Amarillo is considered the regional economic center for the Texas Panhandle as well as Eastern New Mexico and the Oklahoma Panhandle. The meat packing industry is a major employer in Amarillo; about one-quarter of the United States' beef supply is processed in the area. The city is also the location of headquarters for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. Petroleum extraction is also a major industry. The helium industry has decreased in significance since the federal government privatized local operations in the late 1990s. Bell Helicopter Textron opened a helicopter assembly plant near the city's international airport in 1999.
The city's largest employer in 2005 is Tyson Foods, with 3,700 employees. The Amarillo Independent School District is next with 3,659 employees followed by BWXT Pantex, Baptist St. Anthony’s Health Care System, City of Amarillo, Northwest Texas Healthcare System, Amarillo College, and United Supermarkets. Other major employers include Bell Helicopter Textron, Owens-Corning, and ASARCO.
Approximately 14 million acres (57,000 km) of agricultural land surrounds the city with corn, wheat and cotton as the primary crops. Other crops in the area include sorghum, silage, hay and soybeans. The Texas Panhandle, particularly in Hereford, Texas, serves as a fast growing milk producing area as several multi-million dollar state of the art dairies were built in early 2000s.
The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) is funded by a city sales tax, and it provides aggressive incentive packages to existing and prospective employers. In the mid-to-late 1990s, the AEDC gained notoriety by sending mock checks to businesses across the country, placing full-page advertisements in The Wall Street Journal, and paying an annual $1 million subsidy to American Airlines to retain jet service. The AEDC is largely responsible for bringing Bell Helicopter Textron's development of the V-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft and the future site of