On Wednesday, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) hosted its annual “State of the Economy” event, touting the steady growth that occurred in the city over the last year.
Mayor Ginger Nelson gave opening remarks, praising legislators’ efforts in the approval of the Interstate 27 expansion project and its future impact on the city of Amarillo.
“This is a huge domino to fall for us,” Nelson said. “We have been working for decades for this big step.”
Nelson said the economic potential that this project will create would be substantial for Amarillo and the entire Panhandle. She also praised the leadership efforts in the city in bringing new business to Amarillo.
“This is a peak season and opportunity for growth for our city,” Nelson said. “This is not true for every city in Texas.”
Headlining the AEDC event as its keynote speaker was Dr. Anne Macy, a professor of finance at West Texas A&M. Macy started her speech by asking the crowd about their level of happiness and relating that to how it relates to the state of the economy.
Macy spoke to the effect that COVID-19 had on the economy but touted the return to economic growth as the effects have dissipated.
“Coming out of COVID-19 right now, we are performing well,” Macy said. “If you look at consumer confidence nationwide with what it is, I think Amarillo is in a good place. We have a lot of good pieces in place in this community.”
During the presentation, AEDC President Kevin Carter pointed out that the city of Amarillo was able to make significant economic growth in 2021 coming out of the pandemic.
“We’re the only city over 50,000 with 20 months of continuous sales tax growth. That’s a huge indication of how well our economy is doing,” Carter said.
According to the AEDC, Amarillo saw $91,925,630 in sales tax collection and $8,717,588 in hotel/motel tax collection in 2021.
Carter spoke at length during the presentation about six major economic projects that the AEDC was able to bring to Amarillo.
Among those projects was an Amazon fulfillment center, expected to create 500 jobs for the community with over $100 million in capital investment, and Cacique Foods, with a processing facility that will bring 200 new jobs with about $88 million in capital investment to the area.
The AEDC announced that the American Quarter Horse Association has agreed to extend its commitment to Amarillo for 10 more years.
Other major projects added to the city were the North Heights Linen Service adding 200 jobs, Torkworx adding 80 new jobs and RCC Brass contributing 50 new jobs.
In total, these projects created 930 jobs and $34 million in new payroll with $201 million in capital investment. The AEDC invested $16 million toward these projects.
“We have come out of the pandemic in relatively good shape compared to the rest of the country,” Carter said.
Carter said there were many areas that Amarillo has an opportunity to capitalize on. He stressed that innovation and technology jobs were an area where the city is poised to make more inroads in those industries to the effects on current industries that innovation and technology have.
When asked about the city’s efforts to increase minority-owned businesses, Carter said that his office is always looking for new opportunities.
“We have a very diverse population, and we certainly want to be diverse in our opportunities,” Carter said. “We have not just sought out minority-owned businesses, but we certainly … with jobs that we try to create; we have companies that will be equitable and have opportunities for minorities with their jobs.”
Carter said they would love to have more minority-owned businesses such as Cacique Foods, founded by Cuban immigrants in 1973. Cacique is the leading brand of Hispanic style cheese and has committed to Amarillo with a processing and distribution facility.
“Amarillo is a great product. We have a great quality of life,” Carter said. “There are certainly some things that we can improve on that or make better, and we will continue to do that.”
Carter also said that the AEDC had announced a new hiring platform for the city.
“We’re adding a new platform that’s going kick off this next week. It’s called Job Up,” he said. “And it allows it to be more of a job matching than a job board.”
“Texas has had, you know, has a great climate for business and Amarillo, we think even capitalizes on that even more,” Carter added.
This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Amarillo touts economic growth during AEDC ‘State of the Economy’