Signs that read, "coming soon," or bustling sounds of construction crews moving dirt continue to signal the growth actively taking place throughout Ellis County.
And numbers recently released by the U.S. Small Business Administration reflect the change that is taking place within the community.
The SBA states that Ellis County small businesses, specifically, received a record year in SBA financing. In the 2017 fiscal year, the county received over $16 million, which is up from more than $9 million in 2016 and more than $11 million in 2015. A total of 22 small business received loans in the county last year.
The SBA’s website states its function is to aid, counsel, assist and protect, insofar as is possible the interest of small business concerns. They also work with lenders to guarantee loans for small businesses.
“What is driving that is we have an aggressive small business development center in the area that is in Navarro County. They have been working very closely with the community out there,“ Ahmad Goree, Chief of Economic Development for the SBA’s Dallas Fort Worth District, said. “The small business development center is a resource partner that we fund. It provides counseling services to small businesses. They have been a very aggressive SBC engaging the lenders with the small businesses and the small businesses with the lenders. We believe that has attributed to the small loans in your area in the past year.”
Goree shared that in the DFW district this year loans have helped to create 9,759 jobs in such industries as retail, hotels and motels, restaurants, and construction. These loans have funded 316 franchised businesses and 888 new businesses.
Among the SBA’s 68 district offices nationally, the DFW district ranks fifth in dollar value of loans, after Los Angeles, Georgia, South Florida and Santa Ana, and ranks eighth in units of loans after New York, Los Angeles, South Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and Illinois.
Growth in Ellis County
Waxahachie City Manager Michael Scott stated that the increase in population coming into the city is what is driving business development.
“For a long time, industry was the bread and butter for our community. Some of those big industries have expanded, which is a good indicator, but a lot of the small businesses the mom and pop’s and the startups seems more and more common. I think that it is really a sign of the times,” Scott explained. “We have got all the rooftops that are being built and the population growth that is continuing to move this way. It is a natural progression of a growing community having these smaller businesses pop up. I think that it is a good indicator for our community.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, Ellis County, as of July 1, 2016, has an estimated population of 168,499. This is a 12.6 percent increase from the April 2010 population estimate of 149,597. The census bureau also estimates total retail sales per capita for 2012 at $9,478.
Scott stated a factor that has attributed to the growth are the new amenities that it has to offer to potential residents, developers, and businesses.
“You think about the new high school that is being built and there is a proposition for a natatorium to be built. We have the relocation and expansion of the hospital. It is all of these things that make for a vibrant community," Scott remarked."Those are all good signs that encourage folks to make an investment and say ‘I can start a business and be successful here and want to be in Waxahachie because the community is growing.'"
Scott added that it is not just new small businesses coming into the community but it is existing businesses that are reinvesting into the community.
Scott noted that Two Amigos Taqueria on West Jefferson Street in the downtown business district is one that is making that reinvestment. Two Amigos’s new building is going to be located on Monroe Street next to the new townhomes that are currently under construction. The building is going to be 2,000 square feet as compared to its current location that only has 1,200. The dining area is going to have 20 tables and an outside patio. Currently, the restaurant only has 14 tables.
Two Amigo's owner, Rogelio Aguilar, previously stated that growth in downtown has brought in more people to his restaurant and that the changes taking place in historic Waxahachie are good for the city's future.
Chris Wilkinson, co-owner of Farm Luck Soda Found and Dry Goods, opened his restaurant on West Franklin Street in downtown a year ago.
“What we looked at beforehand was the demographics and Waxahachie is a very family-oriented town. It is getting bigger, so there is tons of room for growth. We really liked that,” Wilkinson said. “When we decided to go into business we decided to look at home, which was the best place straight off the bat. Waxahachie has a lot of opportunities. From what I can gather we are going to get a big population boom with the new high school and all the new stuff that is coming across. So I think that there is huge potential for growth for small businesses.”
Wilkinson noted while the work has been tough it has been rewarding.
“We have had a lot good regular customers. Surprisingly we get a lot of customers outside of Waxahachie,” Wilkinson explained. “We are getting a whole demographic that we didn’t expect. Not only we are getting people from Waxahachie coming but we are getting destination traffic.”
For more information about the U.S. Small Business Administration go to its website at www.sba.gov. People can also call the SBA’s district office in Fort Worth at 817-684-5500.