By David Tuma, The Belton Journal
One of the top programs in Belton this past year was Grow Belton. It was a cooperative program started by the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC) and the Belton Economic Development Corporation (BEDC). Grow Belton was a series of workshops promoting small businesses. The workshops were designed to provide information to current and future business owners with information needED to survive in today’s business climate.
Grow Belton partnered with the Central Texas Business Resource Center. The workshops were conducted by Marcus Carr. “The program was for business owners to maintain or grow their business. It was also designed to provide information and ideas for those wishing to start up a business,” said BEDC Executive Director Cynthia Hernandez.
Staff members provided assistance to businesses in a retention program started a few years ago. “We we first started this program some businesses thought we were just trying to sell them something. The program helps get them in contact with resources needed to train and retain employees,” said Hernandez. Ana Borchardt was over the program which partnered with Temple College Division of Business. Meetings were held at CITCOG in Belton.
Matching grants are available to industry in Belton in the amount of $5,000. The grants are 50/50 for capital improvements. The grants can be used to assist companies with their investments. The grants are bases on performance measures and there is a proof based requirement. It is a way the BEDC supports business in the area. For significant investments there a larger programs available.
The BEDC is working with the City of Belton on opening up some property in and near the Rockwool Industries site. There is around 70 acres of land near Taylors Valley Road that may eventually be developed. There is a lot of work left to be done and there are several tracks of land that are not contaminated.
The Belton Business Park continues to see significant retail development. Several new retail businesses opened in the Belton Business Park in the past year.
They also partnered with the Governor’s office to sponsor the Governor’s Small Business Forum held on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s campus. The event was a region forum that included every major Chamber of Commerce in Bell County.
During the past year BEDC participated in a round table event along with the BISD. The round table was designed to let the school district know what local businesses have to offer. Some of events included students. “These meetings let administrators with the school district understand the skills needed to enter the workforce. It was partnership with BISD,” said Hernandez.
They are an active member of Texas One a program of the Texas Economic Development Corporation that promotes business expansion in the state. With a new governor there may be changes in how economic development is funded. State funding was a big part of CGI locating in Belton.