When it comes to their work ethic and drive, it's hard to find a more determined population than the people of Amarillo. Armed with pioneer DNA and ferocious grit, Amarillians are doing amazing things in fields as diverse as oil and gas, aerospace and nanotechnologies.
While this may be the case, the people of Amarillo are also very protective of their work-life balance. Fortunately, this is a city that allows plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with family, play hard, be entertained and enjoy some of the most spectacular outdoor scenery anywhere.
Ask an Amarillo native to describe in a single word what life is like in this West Texas city, and odds are good the word you'll hear is "friendly."
Amarillo is a place where folks get along and work together, says William Ware, a fifth-generation Amarillian and a director of the Amarillo National Bank. "We call it the Panhandle spirit," he says. "It's a unique kind of vibe that exists up here because we've got to take care of each other. And we come from tough stock."
There is a pioneer spirit that pervades every aspect of Amarillo community life, and that's a good thing, says Beth Duke, executive director of Center City of Amarillo, Inc., a nonprofit organization created more than 25 years ago to preserve and revitalize the city's historic downtown area. "We have strong community and faith-based organizations that work together to strengthen the fabric of our city," she says.
The pioneer spirit can be seen in the way people go out of their way to help their neighbors, Duke says, citing the 100 Club of the Texas Panhandle as a great example of that spirit in action. Members pay dues of $100 a year to support certified peace officers and firefighters. When such a first responder is injured or killed, the 100 Club uses that money to provide financial assistance to his or her dependents.
A family-friendly place
Amarillo is also a great place to raise a family, with a calendar full of events geared to family activities. "Beyond school and sports activities, we have festivals, parades, theater productions, concerts and museum exhibits for the whole family," Duke reports.
The Amarillo community provides the kind of supportive atmosphere that families need to thrive, adds Trent Phillips, founder and owner of IAN Group, a provider of insurance advocacy services to homeowners, businesses and agencies. "People care," says the single father of a 13-year-old son. "We are 'real,' not a factious community where everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses. The Joneses got kicked out a long time ago. I wouldn't raise my child anywhere else."
Where the arts thrive
In 2016, the Amarillo Cultural District, a Center City of Amarillo project, was designated a state cultural district by the Texas Commission on the Arts in recognition of its success in harnessing the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization. It's a well-deserved honor, given the city's strong regional and national presence in the arts, Ware says.
"We are very fortunate to have a world class symphony, a performing arts center, ballet and a multitude of music programs," he says. The Amarillo Little Theatre, established in 1927, is one of the oldest continuously operating community theaters in the country. Its ALT Academy Program offers comprehensive training in theater, dance and voice to hundreds of children and adults throughout the Amarillo area.
Paradise for outdoor sports enthusiasts
Outdoor enthusiasts in Amarillo have myriad recreation choices and opportunities. First and foremost, there's easy access to Palo Duro Canyon, a U.S. National Natural Landmark and the second-largest canyon in the U.S. Duro Canyon was the inspiration for much of the early work of famed artist Georgia O'Keefe.
Ware, a dedicated mountain biker and triathlete, says Palo Duro Canyon State Park has a network of mountain biking trails rated among the best in the country. Trail running and hiking are other popular activities, and there are plenty of opportunities for fishing, hunting and horseback riding in the Amarillo area, he adds.
A work-life balance haven
The restaurant, cultural and entertainment scenes are all vibrant and growing in Amarillo, making the city increasingly attractive to young professionals. But perhaps what most sets Amarillo apart from other cities of similar size is the great work-life balance it offers.
"There's just more time to do more personal things when you live here," Ware says. "There's less traffic, less waiting, shorter distances between places you want to go. It's a unique environment. Having quality jobs, a diverse economy, great schools, great weather, a creative culture and so many opportunities for outdoor activities--all that makes for a better work-life balance."
Adds Phillips, "We are a community where our values come first. First and foremost, our values are instilled in us through generations of families that have poured their hearts and souls into the next generations."