Employment & Economy
At the national level, such websites as www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com , www.jobs.com and www.craigslist.org have broad search capabilities as well as resume tips, forum support and professional networking options.
At the local level, The Texas Workforce Commission, www.twc.state.tx.us, posts job listings and resumes of those seeking employment. This state-run agency also offers career planning, links to training opportunities, advice for entrepreneurs, veterans’ services and specialized help such as trade adjustment assistance for those who lose their jobs because of foreign imports of goods or services.
Abilene’s Workforce Solutions
of West Central Texas Office
400 Oak St.
Abilene, TX 79602 325-795-4200
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Taylor County, Texas
Office of Human Resources/Risk Management
300 Oak St., Suite 205
Abilene, TX 79602 325-674-1220
Taylor County, which employs 500 people in 30 departments, lists its job openings on its website. Full-time positions receive access to full benefits, including an employee health clinic and free health, dental and life insurance.
The city’s employment website lists openings by position (“air conditioning specialist,” “zoo veterinarian”), type (full time, part time, temporary), salary and closing date.
The job site indeed.com, whose motto is “One search, all jobs,” has a site just for the Abilene area. On June 7, 2013, that site listed 1,402 open positions including one for a landman ($147,000) and for a receptionist ($25,000).
An employment agency can list jobs from those of high-level administrators to warehouse work. Many employers use these agencies as their human resources department to advertise positions, interview, test, and manage payroll. Jobs can be full time, part time, temporary or a temp-to-perm arrangement, which allows an employer and a prospective employee to preview each other before committing to permanent employment.
Search the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s member directory for employment agencies under the tab “Your Chamber” (www.abilenechamber.com).
P.O. Box 2281
Abilene, TX 79604 800-299-0005
The Abilene Industrial Foundation (AIF) operates as an arm of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce in alliance with the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA: www.developabilene.com) to help businesses with their site selection, marketing, retention and expansion, and with up-to-date information needed for decisions.
DevelopAbilene Incentive programs can include grants, forgivable loads and loan participations for capital investments; grants for architectural and engineering services; job training; relocation; and manufacturing assessment.
Texas Tech University Small Business Development Center At Abilene
300 Chestnut, Suite 601
Abilene, TX 79602 325-670-0311
Texas Tech University maintains its Abilene Small Business Development Center as an outreach program to provide free, confidential counseling, technical assistance, training workshops and reference resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Its goal is foster growth, innovation, profitability, increased productivity and improved management for small businesses.
State of Texas
Qualifying business can tap into several major state initiatives to create jobs and drive innovation.
The Texas Enterprise Fund (www.governor.state.tx.us/ecodev/financial_resources/texas_enterprise_fund ) is a final “tipping” incentive for projects that promise major job creation and capital investment when a single Texas site is vying against a strong out-of-state competitor. It’s the biggest deal-closing fund of its kind in the nation, the state says.
The Texas Emerging Technology Fund (www.governor.state.tx.us/ecodev/etf ) provides grants for recruiting research talent and help companies take ideas from dreams to development to the marketplace.
In addition, the state has asset-based loans for companies; grants; tax incentives for businesses expanding in or relocating to Texas (Enterprise Zone sales tax refunds, manufacturing sales tax exemptions, property tax value caps and Freeport exemptions); and workforce training programs and the Skills Development Fund administered by the Texas Workforce Commission.
Job Seeker Tips
Always keep your resume up-to-date, and have different resumes that target specific industries and highlight your skills for their job descriptions.
Compile several reference lists so you have a good variety of people and former business associates to draw on.
Compose a comprehensive and catchy cover letter; it will introduce you and your desire to work for the company. Know what the company does, and highlight your skills, work experience and education that apply to the position.
Be ready for an interview at any time. When you submit your application, a supervisor may want to talk immediately, or the phone may ring with a hiring director at the other end of the line.
Always follow up with thank-you letters and calls. Even today, a letter as well as the quick-response e-mail will separate you from a surprising number of the other applicants to your advantage and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind.
Judicious calls display your continued interest. Writing out what you want to say beforehand helps. So does rehearsal.
Visit www.usajobs.gov to search for Department of Defense and other federal jobs in the Abilene area.
To learn more about job openings on Dyess Air Force Base, go to www.dyessfss.com/civilian-personnel.html. The Dyess Civilian Personnel Office is at 417 Third St. (first floor), Dyess AFB, TX 79607, and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 325-696-2391.
Employment & Economy
Hard-riding Comanche warriors kept the Rolling Plains of what is now Taylor County dusted clean of settlers until the Civil War ended at Appomattox Courthouse and the Army could re-establish its protective forts; the military continues to be a major stakeholder in the area’s economy, though civic leaders have pushed successfully to diversify ever since Abilene’s Progressive Committee got together in 1888 to woo new businesses to what was then a railroad and agricultural town.
A group of ranchers in the northeast part of the county had struck a deal in 1880 with the Texas & Pacific Railroad to run its track to the north, across their own lands and east of Catclaw Creek, instead of through the established county seat of Buffalo Gap. Hundreds of would-be settlers showed up for the 1881 land auction and bought into the new town of Abilene. The day after New Year’s in 1883, they voted to incorporate, and in October, out-polled Buffalo Gap to become the county seat as well. By 1884 the stricken Buffalo Gap was down to 600 residents, half of 1880’s count (though today it’s a popular arts and tourism center), while Abilene was thriving, numbering 3,194 residents by 1890.
Cattle, crops, people and petroleum products have moved through this transportation hub over the decades. Business leaders pushing for yet more rail added the Abilene and Northern and Abilene and Southern railroads. These days, Abilene is on a main line of the Union Pacific Railroad. Greyhound operates two bus terminals. An American Airlines passenger subsidiary, American Eagle, serves Abilene Regional Airport southeast of the central business district and has its heavy-maintenance base there for all American Eagle aircraft. Interstate Highway 20 loops just north of the city on its east-west path from South Carolina to its junction and terminus with Interstate 10 in West Texas, and north-south U.S. Highways 83 and 84 and 277 kiss in a brief merge just west of town.
The Abilene Industrial Foundation (http://aif.developabilene.com) notes that the city of 118,887 people is the geographic hub of the world’s largest free trade zone: 360 million consumers and a $6 trillion economy. Access is easy to East and West Coasts, industries in the Midwest and the Northeast, and markets in Canada, Mexico and points south.
In April 2013, the Texas Workforce Commission charted the unemployment rate for the Abilene Metropolitan Statistical Area at 4.8 percent, fourth-lowest in the state, which overall had a 6.1 percent unemployment rate. Growth in the region was steady: 2.1 percent in April 2013 over April 2012, 14th-strongest in Texas.
In 2011, Forbes.com ranked Abilene as second among small Texas cities in terms of business opportunities and quality of life and nationally as 48th of 184 cities with populations of 250,000 or less.
Civic leaders have a hundred-plus-year history of reacting quickly and aggressively to economic changes. When the oil boom bottomed out in the 1980s, for example, Abilene became the first city in Texas to impose a half-cent sales tax to foster development.
Health care, education and light manufacturing lead the way in jobs growth as the importance of ranching, farming and the oil industry have declined, though all three still are players. Abilene anchors a 22-county trade area, so retail is solid: The Abilene Industrial Foundation approximates sales totaling $1.8 billion in its most recent yearly figures. Oil and gas production and their support industries were next at $1.02 billion. Manta, the small-business directory site, listed 13,827 Abilene businesses in 2011.
Another power industry, operational since 2005, is the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources. The wind farm’s 421 turbines can generate enough electricity for almost a quarter-million homes.
Farmers raised $24 million worth of cotton, grain, sorghum, wheat, oats, pecans, fruit and truck crops in 2012, the Abilene Industrial Foundation calculated in January 2013, and ranching, stock farms, feed lots and dairying added another $26 million.
Four hospitals serve the region: Abilene Regional Medical Center (www.abileneregional.com), Hendrick Health System (www.hendrickhealth.org), Abilene Behavioral Health (www.abilenebehavioralhealth.com) and Reliant Abilene (in-patient rehabilitation: www.reliantabilene.com). Most post employment information on their websites. In addition to the hospitals, the most recent numbers available (2011) show 25 assisted living, retirement centers and nursing homes offering 2,352 beds. There were 280 practicing physicians and 58 dentists.
Higher education in Abilene is especially rich in employment possibilities. There are three private universities: Abilene Christian University (Churches of Christ, www.acu.edu ), Hardin-Simmons University (Baptist, www.hsutx.edu ) and McMurry University (Methodist, www.mcm.edu). Texas State Technical College (www.tstc.edu) is part of the only state-funded technical college system in Texas. American Commercial College offers business-oriented courses (www.americancommercialcollege.com). Cisco College (www.cisco.edu ), a two-year community college, and Texas Tech University have been collaborating on a nursing program for fall 2013, a response to the state’s severe nursing shortage. In March, officials cut the ribbon for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing at Abilene (325-676-3822), next door to the university’s School of Pharmacy (325-676-7948), and Hardin-Simmons and McMurry collaborate to operate the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing (www.phssn.edu ).
The 5,406 active military and civilian workers and the 15,000 people in the military community at Dyes Air Force Base, home to the 7th Bomb Wing and the mighty B-1B bombers, had a $435 million impact on the Abilene area in Fiscal Year 2011.
Farther afield, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains two sizeable prisons northeast of Abilene, the French Robertson Unit (2,984 inmates, 650 employees) and the Middleton Unit, a transfer facility (2,128 inmates, about 900 employees). Job listings can be accessed through the website www.tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions.