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      Amarillo National Bank 2012 Economic Forecast

      2011 was a tough year, economically, for almost everyone across the United States. But here in the Panhandle, 2011 ended on a relatively positive note.

      Of course, the question looms: what's in store for 2012?

      Amarillo National Bank gave it's 2012 Economic Forecast for Amarillo's local economy on Wednesday, one that turned out to be pretty optimistic.

      "2012 has the potential of being a better year than 2011. We're going to watch the drought but it, all in all, it should be a better year than 2011, and 2011 was a good year," said Vice President of Amarillo National Bank, William Ware.

      Even if the Panhandle saw the economy suffering here and there, officials with West Texas A&M's Enterprise Center still say, we're lucky.

      "We're thankful to be in a place that we haven't had the economic swings, like some of the coastal states and those sorts of things," said WTAMU Enterprise Center Executive Director, David Terry.

      Ware said important sectors like retail sales, employment and energy will all play large roles in the predicted, further economic recovery in 2012.

      "2012 we see will be another good year for our local economy," said Ware. "We will see hiring in 2012, commodity prices should stay about level, dairies and feedlots will do well again, cattle prices will rise and we think with strong oil prices in an efficient drilling in the eastern Panhandle will help with energy in the energy sector."

      But it's no surprise, 2012 will still face economic difficulty when it comes to the, what seems to be, never-ending drought in Texas and other "unknown" factors.

      "I think our largest concern is of course, the drought," Ware said. "And be prepared for another year of drought."

      "Our economy is largely affect by what happens to agriculture," added Terry. "We don't know what's going to happen with the drought. We don't know what's going to happen with the debt situation, with the national economy. We don't know what's going to happen with the presidential race and so 2012, I would say, we're kind of operating under cautious optimism," he said.

      But, no matter how "cautious" it may be -- it's still optimism.

      "It's definitely positive," said Terry. "We're on the upswing."