relax and have fun.

Gifts for Enneagram Type 7: The Enthusiast

Enneagram Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical. They want to have fun and fear missing out on things that will be fun.

A Family Cameron Park Zoo membership is the perfect activity for Enneagram Sevens because it is fun and interactive. With a membership they can easily go anytime they feel like being spontaneous because there’s not a lot of planning involved.

Life is like a box of chocolate and these chocolates from Splendid Oaks will be a fun way for your type Seven to enjoy delicious chocolate in a way that feels like a mini adventure.

These retro earrings from The Black Daisy will make any outfit more fun!

Gifts for Type 8: The Challenger

Enneagram Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive. Type Eights want to be self-reliant, to prove their strength and resist weakness, to be important in their world, to dominate the environment, and to stay in control of their situation.

Axe Throwing at Waco Axe Company is the perfect way to demonstrate strength and control in a way that’s fun for everyone.

This bag from Wildland will help your Enneagram Eight keep everything together and under control in the most fashionable way.

Meal Prepping is so good for you but it can be extremely time consuming and overwhelming. Help your Enneagram Eight take control of their health and make sure they’re easting well to stay strong. This is an especially good present if their love language is Acts of Service.

Gifts for Enneagram Type 9: The Peacemaker

Enneagram Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

This hoodie from Clasé Vintage Goods is the perfect way to make everyone know their deepest desire is to see everyone happy!

The Winter Nourishing Gift Set from Lovely Enterprises is the perfect way to show your Enneagram Type 9 that you understand their desires of bringing peace by supporting a great local nonprofit that supports women who are survivors of abuse.

Coffee from Be Kind Coffee is the best way for your Enneagram 9 to start their morning off on the right foot and to remind them above all to just be kind.

Kelly Palmer is a licensed social worker, educator, and member of the Waco City Council.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster.

Waco-born business sticks, with help from students

By Cory Dickman

I met Thomas Ellis at church back in the Fall of 2006. I was a freshman at Baylor and had no idea that 13 years later, we were going to start Waco Axe Co., the city’s first axe-throwing venue. Thomas and I, along with fellow partners Cody Beeler and Jared Dauenhauer, embarked on this journey of entrepreneurship and axe throwing.

Students from the Triple Win training program construct an axe-throwing trailer for Waco Axe Co.

We leased a space on Washington Avenue and began the buildout of our venue, but when construction was taking longer than expected, we came up with an idea to build a mobile axe-throwing trailer. This would allow us to run events and tailgates, expand marketing, and most importantly, keep us busy during construction.

We approached Clay Springer and Triple Win Waco, a work-based learning apprenticeship program, about partnering with students to construct the trailer. The students would get paid for the hours they put in while earning valuable certifications along the way. Triple Win recruited students from Rapoport Academy and Connally Career Tech to join the project and after a build time of just three months, Waco’s first axe throwing-venue now had Waco’s first and only axe-throwing trailer.

The mobile axe trailer turned out to be a major success. We broke even on the project after four months of operation and just in time for our venue to open up on Feb. 14, 2020. Over the next 27 days, we experienced a lot of traffic from both local Wacoans and our tourist population. Then on the 28th day, the axes had to be put away as the Covid-19 pandemic began ramping up. For us, much like everyone else, the rest of 2020 was a blur. From a business perspective, we all lost employees, revenue, and a sense of time. 

It wasn’t until Christmas break of 2020 that sales began to increase as people became more comfortable going out in public again. We were feeling (axe)cited and ready to hit (the mark) in 2021. One of our regulars, Gib Reynolds from Startup Waco, approached us regarding the Kiva program. Kiva is a nonprofit designed to help crowd source funding for entrepreneurs and allow the community to invest in businesses.

We applied for the program and were accepted up to $15,000. We decided to use those funds to build not one but two more axe trailers following the notable performance of the initial trailer. Because the experience working with Triple Win students was so positive and their team developed expertise on our product, we partnered with the organization again to complete our additional trailers. Triple Win had a new design in mind that would allow us to accommodate more people by having eight axe targets per trailer. The design was creative, innovative, and bigger (much bigger) than the first trailer. 

Triple Win was awarded a Summer Career and Technical Education Grant, $30,000 of which was designated to Waco Axe as a project of value. Triple Win recruited an amazing team of students from Rapoport Academy including Azel Rodriguez, Mikayla Lee, Haven Roanke, Harris Cook, Devin Weaver, Caden Sullivan, and Rafi Pena. These students earned their OSHA 30 certifications and gained invaluable experience in welding, metalworking, computer-aided design (CAD), and soft skills like communicating with their employer. Not only do the students get to put together a cool project with their friends, they also see how their hard work directly impacts a local small business. 

The basic goal of axe throwing is to get the axe to stick on the bullseye, but when you’re just learning, it can be the hardest skill to complete. There’s failure at first, but with hard work and determination, the axe will stick and the sense of accomplishment is unmatched. Taking an idea and creating a product from the ground up can feel like trying to get that axe to stick. But when we as a business partner with ambitious students who are eager to learn, we try, fail, and eventually get it right — together. Combine local students and a company that loves to serve the community and you get a Waco-born business that sticks. 

Cory Dickman is owner/founder of Rogue Capital, a company that invests in and supports entrepreneurs in their business ventures. He has founded or co-founded several businesses, including Rogue Media Network, Nexus E-sports, Waco Pedal Tours, Waco Escape Rooms, and Waco Axe. An Oregon Native, Cory originally moved to Waco to go to Baylor University. He moved back in 2015 to start the Waco Escape Rooms. Cory also serves on the Board of Act Locally Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Entrepreneur applauds & helps Waco business development

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Lakesyn Melia

Veronicka Thompson-Smith came from a small town in Oklahoma to Waco in fall of 2002 as a freshman undergraduate student at Baylor University. The city has made quite the impression on her, as the longest she’s been away since her arrival was a six-month internship. 

Veronicka Thompson-Smith

After graduating, she spent 10 years working in the admissions office for the university. In January this year, she accepted a role as an executive assistant at Magnolia. She is also a board member of the Waco Downtown Farmers Market and the Amberley Collaborative, a local nonprofit that works to strengthen support systems for individuals who face challenges, such as disabilities, in the community.

Thompson-Smith also leads the Waco chapter of TuesdaysTogether, an organization created for creative entrepreneurs to connect and to foster community over competition.

“One of the reasons why I love Waco is just the opportunities,” she said. “When I came here in 2002, Waco definitely wasn’t what it is now. You just didn’t have the growth you have now.” 

As an entrepreneur, Thompson-Smith said she has seen Waco become a hub for people wanting to start their own businesses. She said she believes the timing was just right for the city and Wacoans. The emergence of the Magnolia business has helped, but what the local residents had to offer was the biggest contributor. 

“I’ve seen it go from no food trucks at all to now: Union Hall, Food Truck Park, and all these different generations of Waco and even Baylor,” she said. 

The city of Waco has seen a multitude of locally-owned businesses emerge in the past few years, and Thompson-Smith has been a major part of two of them. She started her own business, Flower and Ink Designs, in 2017 and took the position as community director of WacoWork in 2019. 

After graduating from Baylor with a degree in apparel design, she did not pursue her creative skills until she created Flower and Ink Designs. She has seen support through the Waco community throughout her 18 years living here. 

One of the aspects of Waco that Thompson-Smith appreciates is the size. She said that being able to see people you know wherever you go is comforting, and the community is special. She spent the past few months helping as treasurer for Councilwoman Kelly Palmer’s campaign, an opportunity only a city like Waco would make so accessible. 

Through her involvement in the community, Thompson-Smith has seen Waco in a completely different light. The business opportunities have helped her build relationships with people around her and participate in the continuing growth of the city. Her contributions are just one example of how someone got involved and enjoyed every part of it. 

Lakesyn Melia is a sophomore political science and public relations student at Baylor University, originally from Franklin, Tenn.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Towny: 1 EASY Way to Benefit Yourself, Your City, Your Neighbor TODAY!

By Hannah Franzen

Spending locally matters more than you might think. Local investment, as you Act Locally readers probably already know, helps to create jobs, support vital community services, and strengthen economies. So, high-five! When you spend your hard-earned dollars at Cheddar Box or La Fiesta or Katie’s Custard or other locally owned businesses — 50% of your purchase goes right back into the bettering of your city. That feels good, right?

Didn’t want another day (or another one of your dollars) to go by without you being aware: there’s a free, app that makes it easier than ever to shop local and save money at the same time.

Let me introduce you to Towny. Towny’s a mobile app (it lives in your phone) that helps you discover and support Waco. It lists our city’s local, independently owned businesses and showcases promotions certain businesses have to offer. You just have to download the app, which is free.

(Sidenote: I was shocked when saw what kinds of “deals” we talkin bout. 50% off where I already go for juice?! 10% off entire purchase at a shop I discovered on the app? Yes, please.)

But it’s not just food and boutiques. It’s auto shops, entertainment, and your local holistic health centers. You’re going to see how helpful it is – to Waco and your wallet.

As a native of Waco, I feel privileged to get an inside look at the entrepreneurial development that’s happening all around us. Mortar and hard hats abound! My co-workers and I that live in Waco (Beth Whittington and Jordan and Jessica Chappell), are thrilled at the opportunity we have to INCREASE connection and communication from local business to consumer and vice versa. 

Sooo, Big Picture: What Is Towny? 

Each local business here has a story and they want locals to find them. Over 90% of us begin any shopping/eating/purchasing relationship on our mobile phones…that can give big chain businesses a big advantage.  They can afford to reach us on our phones, through big advertising. But a local business often doesn’t have a web and graphics team or a huge marketing budget, so 90% of locally-owned businesses have nothing optimized for how consumers begin: on your phone.

It’s not that consumers don’t want to know – they just don’t. Most people love the concept of “support local,” but may not know what to do beyond a bumper sticker.

This is important: Towny attempts to tackle that by forming a coalition of locally-owned businesses in a city, who can more effectively afford a mobile and marketing presence by banding together and pooling some resources.

Towny’s a connector. We connect:

  • Local businesses to consumers
  • Consumers to businesses
  • Communities to their own stories

 We’re About the People

Our founder and CEO, Don Shafer, identified this problem by working with local communities and their local banks for the past thirty years. It gave him face-to-face encounters with thousands of business owners. Since starting Towny two years ago, we’ve personally spoken with over 3,700 business owners to understand their challenges, needs, and stories.

“Let’s connect consumers in a city with their local business community,” we said, and haven’t looked back.

Don’t Miss a Beat

We are super excited to be partnering with Act Locally Waco.  In the coming months we will be working together to help share the stories of some of Waco’s locally owned businesses.

Meanwhile, grab your phone and download the Towny Rewards app before you forget. Yep, search “Towny Rewards” in your app store. It’s worth it! Spread the word to your Waco peeps (forward this! share this! DM this!) so they, too, can understand the importance of shopping local and thank you later for it! Annnd if you’d like to stay connected to us click here. You won’t miss a thing. ‘Til next time!

Hannah Franzen is a business growth strategist at Towny. As a Waco native, she loves the opportunity of diving deeper into the local business makeup of Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

2018 Greatest Hits #3: What is “Co-working space?” and Why does Waco need it?

(During these last few weeks of December we will be reprising the Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts for 2018 from the Act Locally Waco blog. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorites – so I used the simple (cop out?)  approach of pulling up the 10 blog posts that got the most “opens” according to our Google Analytics.  It is an intriguing collection that gives at least a little insight into the interests and concerns of Act Locally Waco readers. I hope this “Top 10” idea inspires you to go back and re-read your personal favorites.  There have been so many terrific ones… If you would like to see the Top 10 according to Google Analytics, here’s the link: Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts of 2018.  Merry Christmas! — ABT)

By Caroline Thornton

After graduating from Baylor in 2016, I decided to make Waco my home.  I sensed an entrepreneurial movement growing in Waco. I began to see many of my friends –  young professionals – were choosing to stay in town. They were staying not just for grad school, but because they saw what this town offered and they saw opportunities to give to the city through their personal and professional lives. This excited every fiber within me! I had always seen what Waco has to offer when you dive head first into involvement in the city.

I decided to join the movement by starting my own business. I started a company called “Second Me.” We offered services to help people do their “to do” lists. I hired college students to work for me and began managing lots of schedules! As it grew I saw the potential it had to become something big. The bigger it got the more I was confident I did not want to be the one to drive it to become a national business. After two years of my company, I felt at peace to find the next thing in my career.

When I decided to put my business to rest, little did I know I would get to be an integral part of making co-working space in Waco a reality.

A little over a year ago I heard a podcast from the founders of a national co-working space company called, WeWork. I immediately felt this concept could be a part of taking the entrepreneur movement in Waco to the next level.

Since graduating I had noticed groups of creative, entrepreneurial people who were enthusiastic about all things Waco. I started immersing myself in several of them. I also noticed that these groups of people didn’t really have a place to call “home” for work. Many are freelancers, have start-up businesses, or work remotely. Being a business owner myself, I noticed how we were all working all over town at different places, but no place existed that allowed us to truly root ourselves and our work.

After making my decision to leave Second Me,  I took on a babysitting job and discovered that  the dad of the kids I was watching and his business partners were developers in the city. I began talking about our need for a co-working space. I shared articles, podcasts, books, and statistics of what co-working is and why we need it.  They agreed.  We needed that kind of space in Waco. Coincidentally they, Duelge Holdings, had just purchased their second building downtown on Columbus and 6th street (the first being Mary Avenue Market).  They asked me if I would help develop the idea and educate the community on the concept of “co-working,” and then help run the space once it was open.

I eagerly said, “YES!” And, with that, started the most fun part, so far, of my professional journey.

What exactly is “co-working?”

By 2020, 40% of the workforce will be freelancers, independent contractors, and solopreneurs. Collaboration and sharing are growing all around us, partly due to the possibilities created by new technologies and partly due to changes in the current work and corporate structures. Companies are getting smaller, but at the same time more productive and competitive. People are making their work places more collaborative within their companies, and are also breaking the borders by joining other companies.  All this is an effort not only to reduce expenses, but to create a more dynamic, creative, and happy workplaces. This is the heart of co-working – to share expenses, but also to be a part of a community that networks and collaborates so everyone benefits from it.

Is this a trend? Will it pass? I don’t think so.  Co-working responds to a deep need. The structures of work in our society are changing and with them the needs of workers, namely freelancers and entrepreneurs. Co-working responds to these fundamental changes and will keep growing in cities around the globe – and here in Waco.

Our team has been dreaming together about how to make our space, WACOWORK,  the best possible space for helping the entrepreneurial spirit take root in Waco. To us at WACOWORK, it’s creating a collaborative work environment for startups, freelancers, small companies, and remote employees to share resources and ideas as one working community. Our vision for WACOWORK is to see connections, relationships, and opportunities form through our space. We aim for the community within WACOWORK to be dynamic and innovative, exemplifying the power that happens when professionals with all different kinds of businesses work alongside one another. The aesthetics of the WACOWORK space reflects the connectivity, creativity, and productivity we hope to stimulate — its a bit quirky to help make every day at the office a memorable one.

WACOWORK is going to be a place for taking big risks and doing things that are a little off-kilter. We aim to house members that are bold, innovative, and welcoming.  Waco is a city ripe with opportunity, and I cannot wait to unearth all of the exciting things to come through Waco’s first coworking space, WACOWORK.

If this sounds like something you think would work well for your entrepreneurial venture, feel free to contact me at 254.304.9368.  Hit me up, let’s get coffee, I want to meet you!

After graduation from Baylor in 2012, Caroline Thornton decided to stay in Waco.  Seeing the opportunity for some creative endeavors, she first opened “Second Me” a company that aimed to do peoples’ to do lists – from running errands to tasks around the house.  Here next venture it to help manage the “WacoWork” coworking space at 600 Columbus Avenue Suite 106. She encourages everyone she meets to take a chance – be a creator in Waco, not just a consumer!