Although construction activity has slowed in the Panhandle and West Texas, new projects continue to surface and work continues.

“We’re not nearly as busy as we have been the past five or six years, but we have some nice school projects starting in 2010,” says Wiley Hicks III, vice president of Wiley Hicks Jr. Inc., a general contracting firm, and president of the Panhandle of Texas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, both in Amarillo. “It’s not great, but it’s not horrible.”

Wiley Hicks Jr. is finishing up a new building for the Cardiology Center of Amarillo, and Hicks says the firm has some commercial projects expected to start later in 2010.

Jerry Rohane, president of Western Builders of Amarillo, indicates his firm has stayed busy with school, higher education and industrial projects. It finished one job for Bell Helicopter Textron in Amarillo and expects to start another this fall.

“We’re blessed,” Rohane says. “We don’t have the high highs or the low lows.”

That economic steadiness bodes well for the area, but it cannot completely buffer local contractors from the recession. Rohane expressed some concern that things will slow down in 2011 because Panhandle construction activity typically lags the rest of the nation by a year or so.

“We’re hoping we scoot through this recession, and when [the economy] revives, we will have had little effect,” says Stan Cotgreave, president of Page & Associates Contractors in Amarillo.

Page & Associates has completed about 60% of a $10-million, 60,000-sq-ft, three-story Nursing & Dental Health Center at Amarillo College. The company recently started a $3-million workforce education building at Clarendon College’s Pampa Center.

“We have slowed down, but our economy has not slowed much,” says Tonya Felder, executive director of the Panhandle of Texas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors in Amarillo. 

Felder adds that construction spending was down 6% in 2009 in Amarillo, compared to 2008, “but we have construction going on in the smaller towns around us, which is keeping the contractors busy.”

Carl Daniel, principal of Carl Daniel Architects of El Paso, also expresses optimism. His firm has started design on three medical office buildings since the beginning of 2010, which he considers a indication that things are getting better.

“It’s rebuilding a little bit,” Daniel says.

He cites strong activity at Fort Bliss and says that the El Paso economy has not felt the recession as dramatically as other parts of the country.