WACO, TX — Despite a pandemic, businesses have sustained, expanded, and some have even opened for the very first time, over the last year.
This shows Waco is holding strong after what some would describe as the worst year of their life.
Grit N' Grace started out online over the last two years. Owner Kelly Balderrama started it just for fun as a part time job. Before the pandemic was even a thought she quit her job and her part time work turned full time.
"The pandemic was super hard, I mean I had no job, and I had this side gig, but I couldn't find one it was a pandemic," Balderrama said.
She already had her online store and Facebook page so she started to do live sale events every week.
She gained a following and never looked back, calling it a blessing.
Balderrama is now running a brick and mortar.
Her doors have only been open for a week and she's amazed at the amount of support.
"They [customers] just hopped on board and it was a blessing for my family to be able to put food on the table and just grow a business that is more than just making money," Balderrama said.
Balderrama relies on her faith to grow her business and companionship with the community. She's grown to love her customers online and wanted to meet them all in person.
"The fact that we have a place where people can come, and Grit N' Grace is really about sharing our faith as well, I'm so sorry I get like teary eyed," Balderrama said.
Not only has her business grown over the years, we've seen many new store fronts pop up around town.
Senior VP for Economic Development at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Kris Collins, says 2021 is looking bright.
"I think people are in a better position and are planning better now," Collins said.
There's a trickle down effect as new businesses open.
It means more jobs, money and tourism to the community. The Chamber of Commerce says jobs are out there and employers are looking. On their website, they try to connect employer to employee.
You don't need to be a member to post a job or upload a resume.
"Job growth continues to be very strong in our marketplace," Collins said. "There are lots of jobs out there that are good strong paying jobs, that have lots of benefits and are eager to have their candidates come into their doorway."
The Chamber focuses on something called Primary Sector Job Creation as the economy grows.
"That is jobs that are created locally but supporting activity that pushes product and services outside of the community. So, it generates new local dollars," Collins said.
Managing a website, hosting Facebook lives and now running store, Balderrama has hope for the future.
"That's what this is about...that God has just blown it, blown it out of the water," Balderrama said, "I just could not be more blessed."