Mike Copeland: Waco Jobs, Spending Growth; Airport renovation; TSTC donation; Overview of building permits | Local business news

A rendering by CaCo Architecture, presented to the Waco City Council in May, shows plans for the security checkpoint at Waco Regional Airport.

City of Waco, provided

Waco’s unemployment rate continues to fall, which is a good thing.

Nearly 5,000 more residents living in Falls and McLennan counties were employed in December compared to December of the previous year, according to figures released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission. The unemployment rate in the Waco metropolitan statistical area fell to 3.5% last month, from 3.9% in November and well below December’s 5.6% a year earlier.

Texas’ unemployment rate in December slipped to 4.3%, not seasonally adjusted. The state added 694,000 jobs last year.

In November, locals eased into a holiday spending spree. The Texas Comptroller’s Office sent Waco a $4.5 million sales tax rebate in January, reflecting retail sales in November and reported in December.

That’s 36% more than the $3.3 million discount in January of last year.

Port Freight Opening

Harbor Freight Tools will open a new Bellmead store on the morning of Feb. 5, a Saturday, the California-based company announced. Located at 1000 N. Loop 340, it is the 103rd Harbor Freight store in Texas. It will employ around 30 people and operate seven days a week, according to a press release.

“At Harbor Freight, we recognize that now, more than ever, our customers depend on us for the tools they need to get the job done at an affordable price,” store manager Steven Riley said in the press release. The chain’s typical 15,000 square foot store sells automobiles, air and power tools, hand tools, shop equipment, generators and welding supplies.

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