ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – With more and more businesses and restaurants opening in Abilene, a lack of workers is presenting some challenges as contractors are in high demand.

Rene Ortega, owner of AmpTex Electric in Abilene, says that like many others, his business saw a lull in 2020. Though the supply chain and labor shortages are still affecting them, Ortega says 2021 is shaping up to be a much better year to be an electrician.

“We’re [having a] shortage of people working right now, but as far as business, there’s plenty of work to go around,” says Ortega.

His crew has work booked into next year, which is good, but he says the lack of workers and supplies make the work somewhat bittersweet.

“We get the actual job done but we don’t have enough stuff there, we’re put on stall,” Ortega says. “It’s one of those deals where we have no choice but to wait.”

This labor demand can be seen in all parts of the city, like the newly opened Allen Ridge shopping center near Abilene Christian University (ACU).

“Even some of our tenants have had trouble finding a contractor,” says ACU Vice President of Investment Management Kelley Young.

Young says the pandemic forced them to hold off development of the project in 2020. Now, despite the difficulty finding workers, they’ve been able to open and even expand.

“I think there is a sense in Abilene that things are beginning to grow,” Young said.

Allen Ridge will soon be home to a few new businesses such as Twisted Root burgers, Apricot Lane Boutique, Summer Moon Coffee, Bahama Bucks, Coleman County State Bank, and Hendrick Urgent Care.

They’ll be joining the already popular Fuzzy’s tacos, Biscuit bar, Phoenix Pho, and Abilene Nail bar.

“Certainly as these shops are opening following COVID, I think people are just ready to get out and enjoy the space that we’ve developed,” says Young.

Though supply is little and demand is high, Ortega says he and his crew are happy to put in the hours after such an uncertain year.

“It’s gonna be a good year for us all, there’s so much work going on here In Abilene,” Ortega says. “There’s houses being built left and right, and Abilene, it’s spreading, so it’s a good sign.”