Business owners in East Waco have begun preparing for big changes that have already started in their part of town.
On Thursday, they got some help from an important source.
The Central Texas African-American Chamber of Commerce aims to help maintain diversity in the neighborhood and its business district.
For the last few years, Carr's Beauty Supply has worked hard to carve a niche in East Waco, create jobs and help neighbors.
Kimble Carr calls it her passion.
"I like the community, I like the people that are in the community, I love my customers," Carr said.
That's why she took careful notes at the Central Texas African American Chamber of Commerce Expo, just up the road from her Elm Avenue shop.
The expo brought together business owners and those with resources and help to offer in growing a business.
"We have those small businesses, those mom and pop shops, those small firms that are looking to grow and expand and help create jobs,” said Ahmad Goree, of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Administration loaned out 25 loans in McLennan County last fiscal year, totaling $15 million... and creating more than 100 jobs.
Thursday's seminar couldn't come at a better time.
As development projects keep spilling over from downtown, people here saw a need to help their own. To help give them a fighting chance against big-money developers who might push them out.
Neighbors here, worry all the changes in their neighborhood might leave them strangers on their own streets. So, Chamber leaders put together the program to give East Waco business owners the tools they need to compete.
"The community is under pressure to please a new market that is coming in, but also to stay true to the community and the citizens that have been here,” explained Rachel Pate, Central Texas African-American Chamber of Commerce.
And she says, who better to serve the needs of the neighborhood, than people already here.
She believes they can open businesses that complement those already on the drawing board, and help keep this neighborhood viable and diverse.
"We have to put our local people first, if we're not taking care of our own citizens, then how can we expect to take area of any business or any newcomers?” Pate asked.
So, that's why Carr listened carefully for tips to add to her business plan, so she can stay in business... for years to come, and remain a part of the fabric of East Waco and Elm Avenue.
"I bought a house in East Waco three years ago and I'm looking forward to being here the rest of my life, to raise my kids. It isn't going to get any easier, no it's not. I'm gonna work even harder,” Carr said.
Because she believes the path to prosperity for her business and East Waco, lies in staying one step ahead.
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