Amar­illo: At the In­ter­sec­tion of Tra­di­tion & In­spi­ra­tion

Inc. (USA) - - LEAD -

When most peo­ple think of Amar­illo, Texas, im­ages of prairies, oil wells, cows, and tum­ble­weed come to mind.

How they ought to be think­ing of Amar­illo – now Texas’ 14th-largest city – is as a place where in­no­va­tion, cre­ativ­ity, and busi­ness thrive.

Amar­illo’s busi­ness lead­ers are break­ing new ground ev­ery day by at­tract­ing – and re­tain­ing – in­dus­tries as di­verse as aerospace, de­fense, the arts, food tech­nol­ogy, and med­i­cal re­search.

It’s all part of their am­bi­tious plan to re­po­si­tion the city as the Texas Pan­han­dle’s premier tech­nol­ogy-driven hub for emerg­ing and es­tab­lished busi­nesses ready to fast-track their growth, while also be­com­ing an even more de­sir­able place to live.

AND IT’S WORK­ING.

Take it from Bell He­li­copter’s Vice Pres­i­dent of Assem­bly Op­er­a­tions Shan­non Massey, a 21-year veteran with the com­pany, who over­sees three of the com­pany’s op­er­a­tion fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing Amar­illo.

Bell He­li­copter must be pre­pared in Amar­illo and will be, thanks in great part to the city’s com­mit­ment to equip­ping its work­force with the tech­ni­cal and lead­er­ship com­pe­ten­cies re­quired for Bell’s so­phis­ti­cated work, in­clud­ing the next gen­er­a­tion tilt-ro­tor, the V-280, one of the big­gest op­por­tu­ni­ties for Bell and Tex­tron. Bell V-280 Valor is an air­craft that will pro­vide un­matched speed, range, pay­load, agility, sur­viv­abil­ity, and en­durance and at an a ord­able cost

“There’s a spirit of col­lab­o­ra­tion and “can do” at­ti­tude here that sets Amar­illo apart. The city asks busi­nesses like ours what we need in our work­force, and then uses that knowl­edge to in­vest in its peo­ple, through train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.”

Ginger Nel­son, re­cently elected mayor of Amar­illo, at­tributes much of its growth to the great ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in the city and re­gion.

“I’m con­vinced that no one can out-work or out-think the peo­ple of the Texas Pan­han­dle,” she says.

“So as long as we fo­cus on train­ing them to­wards prob­lem-solv­ing and in­no­vat­ing, there is tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for (the lo­cal work­force) to be­come a sig­nif­i­cant rea­son for busi­nesses to re­lo­cate here, as well as for ex­ist­ing busi­nesses – and by ex­ten­sion, Amar­illo – to grow.”

Despite its growth, Nel­son be­lieves Amar­illo’s sup­port­ive, close-knit com­mu­nity will con­tinue to be a draw for fam­i­lies want­ing an a ord­able and at­trac­tive qual­ity of life.

“We’re a city of 200,000 that feels like a town of 20,000. That’s be­cause of our vast open spa­ces, but also be­cause as a peo­ple, we value small-town val­ues and the small-town work ethic.” Massey, of Bell He­li­copter, sees a bright fu­ture for Amar­illo. “The city re­al­izes the im­por­tance of help­ing niche busi­nesses drive in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy to sup­port busi­nesses like Bell He­li­copter. And to keep and at­tract tal­ent, you also have to in­vest in the com­mu­nity, to make it ap­peal­ing to live there. That’s in­vest­ing in the fu­ture.”

Barry Al­brecht, pres­i­dent & CEO of the Amar­illo Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, agrees. “I’ve lived all over the coun­try and never seen such a sin­cere friend­li­ness that is in­grained in the cul­ture here — it’s truly spe­cial.”

Still think­ing about those cows?

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