Waco-based Balcones Distilling continues to accumulate awards, this time scoring big at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, according to a press release from the whiskey maker at 225 S. 11th St.

Each of Balcones’ six entries took home a medal.

“1” Texas Single Malt, Texas Blue Corn Bourbon and Texas Single Malt Single Barrel, a lone cask of whiskey sold only in the distillery gift shop, earned Double Gold, according to the press release. True Blue 100 earned a Gold Medal, Baby Blue took Silver, and Brimstone fetched a Bronze.

“Balcones Distilling has been producing top award winners for years, but for 2017, they really cleaned up with three Double Gold Medals, which is the best of the best in the industry,” competition director Steven Wesler said in the press release.

Sears store in Richland Mall

The Sears store in Richland Mall, an anchor since the mall opened in 1980, has dodged another round of closings by its parent, Sears Holdings, which announced Friday it will shutter 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores in the near future, with liquidation sales starting Nov. 9.

Sears, once the go-to retailer for tools and appliances, has struggled with staggering revenue losses in recent years. In the past five years, the number of Sears stores has shrunk from 2,073 to 1,140, according to Business Insider.

Last week, Sears announced it is immediately slashing prices 10 to 50 percent on nearly all merchandise in anticipation of holiday shopping, according to USA Today. It urged shoppers to “avoid the Black Friday crunch,” referring to the customary start of holiday spending the day after Thanksgiving.

Small business loans

Local small businesses received 32 loans worth about $15 million in fiscal year 2017 through the Small Business Administration’s regional office that includes Waco, according to a press release.

The Dallas-Fort Worth District Office processed loans to 2,062 small businesses valued at $1.19 billion during the last fiscal year. More than 150 lenders and 12 Certified Development Companies provided funding for the loans, which topped $1 billion for the third straight year.

“Wells Fargo was again the top lender in dollars, ending the year with a record of $102 million. This volume has never been achieved by any other bank in the district,” regional director Herbert Austin said in the press release.

Professional of the Year

Kelley Perkins, director of marketing for Waco-based GENCO Federal Credit Union, was named Professional of the Year by the Cornerstone Credit Union League, an advocate for 550 member credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, according to a press release.

Kelley runs a one-woman department for a $280 million credit union with five locations in two counties. She is solely responsible for marketing, advertising, public relations, community involvement, local education and representation of the credit union in Waco and Lufkin.

She changed the credit union’s slogan to “My Money, My Future, My Credit Union,” and redesigned its website, according to the press release.

Under Perkins, GENCO assets have grown from $223 million to $279 million in five years; membership has grown from 32,589 to 36,425; 17 promotional campaigns exceeded goals; and she has been recognized twice by the Seifer Report, a trade publication, which lauded her website redesign and “auto blitz.”

Building permits

Building permits of note issued in the past two weeks include:

  • Turner Real Estate, three-story addition to the Waco Hippodrome, 724 Austin Ave., estimated cost $1.5 million.
  • Fusion Dental, finish out, 1605 Hewitt Drive, $239,000.
  • Magnolia Real Estate, pergola for Magnolia Table, 2132 S. Valley Mills Drive, the former Elite Cafe location, $100,000.

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