About Greater Waco
The Waco Region includes McLennan and six contiguous counties. Waco is the largest of 20 cities in the one-county McLennan County Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Population (2010) Waco Region, 715,080; Waco MSA, 234,906
Growth (2000-2010) Waco MSA +16%
Waco is one of seven metropolitan areas in the Texas Triangle megaregion. The others are Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington; Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood; Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos; San Antonio-New Braunfels; Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown; and College Station-Bryan.
Greater Waco is a great place to live and work with an outstanding array of community assets—from arts to education and from big-time college sports to recreation—coupled with a strong, diverse and growing economy to support further improvements in its quality of life.
Baylor University, Texas State Technical College Waco and McLennan Community College prepare our workforce and contribute to the richness of community life not found in many mid-size communities.
Residents and visitors enjoy concerts, theatre, lectures, Big 12 athletics (think Robert Griffin III, winner of the Heisman Trophy and the No. 1 ranked Lady Bears basketball team!) and museums. Some choose to continue their education or get an advanced degree here!
We are proud of our symphony orchestra—now celebrating its 50th season. But we also kickback at the annual Heart O’ Texas Fair and All American ProRodeo Finals and enjoy horse shows and livestock shows 50 weeks a year! And there are festivals, farmers markets, running (and walking!) events and tournaments almost every weekend.
Greater Waco also has two non-profit acute-care hospitals and three networks of clinics, and we have the requisite retail offerings from shopping malls to main street boutiques.
Being within a 90-minute drive of Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin and their tremendous cultural, healthcare and retail magnets is definitely a plus. But as you will soon learn, we are not dependent on those cities for the good life we enjoy in Greater Waco.
Deciding where to live in Greater Waco may take awhile because of the diversity of housing options—from historic homes in close-in neighborhoods to a Texas ranch! Lakeside and riverfront homes are attractive to many as are planned developments in our suburbs. Increasingly, young professionals and empty nesters are moving downtown where lofts and apartments enable residents to be “out and about” enjoying restaurants, parks, cultural amenities and the Brazos riverwalk. Expect to get your money’s worth here. Housing costs in Greater Waco are 84.4% of the national average.
The Brazos River is our best-known natural asset. Or is it Lake Waco? Or the Bosque River? Who knew there was so much water in Texas?
What’s on the horizon? Wacoans have been talking about and working to achieve a vibrant downtown and riverfront for years and it is now coming to fruition.
Construction begins this summer on a “signature” bridge on Interstate 35 at the Brazos River. The “extrados” bridge will be a progressive and memorable symbol of the city for the more than 111,000 travelers passing through Waco every day.
Baylor University has released an architectural rendering of a spectacular riverfront football stadium that would bring big football weekend crowds to the campus and downtown.
And plans are moving forward for hotels, residences, restaurants and shops along the Brazos riverwalk and on both sides of the river.
Down river, Hawaiian Falls will open one of its largest and most elaborately themed and landscaped water parks Memorial Day weekend 2012. Featuring two six-story slide complexes with a six-lane racer slide, several tube slides, a football field-sized wave pool and 800-foot lazy river winding through tall trees, the park is projected to have an annual attendance of 150,000 guests.
Waco’s economy is diverse with no dominant sector. Educational and Health Services at 18% is the largest sector followed by Trade, Transportation and Utilities at 17%, Government at 15% and Manufacturing at 14%.
Historically and during the great recession, Waco’s unemployment rate remained below state and national averages. And we have experienced net job growth during seven of the past 10 years. In fact Waco is one of only 34 of 372 metro areas in the United States to have exceeded its pre-recession employment, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2011.
|Providence Healthcare Network
|Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center
|City of Waco
|Sanderson Farms Inc.
|Examination Management Services, Inc. (EMSI)
|McLennan Community College
|Veterans Administration Medical Center
|Cargill Meat Solutions
|Texas State Technical College
|Veterans Affairs Regional Office
|United States Postal Service
|Texas Youth Commission - McLennan County SJCF
|Army and Air Force Exchange Service
Greater Waco is home to one university and two colleges with a total enrollment of 31,243. Additionally, we are at the center of the state’s highly educated future workforce with 344,729 students enrolled in four-year colleges and 219,178 students enrolled in two-year colleges within a 200-mile radius.
Baylor University ..................................................................15,029 students
McLennan Community College ............................................10,720 students
Texas State Technical College ..............................................5,494 students
University Center at MCC .......................................................1,000 students
Baylor, MCC and TSTC (plus cities, county and local chambers) are partners in the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaboration (BRIC) at the Central Texas Technology and Research Park under construction just north of downtown on U.S. 77. The BRIC promises to be a game-changer for Greater Waco in that it will make the region competitive for globally impactful, knowledge-based products and firms.
McLennan County has 18 school districts and four charter schools serving a total student population of 41,438. Following are the largest public school districts:
China Spring Independent School District .............................2,362 students
LaVega Independent School District..................................... 2,850 students
Midway Independent School District .....................................7,100 students
Waco Independent School District .......................................15,000 students
The area also has more than a dozen private and parochial schools. Private elementary and secondary education in McLennan County includes schools with a classical, parochial and/or college preparatory curriculum.
Two non-profit acute-care hospitals, Providence Healthcare Network and Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, offer state-of-the-art, full-service facilities for inpatient and outpatient care.
Greater Waco’s health care sector also includes Scott & White clinics supported by Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple.
The Family Health Center provides basic care for reduced fees, and the Central Texas Veterans Health System operates a VA Hospital in Waco.
Family Health Center ........................................... 452 employees, 12 locations
Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center Scott & White ... 1,793 employees, 310 beds
Providence Healthcare Network ........................ 2,618 employees, 301 beds
Scott & White Clinics .......................................... 359 employees, 5 locations
Veterans Administration Medical Center .................... 800 employees, 207 beds
Culture and Entertainment
Check out the Chamber’s WacoWeDoArts.com for a calendar ofmusical, visual and performing arts. Waco offers everything from rock to country to symphonies as well as sellout Broadway shows and locally produced plays.
Waco’s popular outdoor music venues include Indian Spring Park with its grassy-sloped amphitheater and the Bosque River Stage, a 530-seat amphitheater on the McLennan Community College campus.
The 8,000-seat Extraco Events Center, home of the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo, hosts special events and concerts during the nine-day Professional Rodeo Cowboys of America competition and throughout the year.
Live music also is played in nightclubs and bars throughout the city. The Waco Symphony Orchestra brings world-class performers to Waco Hall.
The Waco Civic Theatre produces six Main StageProductions annually, ranging from works by Shakespeare to Neil Simon. Additionally, aspiring local artists and youth work in partnership to produce Studio Shows that are scheduled between Main Stage Productions and other events. And outstanding theatre programs at McLennan Community College and Baylor University result in a full calendar of performances throughout the year.
Art Center Waco is housed in the historic, Mediterranean-style,William Cameron summer home. Studios overlook the Brazos River Valley, a beautiful natural setting conducive to creative learning and inspiration. In addition to regular exhibits, a two and one-half acre Sculpture Garden is open daily.
Across town, on the Baylor campus, the Martin Museum of Art brings outstanding art exhibitions, speakers and guest artists to Greater Waco. The museum’s permanent collection consists of approximately 1300 objects by such well-known artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Kathe Kollwitz, Francisco de Goya, and Edouard-Leon Cortes. Included in the collection are approximately 300 paintings representing famous watercolor artists such as George Post, Phil Dike, Edgar Whitney and John Marin.
Finally, the Greater Waco Chamber building features works by 27 Waco and Central Texas artists and includes oils, watercolors, acrylics, lithographs, photography, ceramics, textiles, sculpture and stained glass.
Rivers, Lake and Parks
As it winds its way through the center of Waco, the Brazos River creates the perfect location for a variety of attractions and outdoor activities ranging from the Texas Ranger Museum to the mountain biking and equestrian trails that twist and turn through Cameron Park.
With natural habitats and close up encounters, the Cameron Park Zoo includes more than 1,731 animals and 300 species. An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, zoo exhibits include the Asian Forest featuring critically endangered Orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Komodo Dragons.
Waco Regional Tennis & Fitness Center is an outstanding facility with a top-rated professional staff offering the finest in tennis programs and instruction for all levels.
Dubl-R Fields at Riverbend Park is one of the premiere softball and baseball facilities in the state. The park sits in a natural setting along the Bosque River and features eight fields for baseball and softball.
Lake Waco features boating, fishing, swimming and camping and is the source of Waco’s drinking water. The Lake Waco Wetlands was created to mitigate the habitat loss when Lake Waco was raised by seven feet. With the addition of the Research and Education Center, the Wetlands has become an important living laboratory for research, education and recreation.
The Waco Mammoth Site sits in a 100-plus-acre stretch of wooded parkland along the Bosque River. Covered in sprawling oak, mesquite and cedar trees, the site offers an escape from the modern world and provides a glimpse into the lives of Columbian mammoths.
Waco is in the heart of Texas with 81% of the state’s 23 million people living within 200 miles.
Interstate 35 traverses Waco and McLennan County, linking the region to Dallas and Fort Worth and on to Duluth, Minn. at the Canada border, and to Austin and San Antonio and on to Laredo just short of the Mexican border.
US 84 and Texas State Highway 6 are the region’s other primary highways. US 84 extends east to Georgia and west to Colorado while SH6 runs northwest to the Red River at the Texas-Oklahoma border and southeast through Bryan-College Station to Houston.
Air Transportation is provided from Waco Regional Airport (ACT) by American Eagle to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and by United Express to George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston. Waco Regional carriers beat national averages for on-time flights and offers free parking, fast security screening and four on-site rental car companies. DFW, Dallas Love Field, Killeen/Fort Hood and Austin-Bergstrom airports are also within driving distance.
Waco Transit provides safe and reliable public transportation service for the citizens of Waco and the surrounding communities. In addition to a fixed route bus service within the city, the Baylor University Shuttle operates on campus and between campus and downtown via the DASH and van service is available for individuals with special needs.