The state of Texas continues to flex its muscle in the economic development arena, according to Site Selection magazine.

For the fifth consecutive year, Texas has won the trade journal’s “Governor’s Cup,” “an award that is given annually to the top-performing state for capital investment and job creation,” according to a press release from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.

In 2016, Texas finished with 642 business relocations or expansions, giving the state its eighth cup since 2004.

“Texas’ economic climate, best-in-class workforce and entrepreneurial resilience has once again made the Lone Star State the top destination for capital investment, and I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the men and women who have made our state the beacon of economic opportunity in the United States,” Abbott said in the press release.

Dwyer Group wins award

The Waco-based Dwyer Group, which operates 14 franchise businesses with global sales of $1.4 billion, has won a 2017 Summit Award from The Riverside Co.

Riverside owns 85 companies and gave three of those companies its Summit Award during a recent conference in Orlando, Florida.

“To know the scope and depth of Riverside’s investments in companies around the world and be honored as one of the best performers speaks volumes about the Dwyer Group leadership team and the incredible success of our rapidly-growing network,” Dwyer President and CEO Mike Bidwell said in a press release.

Riverside, a private equity firm, initially invested in the Dwyer Group in 2003, holding and growing the company until 2010. It then reacquired the company in 2014.

When Riverside took over The Dwyer Group a second time, Dwyer had eight franchise brands and 1,600 franchise owners. Today, Dwyer has 16 consumer brands, and 14 of those are franchise brands represented by 2,800 franchise owners worldwide who enjoy $1.4 billion in annual sales, according to a company press release.

Businesses supported by The Dwyer Group include Mr. Appliance, Mr. Electric, Mr. Rooter, Window Genie, The Grounds Guys, Five Star Painting and Glass Doctor, among others.

Applebee’s promotion

The Waco-area Applebee’s restaurant will join others around the state in accepting all gift cards and coupons from all businesses, expired or not, during the month of March.

The restaurant will apply any paper, plastic or printed coupon or gift card for up to 50 percent off food, according to a company press release.

“This idea started when we were discussing how we could be an even better neighbor in the communities we serve,” Apple Texas CEO Chris Dharod wrote in the press release. “We realized a number of people have either expired gift cards, gift certificates or coupons to places they do not care to visit. So we had the idea to accept these at all our neighborhood Applebee’s.”

Captain Billy Whizzbang’s turns 40

Captain Billy Whizzbang’s is celebrating 40 years of serving what loyal customers think are the best hamburgers in Waco.

The burger joint at 901 Lake Air Drive has earned such a sterling reputation that it was featured on a recent telecast of “The Texas Bucket List.” The show is aired in 22 TV markets and showcases food and destinations around the Lone Star State that are not to be missed in one’s lifetime.

Whizzbang’s opened on Waco Drive in 1977, and the Mike Barton family named it after a character they created in a short story titled “The Intense, Emotional and Exciting Saga of Capt. Billy Whizzbang.” The restaurant’s location has changed twice, but the story is still featured on the walls of Whizzbang’s, owners Trent and Jennifer Newmann said.

Whizzbang’s offers hamburgers, sandwiches, steak fingers and turkey burgers, plus sides including sweet potato fries, Cajun chips and fried jalapenos. For those craving something sweet, it offers hand-spun milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream and fried apple or cream-cheese pies.

A specialty item on the menu is the Whizz-Pigg, which features a blend of hamburger meat and pork.

As the Texas Bucket List website puts it, “In Waco we go hog-wild at Captain Billy Whizzbang’s, a restaurant with a story as wild as the burgers they serve. The Whizz-Pigg, a burger made with two patties of 50-50 bacon and beef, puts us in hog heaven and leaves our taste buds squealing.”

Check cashing

Renovation of the former Alon convenience store at New Road and Valley Mills Drive is attracting lots of attention, and I’ve received several emails inquiring about what it is becoming.

Sources tell me PLS Financial Services is planning a check-cashing establishment, though they do not know when it will open.

Chicago-based PLS Financial Services operates 300 financial service centers in California, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, according to the company website.

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