Baylor University

Lesly Rascoe

Baylor alumna plays integral role at Greater Waco Chamber

leslyrascoe

By Tyler Torwick, pre-business student

As the economy recovers and strengthens, so does the City of Waco. The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce works with the community, local businesses and global businesses alike to promote growth and employment within the city. Lesly D. Rascoe, vice president of communications, has worked with the chamber since 2005, and plays an integral role in their success. Working with global site selectors, marketing the city's workforce, and emphasizing the benefits of having a business in Waco, Rascoe has aided in the city's growth and restoration.

As a Baylor graduate, Rascoe came back to the writing for media markets course on Sept. 11, 2012 to speak about her profession. Her work for the city ties in seamlessly with the material covered in the course. Rascoe graduated Baylor University in 1988 earning a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science. She also has earned the Accredited in Public Relations credential. Due to her academic background, Rascoe has had a major impact on the way the Greater Waco Chamber operates.

It is a common misconception that a city's chamber is only responsible for providing visitors and tourists with maps and information about the city. On the contrary, she works hard to attract new jobs and maintain current jobs in Waco. Rascoe's collegues in the economic development division work hand in hand with site selectors and property developers to promote new infrastructure within the city.

As Ryan Haecker, a junior business major at Baylor University, said, "I was surprised by the new development and growth in the Waco downtown area."

Rascoe is constantly marketing the positive attributes of Waco. Utilizing her skills in marketing and public relations, Rascoe uses online resources as well as printed materials to reach as many people as possible about the potential the Waco community holds. The chamber's website, the chamber's quarterly magazine, online blogs and social networking websites all allow information to be spread to potential employers and people interested in the city.

Attracting businesses to the area is a difficult, but an important role of the Greater Waco Chamber. Companies like Caterpillar, Sanderson Farms Inc. and Mars Inc. already call Waco home. They employ thousands of people and utilize a large portion of the area's workforce. With the unemployment rate at 8.3 percent, keeping people employed and creating new jobs is critical.

The chamber also works with site selectors from around the world, not just here in Texas. Being able to emphasize what the area has to offer, such as a large workforce, close proximity to a major highway, and commercially zoned land and buildings helps to make Waco appear more attractive than surrounding cities. Large corporations and small businesses are important to the area, so attracting new companies and convincing them to make Waco their new home is key. Small businesses and huge companies have different needs, so catering to them and making sure their demands are met can be a challenge. Maintaining relations with existing businesses is another challenge Rascoe faces in her work with the Greater Waco Chamber. Keeping current businesses happy cannot be overlooked; their loyalty and support of the community are what the chamber is built upon.

Mitchell Thomas, a senior accounting major at Baylor University, said, "I found it interesting how important it is for chamber to communicate with

businesses around the community."

Reactions like this are a reminder of how easy it can be to focus on prospective businesses and forget about those that have been around for years. Rascoe said that making sure local businesses are not overshadowed by the excitement of huge corporations moving to Waco is one of her priorities. They are loyal to the community and their accomplishments and growth needs to be publicized, Rascoe said.

Rascoe and her colleagues at the Greater Waco Chamber work hard to promote the growth of Waco. Evident by the new businesses popping up every month, and the renovations taking place in downtown Waco, their efforts are showing.