Amarillo’s population has probably reached a milestone.
Based on current estimates the city likely topped 200,000 sometime over the last year, but we will not know the official number for another three years.
There’s an old saying that illustrates the importance of growth in just about any facet in life. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
If that’s the case, Amarillo is looking good in it’s latest checkups.
The official population is less than 191,000 but according to Census Bureau estimates, that number has increased significantly since 2010 to 199,582.
That makes Amarillo the 116th largest city in the country, but that is based on last year’s numbers.
According to growth from 2010 to 2016, Amarillo’s population likely surpassed the 200,000 mark sometime in the last year to an estimated 200,983.
“It’s been phrased to me as going from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in the ocean,” said Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller.
That big ocean means more opportunities. Like more access to transportation funding.
There is a downside.
“We’re going to be competing for that money against some very large and fast-growing large metropolitan areas,” continued Miller.
Cities like Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.
However, being smaller has its advantages.
“Because we can make a serious impact with our transportation landscape with a smaller dollar amount than say a Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio, we think that we will still be able to compete in a way that will benefit our area,” added Miller.
There is also the possibility of losing transit funding that helps operate the city’s bus system.
“We anticipate that over the next handful of years, we’re going to receive the same amount of money for operations, but we anticipate we will receive less money for infrastructure acquisitions like new buses and things like that,” Miller said.
Economically speaking, Amarillo reached the 200,000 mark years ago, because ours is considered a regional economy that includes much of the Texas Panhandle, Eastern New Mexico, and the Oklahoma Panhandle.
“A lot of industries and a lot of retailers, they don’t look at city limits, but it does trigger attention,” said Barry Albrecht, President of the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation.
Albrecht said some franchises will not even look at a city for expansion unless it reaches a certain mark, but he says Amarillo is not in that boat.
“Realistically, the services and the retail that’s here is looking at the region, which serve about 400 thousand people,” said Albrecht.
Downtown growth and the addition of a minor league affiliated baseball team add to that image.
That is something city leaders say will not only add to our economic growth but also to our overall population.
“Private dollars invested where we’ve spent public money means we spent money in the right way,” said Miller.
While Amarillo is growing, it is not doing it as fast as other metropolitan areas in the state.
Miller said Amarillo’s growth rate has hovered at a little less than one percent annually over the last few years.