The Amarillo community is brimming with generous volunteers, influential leaders and successful businesspeople. The people of Amarillo are what make our city unlike any other. With the AEDC guest blog posts, we hope to educate readers on our community as well as share valuable messages from Amarillo’s key thinkers. This is a guest post by Gina Woodward, Regional Director at West Texas A&M Small Business Development Center.
Will you write a blog for us? Sure, no problem! Starts writing, scratch that topic. Repeat, repeat, repeat. That’s when it hit me…. maybe the most important thing isn’t HOW to do business, but WHY so many choose to do business in the Texas Panhandle.
As a Canyon native who has passed on many an opportunity to live elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad, I’m intimately familiar with the love affair people have with the Panhandle. Sure, it can be breezy (you didn’t want that trampoline anyway) and a few times each year we need both shorts and a parka in the same day, but we have so many exceptional things to offer.
I recently spent time driving through another state. Outside of its sparse cities, the land is barren and mostly uninhabited. Upon my return to Texas it hit me that I’d never truly appreciated our sprawling fields of cotton, corn and wheat until thinking about that stark comparison. There’s beauty not only in those green fields, but beauty in the idea that we work so hard to use the land. Nowhere else in the world can you make a short drive and see anything as grand as the majestic Lighthouse rock at Palo Duro Canyon, fall foliage in Canadian, and the bison herd of Caprock Canyons.
Whether it’s a farmer in Spearman working around the clock to plant his spring crop, a bookkeeper in Perryton taking extra time to explain financial statements to their new small business client or a restaurant owner in Borger who’s not had a day off in months, you’d be hard-pressed to find people more admirable than those in the Panhandle — *cue Jeopardy music*. Let me list some adjectives for you: hard-working, friendly, resilient, helpful, faithful, fearless, innovative, family-centered, creative — we are all of those and so much more. Some say that we have funny accents, but y’all know it’s not us, it’s them.
3. Small Business
We LOVE small businesses in the Panhandle! Why? Backup and reread #2 if you haven’t figured it out yet. Whether they be across the street or in the next county over, we’re all neighbors and we support each other as such. When I married, my mother made the drive to Friona to purchase much of the material for my wedding from Malouf’s Fabrics, a family-owned store in the heart of the city. Restaurants like the Alley Café in Dumas and Red River Steakhouse in McLean regularly serve people from across the Panhandle who drive an hour or more for their home-cooked meals. Sure, we could buy fabric and steak closer to home, but we’d rather pay for someone’s son to attend baseball camp, their daughter to attend college or maybe replace a trampoline that blew away. That’s exactly what we’re doing when we support our neighbors.
I’ve already mentioned just a few of our natural attractions, but there’s a lot more to see! We’re well-known for the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, the Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texan, but there are many hidden gems across the Panhandle. If you visit the La Rita Performing Arts Theatre in Dalhart you’ll find a stunning theatre painstakingly restored to its 1930’s glory. If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Cars, you may do a double take when you see the former U-Drop Inn in Shamrock as it was the model for Ramone’s House of Body Art. It’s been restored and is now houses a museum, gift shop and visitors’ center. Surrounded by a corn field south of Hereford sits a chapel constructed by Italian Prisoners of War during WWII. Built as a memorial to five of their comrades who passed away in the POW camp that was once on this site, it’s a reminder that although WWII was being fought across the ocean, the Texas Panhandle still played an important role.
How lucky I am to call this land home. I’m going to start off my evening with a walk to the local, nationally renowned coffee house, have dinner at Rafter G’s in Umbarger because it’s all-you-can-eat catfish night and then spend time on my front porch with my neighbors, rocking in handmade chairs purchased at the local hardware store. Life in the Texas Panhandle cannot be beat.
Gina Woodward is the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center and Contract Procurement Center. She has worked at the SBDC since 2008. She earned her M.B.A. in General Business from West Texas A&M University. Connect with Gina on LinkedIn.
See just how much Amarillo continues to grow by downloading our free infographic!
Interested in contributing to the AEDC blog? Email Marketing & Communications Director, Reagan Hales.