Find Your Waco: a twist on the classic job fair

By Meredith Palmer

What makes Waco, Waco? Is it the booming business climate? Maybe it’s the wide array of philanthropic organizations? Or the up-and-coming arts sector? The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce hopes to give people a glimpse of how Wacoans live through its second annual “Find Your Waco event.”

Find Your Waco is a “Life Fair” and a great place to learn about all things Waco.  The purpose of the “Life Fair” is to connect attendees to different components of the community. The 2019 Find Your Waco Life Fair will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Freedom Fountain and Waco Convention Center.

How does Find Your Waco differs from the “old-school” job fair? While this event does feature businesses and organizations offering employment opportunities, it also focuses on other outlets that make the Waco area an exciting place to live.

Find Your Waco consists of four “quads” which attendees are encouraged to explore. These include Find Your Tribe, Find Your Career, Find Your Space, and Find Your Flavor.

Find Your Tribe helps attendees connect with people and organizations in the area. There will be a variety of organizations present including, churches and religious groups, non-profits, fitness facilities, networking groups, and sporting groups.

Find Your Career encourages attendees to get plugged in with local employers. Participating employers may be looking for full time, part-time, or internships candidates from a range of fields such as education, healthcare, tech and manufacturing.

In Find Your Space, attendees can find out what life is like in Waco and look for a place to call “home.” Several real estate companies, apartment complexes, hotels, construction and roofing companies, banks and school districts will be present to inform attendees about the living climate in the area and explore financial options.

Find Your Flavor gives attendees a taste of the unique food services, culinary practices of the area. Industries represented will include restaurants, bars, wedding venues, sporting activity companies, grocers, and car dealerships. Find Your Waco is proudly partnering with Waco Food Hub, a local start-up creating a multi-station shared kitchen space for Waco food artisans, to showcase the variety of different eateries, wineries, craft breweries and food trucks in the area. This year, attendees can sample food and drinks from exhibitors in the Find Your Flavor quadrant.

Last year, around 500 attendees participated in the Find Your Waco life fair. Jennifer Branch, Director of Existing Industries & Workforce Development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, said this number exceeded expectations and demonstrates the need for such an event in Waco’s growing community. There is no charge for people to attend Find Your Waco and the Chamber is hopeful the event will draw in a large and diverse group of attendees to the life fair again this year.

Recent graduates, transitioning military veterans and their spouses, area visitors and traditional job seekers are encouraged to attend Find Your Waco. Last year, buses transported military veterans and their families between Fort Hood and Waco, so they could participate in Find Your Waco.

For locals, Find Your Waco is a great time to learn about different ways to get plugged into the community. Branch said she hopes attendees will learn about different things Waco has to offer from the wide range of exhibitors featured in the different sections of Find Your Waco.

Exhibitors who participate in Find Your Waco have the opportunity to find their next great employee, team member or volunteer and to network with other businesses and potential customers. For Manpower Central Texas, a career placement and development agency, Find Your Waco proved to be a great return on investment. Jodi Morgan, Business Manager for Manpower in Central Texas, said Find Your Waco opened up a new market for Manpower to explore. Over 110 people filled out interest forms at Find Your Waco, and Manpower was able to add nearly ten companies to their pipeline. “For any business that is on the fence about Find Your Waco, I’d encourage them to try it. You’ll get face time in a potentially untapped market,” Morgan said.

So, if you are new to or looking to move to the Waco area, have been here your whole life, or are somewhere in between, Find Your Waco is a great opportunity to show off your business or organization, network with others and learn more about Waco.   

Businesses that are members of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and of the McLennan County Chamber Alliance (MCCA) will receive discounted exhibitor booth prices. To register as an exhibitor or learn more about the Find Your Waco Life Fair, visit the Facebook event page (https://bit.ly/2LbOBNC) or contact Jennifer Branch at jbranch@wacochamber.com or (254) 757-5625.


Meredith Palmer had the opportunity to intern at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce this summer for the Marketing & Communications Team. She is a local Wacoan and graduated from China Spring High School. Meredith is a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin where she is studying journalism. Meredith enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling and reading.

 The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Top 10: On Rivers and Rye: a Farmers Market Update

Top 10  “Most Opened” Blog Posts of 2019: # 4

By Bethel Erickson-Bruce

Right now the perennial question for the Waco Downtown Farmers Market is:  WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO MOVE BACK TO THE RIVER? I answer by deflecting, like a good politician.  (If you really want the answer to the question of the river, please continue reading about all of the projects related to local food we are actually excited about – the river is addressed at the end).

First off – if you haven’t been to Market since we relocated to the Courthouse, you’re missing out.  Yes, it’s hot in summer. But we have more space for more vendors than we did down by the riverside. And much higher visibility than down by the good old riverside.

Second, we started a new thing.  Can’t make it on Saturdays to buy groceries?  We’ve got you covered. Now you can pre-order through our online store called Market in a Box.  We have all the local things – from honey to heavy whipping cream, mini loaves to mushrooms, peaches to purple hull peas.  We even have conveniently packaged $15 produce bundles – featuring 1 seasonal fruit and 4-5 seasonal veggies. Think of it as a multi-farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box without a subscription. Through this new online system we are able to work with local producers who are unable to participate at Saturday market – while reducing time expenditure of the producers and increasing everyone’s access to local produce and carefully crafted artisan food goods.  We hope to expand to more convenient bundles (like a Breakfast bundle with coffee and breakfast sausage) – and add more items like gristmill grains and bread subscriptions. Take a gander at our current offerings at: http://waco.localfoodmarketplace.com.

Third, we now distribute WIC vouchers to be used for locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables for families currently receiving benefits.  Without getting too high up on my political soapbox, let it be known that the amount of fresh produce (or canned) that a family on WIC receives is ridiculous.  Like $11 for the month for a family of 2 eligible WIC recipients. (I speak from my personal experience.) Through our partnership with Grow North Texas in Dallas, the Texas Department of Agriculture sponsors $30 in WIC vouchers for each eligible family member.  We can only distribute the vouchers once person Market season (defined by TDA as April-October) but as most families know, every dollar counts. As a recovering social worker, I’m delighted by any and all opportunities to increase access to – and affordability of  – locally grown fruits and veggies while at the same time supporting livelihoods of the farmers and their families growing our food.

Fourth, the rye bit.  If you love the market but: A) can’t wake up early on Saturday or B) can’t remember to place your online order by Monday at noon – we’ve got just the opportunity for you.  Join us at Balcones Distilling on Thursday, August 8th from 6-8pm for “Grains & Growers, a farmers market friend-raiser.” It costs $40 but you’ll receive a free cocktail a la Balcones or a mocktail a la Luna Juice.  And we have all the tastiest of finger foods from our friends at Milo All Day, Brazos Valley Cheese, Falk Bakery, Heritage Creamery. You’ll also be supporting the work of the Waco Downtown Farmers Market to strengthen our local food system – from the farmers to the folks on a food budget and the friendly faces opening fancy food establishments.  Tickets can be purchased through our Square page here: https://squareup.com/store/wdfm.

And now for the answer, you’ve all been waiting for – MAYBE IN TWO YEARS. MAYBE NEVER.  And you know what, that’s okay. We’ll happily keep running the farmers market each Saturday between the corners of 5th and 6th street in the shadows of the iconic Courthouse and ALICO buildings until some magical, farm-friendly, family-friendly opportunity presents itself.


Bethel Erickson-Bruce likes to eat and grow vegetables, run around with her wild little humans – Jasper Jack and Angus Augustus, and star-gaze with her husband (and Rapoport teacher) Jonathan.  She also runs the Waco Downtown Farmers Market.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.