In response to an organization’s signal that they could move their headquarters to Fort Worth, Amarillo City Council members unanimously approved a tax incentive agreement to keep the organization in Amarillo.

The agreement between the City of Amarillo, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, and the American Quarter Horse Association will keep the AQHA in Amarillo for 10 years, officials said. Under the agreement, $3 million in taxpayer-funded incentives will be given to the organization, while private citizens in Amarillo have pledged to add $2 million to the deal.

During the meeting, Amarillo EDC president Kevin Carter gave a presentation, in which he stated that there are thresholds required for the AQHA to receive the full economic incentive package.

“If the AQHA falls below $6 million in annual payroll, they have to pay back the amount that they’ve received, so there are … protections for the taxpayer with this incentive,” Carter said.

The deal was put forward just under two years after it was originally reported that the American Quarter Horse Association might be planning to leave Amarillo in favor of a move to Fort Worth. AQHA officials issued a statement on a potential move in October 2019 after the Fort Worth City Council voted to allow a section of land at the Will Rogers Memorial Center to be developed as a site for the AQHA’s headquarters and museum. The Fort Worth deal also would have provided a 25 percent rent credit for each year the AQHA held its Youth World Championships and AQHA World Show in Fort Worth.

With the agreement now approved, the AQHA is set to stay in Amarillo through 2031, having spent the better part of a century in the Panhandle. According to news reports, the AQHA’s main office has been located in Amarillo since 1947.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.

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