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Introduction

With its enormous size, large and diverse population and vast array of natural resources, Texas plays a significant role in the nation’s economy. And Texas continues to grow, generating new jobs and providing better opportunities for its citizens to prosper.

Cotton fields near Lubbock, Texas
Photo Credit: Philip Brown/Texas Tech University

It is important to all Texans that the state continue its economic growth and seek out new opportunities. And the role of state government is to help create an environment in which this can happen.

The Texas Comptroller’s office analyzes factors affecting the state’s economy and uses this information to prepare its biennial forecast of state revenue. To perform this task, the agency’s economists keep their fingers on the pulse of the state, detecting changes as they occur and identifying trends that will affect our common future.

In January 2008, the Comptroller released Texas in Focus: A Statewide View of Opportunities, a report examining a series of issues affecting the state and the state’s economy as a whole. This report, Texas in Focus: High Plains, examines issues affecting this economic region of Texas, which includes the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission and South Plains Association of Governments. The High Plains region is made up of 41 counties that stretch from the Panhandle through the South Plains (Exhibit 1), a region including the cities of Amarillo and Lubbock.

This report provides information on the forces driving change in the High Plains, and examines factors that may affect the development of the region’s economy. State leaders, county and city officials, chambers of commerce, economic development corporations and many others may use this report as a tool to stay on top of important issues as they work to keep their local economies thriving. Areas explored in this report include:

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Economic Development

The High Plains region’s economic outlook is promising. The region’s rate of job growth will nearly match that of the state as a whole through 2012, with Amarillo creating jobs at a slightly faster rate than Lubbock. Though the region traditionally has been dominated by agriculture and oil and gas, a broader economy is emerging from growth in the service industries.

Demographics

A slightly greater share of the region’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24 than is the state’s. A young population means more people will be entering the job market and filling many of the newly created service jobs.

Infrastructure

The High Plains’ infrastructure provides the region with a solid basis for future economic growth. Its abundant natural resources will continue to meet the demands of the region’s industries, rural communities and urban centers during the near future.

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Health Care

Delivering health care in an area such as the High Plains, with its widely dispersed rural population, presents a challenge for the region’s families and medical professionals. But innovations such as telemedicine and telepharmacy are shrinking these distances and improving access to health care, while new educational opportunities are increasing the region’s number of nurses.

Education

The skills needed to prosper in an expanding and increasingly technology-based economy come from a good education. The High Plains region is fortunate to have school districts that outperform the state in several areas and offer lower-than-average class sizes, as well as affordable institutions of higher education, including Texas Tech University.

Endnotes

Exhibit 1

High Plains Region

High Plains Region

(High Plains Region, Text Alternative)

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