ABILENE, Texas (BigCountryHomepage.com) – We’ve seen Abilene rapidly develop just within the last few years. But during the year of 2022, major changes were made. From new businesses opening to old businesses being given a new breath of life, here are the 10 Abilene economic stories that got the most online attention this year.
Fun fact: The number one economic story on BigCountryHomepage.com this year actually wasn’t an Abilene story – or a story at all. It was actually the schedule of events for Sweetwater’s annual Rattlesnake Roundup!
In July, news broke of Braum’s, a restaurant chain, purchasing four different plots of land in Abilene. A Braum’s representative told KTAB/KRBC the company’s been slowly purchasing land in Abilene, but 2023 would not be the year that the city gets a Braum’s.
An inside look at Downtown Abilene’s new hotel was high up on the list of most looked at on BigCountryHomepage.com!
Although ground first broke on the project in the fall of 2021, it was this July that residents, construction workers and developers alike all got really excited about the progress of the hotel.
Abilene’s Downtown Hotel and Convention Center was already booked out to 2026, as according to the Abilene Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and was estimated to be completed in the spring of 2023.
In August, Downtown Abilene businesses got excited over the prospect of a budget boost for façade improvements.
KTAB/KRBC spoke with a generational Downtown Abilene business owner about what recent renovations meant for his building.
“We wanted to go back to the way it looked, to add some historic value to the downtown as we begin to change down here.”
Improvements were made possible through the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) Façade Improvement Assistance Grant.
Great Lakes Cheese announced it would be opening a plant in Abilene in November. The company said it would be looking to fill more than 200 positions. Across the month of September, Great Lakes held six hiring events. An average salary of $60,000 was a major selling point for job seekers.
One of Abilene’s most highly anticipated new businesses in 2022 was the revamping of a vacant funeral home in Downtown Abilene. What was once Elliot-Hamil Funeral Home was rebirthed in September as Peacock Plaza.
Peacock Plaza is a multifaceted business that hosts workspaces professionals can rent out, as well as a bar and patio. It’s an all-ages business, and you can usually catch Essence of Soul Food truck out by the patio.
As one developer said, you can “Live, work, and play right here.”
But why an old funeral home?
“It was in really bad shape honestly. The bones were good, but it was really outdated.”
September 2022 seemed to have been a big month for Abilene’s economy – especially after the West Texas Fair & Rodeo and Boo at the Zoo reportedly netted the City of Abilene more than $1.5 million. But it was a longtime Abilene business that made the top five list of most clicked-on economic articles.
Bridgestone Bandag, which had just celebrated its 51st anniversary in the city, announced that it would spend more than $60 million to automate its rubber mixing and production operation, and expand the FM 18 facility.
This expansion project was said to add nearly $2 million to Abilene’s economy over the course of the next 10 years.
We’re all familiar with the Mars Rover, climbing over the red rocks and craters in space. Now, there is a new rover closer to home, riding through the dusty pastures deep in Haskell County.
That’s the Ranch Rover, a creation come to life after two years of trial-by-error from 27-year-old River McTasney.
The machine, McTasney said, was built from the experience on the ranch to not only make their jobs more efficient, but to also solve other common issues, as well.
The Ranch Rover features sensors, much like you’d see on your car, as well as cameras that can send signal wherever it roams.
When you’re hungry, just about any place will do. But when you’re looking for a hometown experience like no other, no two eateries quite stack up to the Dixie Pig and Farolito Restaurant.
BigCountryHomepage.com’s Noah McKinney did a major feature on how the legacy eateries came to be.
The Dixie Pig was first a pork sandwich stand in 1931, and Farolito was a family effort since ’36.
Other major happenings for Abilene’s legacy eateries included the tear downs of Crystal’s Pizza and the old El Fenix Café.
From nightlife to retail, business has been booming across Abilene this year! At least 15 new businesses set up shop in the city in 2022.
A familiar building in Downtown Abilene became a new, upscale restaurant. The T&P building is now La Stazione.
Over the summer, The Shed Market opened a new brick and mortar in South Abilene to serve even more customers after so much luck at its smaller location.
Allen Ridge, new to the area of Abilene Christian University, has also been booming. This strip is full of restaurants, services, and shops. A couple of incredibly anticipated businesses were Summer Moon Coffee, Twisted Root Burger Co., and Cork And Pig Tavern.
Seven and One: A Book Sanctuary also took up space in downtown. This business was opened because while Abilene has several used bookstores, Seven and One’s owner said she saw a big need for a wide variety of new books.
The most recent Downtown Abilene attraction was Brim Style Hat Company, an ‘Abilene original’ haberdashery.
In winter 2021, the City of Abilene and Taylor County announced a 20-year-long partnership with Houston-based tech and energy company, Lancium. Come this January, along with a hefty $2.4 billion price tag, the company promised to bring in 57 jobs and add to the area’s economy.
The question at large was, ‘okay, sure. But what does Lancium do?’
Well, Lancium told KTAB/KRBC it intended to build the infrastructure, in Far North Abilene, to support the many computers and servers needed to do its actual job.
“We’re more the energy manager, and the Bitcoin companies, which want access to the power, have to follow the rules.”
Lancium officially broke ground in November.
Your 3 honorable mentions for 2022 Abilene economy
Stay with BigCountryHomepage.com as we release more top 10 lists from 2022 throughout the month of December.