Patti O’Malley Weingartner and her team’s new Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. offices are located in the freshly renovated Long Oil Company building at the corner of Third Street and Buckeye Avenue in downtown Abilene. This storied building has been a fixture of the downtown streetscape since the 1920s.
From the 1920s Long Oil Company building that became a financial advisory business to the local historic house owned by Marge Olson that received a feature in Country Living, Abilene cherishes its antique structures. Even more, the city values the businesses inside the buildings.
Tim Hamilton, director of economic development for the Abilene, said he is working to improve incentives for businesses to build.
“It’s helpful for businesses who are on the fence and not sure if they want to do anything, whether it’s building a new building or doing a remodel or renovation, they can come to us and we can maybe help them out,” Hamilton said. “The goals, as far as economic development, would be: We want to, at this point, emphasize existing businesses and make sure they are healthy and the existing business community is healthy.”
Hamilton said new business start-ups are a secondary priority.
“We take a two-way approach: We look at existing businesses as well as make sure we try to be attractive to potential new businesses coming in,” Hamilton said. “We want to be attractive to new businesses and keep the existing businesses. In general, we want to be as supportive as possible for helping existing businesses thrive and make Abilene attractive for potentially new businesses that want to locate here.”
City Manager David Dillner said he and his team want to cut away any red tape that could hinder the growth of small business.
“We’re in the procurement process now for outside consultants to help with review and update of our development regulations to make it more flexible for development to occur within the city of Abilene,” Dillner said. “That’s a good thing.”
Dillner said there are plenty of signs of business growth in Abilene. Scott Dawson Builders and Mike Wilson Builders are constructing new housing units in its Dawson Estates subdivision. North of 14th Street, two business buildings are in the process of construction. Farther north, Holm Chevrolet is nearing the completion of its renovation. At the other end of town, Panda Express opened in March and Taco Grande re-opened in May.
“I think it’s going pretty well right now,” Dillner said. “We’re seeing things that are positive movements that are moving things forward so there’s a lot of things that are going on that, if you actually start counting up, it definitely looks as if there are things moving within our local economy.”