McLennan County commissioners court

The empty McLennan County Commissioners Court space before a meeting.

Tribune-Herald reporter J.B. Smith wrote an extensive story Jan. 28 about a new organization dubbed Startup Waco.

But it was this week that McLennan County commissioners heard from the group themselves about their proposal.

Startup Waco came to the court seeking funding and to share their vision.

The Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corp., which is funded half by the county and half by the city of Waco, recommended up to $750,000 in incentives for the project. The recommendation needs approval from the city of Waco and from county commissioners before it moves forward.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Snell and Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Jones pushed for answers as to what the return on investment would be if the county agrees to help financially. They were looking for exact figures. Startup Waco said they would get that to them.

The money would go toward developing a center, called Hustle, in the Woolworth Suites building on Austin Avenue.

“Let me get this straight. You want us to give you $750,000 to renovate a building we don’t own?” Snell said.

Tate Christensen, Barsh Construction owner and one of the leaders of Startup Waco, said the move is cheaper than buying and building new.

Snell also pushed Startup Waco to seek funding from all the partners first who have pledged support.

"Maybe you don't need taxpayer money," he said.

The discussion was just that, a discussion. No word on when, or if, commissioners will vote on the funding request.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.