TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – The mayor of Texarkana, Texas says businesses in the city are beginning to recover from the financial strain caused by the pandemic, but the struggle to find employees persists.

“Our local economy has rebounded very nicely,” Mayor Bob Bruggeman said Thursday.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are patronizing local businesses again. Bruggeman says the city relies heavily on sales tax revenue, which he says is up by five percent compared to this time last year.

He says the only problem this area faces now is a shortage of employees.

“We do have several businesses and several types of business establishments who are actively recruiting and trying to hire employees. Especially, in retail, and automotive, and the restaurant industry,” said Bruggeman.

Mayor Bruggeman says with the economy progressing in the right direction, he expects to see a lot of growth and expansion in the coming years.

“I anticipate that we will see more construction activity. Both in the residential sector. As well as the business sector and the manufacturing sector.”

Although many COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, local businesses can choose to keep them in place.

“I think our local community has handled it quite well. We do have some businesses in our city that still require their customers to wear face coverings or masks when they enter their business. And that is certainly a decision that is made upon their company or their corporation.”

Overall, Mayor Bruggeman says thanks to first responders, vaccination clinics, and healthcare workers, Texarkana is keeping COVID cases low.

“I think everybody had safety in mind as we dealt with this. And hope that we never have to endure anything like this or at the magnitude that we had to endure it this past year.”