AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo has been listed as the second fastest-growing economy among the top 100 midsized cities in the U.S.

That’s according to the February 2023 report by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

“The Amarillo area is our second fastest-growing economy estimated in 2023, topped only by by Midland,” said Gerald Cohen, chief economist at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. “What we’re noticing is that, you know, a lot of this has to do with the economic activity around the energy sector, in particular around the refinery sector in Borger, that’s a big driver of what’s going on.”

Cohen said the Amarillo area economy relies heavily on the oil industry, which can be both a benefit and a challenge.

“What’s happened in Amarillo is, you know, that even with the price cycle, you’ve seen a general increase in activity around the energy sector and in the area and so that has kept the economies growing, even when energy prices fell,” Cohen said.

According to the report, Amarillo also has a diverse set of industries, including meatpacking, petroleum extraction, agriculture and logistics.

“I have to give it to our city leaders. You know, probably 30 years ago, obviously Bell was a big part of that, but we diversified away from oil and gas,” said Kevin Carter, President and CEO of the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation. “It’s still a large part of our economy, but it’s not all of our economy and we’re very fortunate for that.”

He continued, “And those leaders you know, had the foresight you know, now we’ve got aerospace and aviation, we have food processing, we have a lot of manufacturing.”

Carter said while the AEDC hopes to use the report as a recruiting tool, they will also have to continue to be selective about the projects they try to bring to Amarillo as unemployment remains low.

“People are going to see that and they’re going to say, ‘You know, hey, there’s a lot of opportunity in Amarillo, Texas. Let’s go look at Amarillo, and let’s see about, you know, maybe moving there,'” he added. “Because that’s one of the things we’ve got to do, we’ve got to grow our population in certain segments to to fulfill those jobs that, you know, we’ve been lucky enough to create.”

According to the report, Amarillo had the lowest unemployment level in the state in 2022 at 2.6%.

The report also states that, “The city has really taken off since the pandemic; fiscal 2021
marked the city’s strongest economic growth in 30 years and brought in record sales
tax revenue, which it then used to fund business incentives through the Amarillo
Economic Development Corp.”

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