The City of Killeen is anticipating 28 new jobs and increased tax revenue from a new manufacturing plant scheduled to begin production in 2019. But, it will not be downtown. And, for years, the city has struggled to bring other businesses downtown.
Now, stakeholders are ramping up efforts to attract jobs and turn the city into a hub for small businesses. But, this time, they are getting creative with their methods -- offering incentives and trying to help foster a grassroots approach to filling the roughly forty properties that are either unoccupied or for sale downtown.
Part of the problem is that downtown store fronts are dirty and lack curb appeal. Some downtown business owners complained code enforcement does not always crack down on business violations as much as they would like. Without large investors appreciating the look of the area, they are not coming downtown, and thus, not pushing smaller businesses in, as well, according to business owners.
Multiple grant programs have been launched to attract business and investments by revitalizing the area's appearance. Those grants include a facade improvement grant program, a historic district sign grant program, and a downtown tax abatement program.
"My vision here is that people come here and invest in these properties, they can bring this street up...this downtown area, similar to Austin," Brick & Barrel owner Mike Austin said.
The downtown community held a meeting with local stakeholders and potential investors Thursday night.