The nonprofit group formerly known as the Waco Downtown Development Corp. is moving into 2016 with a more streamlined name intended to better describe what the agency does.
The new name, City Center Waco, reflects the nonprofit group’s mission to represent an expansive area in Waco’s historic core, executive director Megan Henderson said.
“One thing we continue to raise awareness about is that our target area is not just the central business district or Austin Avenue,” Henderson said.
The city of Waco helped launch the Waco Downtown Development Corp. in 2011 to implement the Imagine Waco Plan and is paying $239,000 this year to support it.
The area defined in the Imagine Waco Plan as Greater Downtown, now called City Center, stretches from Baylor University to Cameron Park and from North 25th Street to East Waco.
“What we’re hopeful of is that in time people will perceive the city center independently of us, so neighborhoods and business districts will think of themselves as city center neighborhoods and business districts,” Henderson said. “It’s not about us. We’re about it.”
Board members of the agency have been considering a name change for more than a year.
The legal entity known as Downtown Development Corp. actually dissolved last year in a merger with the nonprofit Heart of Texas Business Resource Center. By then, board members were ready to jettison the original name anyway, said Willard Still, past president of the board.
“It’s long and cumbersome,” he said. “And really, we don’t develop anything. We play a support role, but we’re not a developer. . . . I really like the (City Center) name. I can’t wait to see the logo.”
The name change arrives just after the agency moved into a newly renovated space at 801 Elm Ave., formerly the offices of the Business Resource Center. Still said he thinks the combination of a name change and a move will elevate the profile of City Center Waco.
“The building is outstanding,” Still said. “Now we have a place where we can receive important people who come to Waco who are wanting our assistance.”
Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr., who sits on the City Center Waco board, said he thinks the organization is living up to its promise.
“I think anyone on the board would tell you there was a lot of skepticism first about how it would work,” Duncan said.
He said the agency has brought together neighborhood groups, business people and community leaders to work together on a common vision for the central city.
“I think it’s that unity of mission and purpose,” Duncan said.