NEWTON - By Megan Dillard - With Election Day just around the corner, the economy is top of mind for many of you.
According to a Commerce Department report just out today, the economy grew 2% from July through September.
That's up from 1.3% in the previous quarter.
Analysts say consumer and government spending fueled the increase.
They say it might mean the economy is improving but the growth remains too weak to rapidly boost hiring.
We wanted to take the pulse of the economy in rural southeast Texas.
KFDM learned new businesses and more people in the workforce are providing a boost to the deep east Texas region.
"I think things are looking up in Newton."
Charles Wright just ate lunch at Newton's newest restaurant, a Mexican food place on the corner of the courthouse square.
"We've been waiting for a Mexican restaurant here for several years. There was talk about it several times and eventually it's happened so I think everybody's happy about that."
The new business is housed in a building with a long history.
"My family built the building in the early 1920s; my grandpa and his brother. There was an old cafe on this side and a grocery store on this other side."
Mayor Mark Bean says new business generates excitement and needed dollars.
"Our town is so poor and in trouble that any kind of business ought to be a good asset to our city."
An asset locals hope is the first of many.
"When you're a poor county like we are, I want to encourage anybody to come here that will."
County Judge Truman Dougharty says the new restaurant and recent renovations to other businesses in the square are signs of growth.
"The unemployment figures are down, people drawing unemployment benefits."
Judge Dougharty wants to take advantage of resources already available in the county, like an old plywood mill that at one point put 460 people to work.
"Anyone looking to manufacture anything, it'd be an ideal place."
The idea: to keep people in Newton.
"It's bad that your children grow up, graduate here, then have to leave and get jobs somewhere else."
So while people start working and businesses begin to open, these neighbors will stay hopeful about the upswing in their community.
"Our community is our heart, you know? That's what we love."
Judge Dougharty says the community is also excited about the opening of a new senior citizens center in Deweyville.