Kansas Guide 2022 | SiteSelection Magazine

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T A B L E

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C O N T E N T S

2022 Economic Development Guide 7

Business Climate Overview In several key state rankings the Sunflower State shines brightest.

10 16

Statistical Profile Governor Interview Gov. Laura Kelly talks about Kansas’ banner year with $3.5 billion in business investments in 2021.

20

Interview with DOC Leadership Kansas Lt. Gov. and Commerce Secretary David Toland shares his perspective on the state’s record-breaking year.

24

Energy and Utilities Kansas aims to play a powerful role at the center of America’s wind belt.

28

Infrastructure The Broadband Acceleration Grant Program will improve access to high-speed internet for homes and businesses in communities statewide.

32

Entrepreneurship and Innovation With hubs of innovation across the state, Kansas advances entrepreneurship and innovation in the heartland.

36

Higher Education A high- qualit y and affordable education is easily within reach at Kansas universities and communit y colleges.

42

Made in Kansas A new incentives program touts the manufacturing prowess of the Sunflower State.

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Advanced Manufacturing Aided by business-friendly policies at the state level and a solid, Midwestern workforce, manufacturing is building momentum.

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS



46

Corporate and Professional Services The Sunflower State attracts corporate and professional service operations with an available workforce and a pro -business climate.

48

Food Processing Kansas sites have all the right ingredients for major food processing facilities.

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Logistics and Distribution Logistics projects in Kansas help to keep global commerce afloat.

54

Aerospace and Defense More than a century since the first plane was built in Kansas, the state’s aerospace and defense industries are taking off.

58

Animal Health Kansas Cit y Animal Health Corridor brings innovation and investments to the animal health industry.

60

Biosciences Life sciences investments in Kansas serve global animal and human health needs.

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Agriculture From Cargill to cattle, the grass is most definitely greener in Kansas.

66

Tourism Kansas legislators have made several recent moves to bolster the state’s vital tourism sector even as the effects of the pandemic continue to challenge the industry.

68

Community Development Communit y development programs and initiatives are improving qualit y of life in the state’s charming small and rural communities.

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Quality of Life Five reasons to fall in love with the Sunflower State.

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

73

Photo Gallery

79

Index to Advertisers



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The publishers believe that the information contained in this publication is accurate. However, the information is not warranted, and neither Conway Data, Inc., nor the Kansas Department of Commerce, assumes any liability or responsibility for actual, consequential or incidental damages resulting from inaccurate or erroneous information. PHONE: (770) 446-6996 • FAX: (770) 263-8825 • TOLL FREE: (800) 554-5686 email: editor@conway.com web: siteselection.com/cc/kansas The Kansas Economic Development Guide is published by Conway Data, Inc. 6625 The Corners Parkway, Suite 200, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 USA. PRINTED IN USA. ©2022 Conway Data, Inc.

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

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D I G I TA L T E C H N O LO GY T E A M Webmaster TRAVIS WALKER Director of Programming & Analytics DANIEL BOYER IT Coordinator MARK BERTRAM


B U S I N E S S

C L I M A T E

O V E R V I E W

The Numbers Add Up In Kansas

In key state rankings and cost of living, the Sunflower State shines brightest.

by R O N S TA R N E R

W

hen Charter Communications announced Nov. 18 that it would open a new $18.9 million customer retention center in Overland Park and create 510 new full-time jobs by the end of the year, the move confirmed what many site selectors already knew. KANSAS IS BACK After posting record capital investment of nearly $2.75 billion in economic development projects in 2020, Kansas followed that up with another solid performance in 2021 with $3.5 billion in investments. Gov. Laura Kelly announced in Devember that since she took office in January 2019, more than $7.5 billion has been invested in the state and over 40,000 K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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$7.5 BILLION INVESTED

40,000 JOBS

Since Gov. Laura Kelly took office in January 2019, more than $7.5 billion has been invested in the state and over 40,000 new jobs have been created or retained. Source: Kansas Department of Commerce

new jobs have been created or retained. “This announcement means more jobs, more money in Kansans’ pockets, and a stronger economy for all of us,” Kelly said. “Since day one, my administration has been laser-focused on building an economy where families and businesses want to call home. Surpassing the $7 billion mark in new business dollars invested in our state is proof that our efforts are working — and we’re not slowing down anytime soon. We’ll continue to invest in our schools, roads and bridges, high-speed internet, and our essential services to keep Kansas open for business.” Charter Communications cited the investment Kansas had made into developing its workforce as one of the reasons behind the expansion. “A diverse and talented workforce in Overland Park and surrounding areas, combined with our strong partnerships with the State of Kansas and the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, made expansion here an obvious choice,” said David Lampman, group vice president of retention at Charter. Projects like these began landing in Kansas after the Kelly administration adopted and then implemented its Framework for Growth economic development agenda. According to Lt. Gov. and Commerce Secretary David Toland, this agenda includes four pillars: rebuilding the business recruitment team at the Department of Commerce; expanding

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

the international footprint of DOC; resestablishing a Community Development Division; and ramping up the state’s workforce development efforts. After making these changes, said Toland, “Kansas is back on the road to growth.” In 2021, the Kelly Administration has successfully closed 312 economic development projects representing more than $3.69 billion in investments made by the private sector. More than 12,000 jobs have also been created or retained this calendar year. Top investments in 2021 included Medline Industries’ $77.5 million project in Bonner Springs; Hilmar Cheese Co. investing $450 million in Dodge City; TriRx Pharmaceutical Services investing $70 million in Shawnee; and Torch Research investing $55 million in Leawood. This sudden wave of capital investment is being noticed by the media as well. Site Selection magazine recently named Kansas the top business climate in the West North Central region of the country, and Area Development magazine awarded Kansas its Gold Shovel Award for 2021. Other recent accolades for the Sunflower State include the following: •

CNBC ranked Kansas No. 2 in cost of living in 2021.


A diverse and talented workforce in Overland Park and surrounding areas, combined with our strong partnerships with the State of Kansas and the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, made expansion here an obvious choice.

­— David Lampman, Group Vice President of Retention, Charter Communications

U.S. News & World Report ranked Kansas No. 7 in infrastructure and No. 16 in opportunity in 2021.

The Reason Foundation ranked Kansas No. 3 in highway performance and cost effectiveness in the 2020 Highway Report.

Kansas ranked No. 9 in the nation for most competitive business environment for the manufacturing of major aerospace platforms, according to the ACE Study by the Teal Group in 2019.

The Princeton Review ranked Kansas State University No. 1 in the nation for Happiest Students, No. 3 in Best Health Services, and No. 3 in Quality of Life.

Site selectors point to factors like Kansas being a right-to-work state and ranking well below the national average with a union membership rate of just 8.7%. Company executives like the fact that Kansas has no inventory or franchise tax. In workforce talent, Kansas stands out even more. Some 91% of adults in Kansas have a high school degree, and 34% have a bachelor’s degree. More than 40% of adults 25 and over in Kansas have at least an associate degree. In several key markets, such as Johnson County in the Kansas City metro area, more than half of all adults possess a college diploma. Workers also like the fact that Kansas boasts a median housing cost of just $151,900 and an average daily commute time that is the sixth shortest in the country.

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S T A T I S T I C A L

P R O F I L E

Kansas by the Numbers TOP 25 PROJECTS BY INVESTMENT Companies

City

Sector

Category

Invest. (M$)

Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc.

Dodge City

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

Food & Beverage

New

460

247

Tonganoxie

Food & Beverage

New

325

80

Bartlett & Co., LP / Savage Ent. Holdings, LLC

--

Food & Beverage

New

325

50

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

Tonganoxie

Food & Beverage

New

250

80

Summit AG Fund I, LLP / Summit Farms, LLC

Phillipsburg

Food & Beverage

New

200

Medline Industries, Inc.

Bonner Springs

Life Sciences

New

77

100

Trirx Pharmaceutical Services, LLC

Shawnee

Life Sciences

New

70

250

Berry Global Group, Inc.

Lawrence

Chemicals & Plastics

Expansion

61

84

KDI Operating Company, LLC

Hugoton

Food & Beverage

Expansion

45

40

Accelerate360 LLC

Olathe

Bus. & Financial Services

New

31

160

Charter Communications, Inc.

Overland Park

IT & Comm.

New

18.9

510

U.S. Engineering Metalworks, LLC

Lawrence

Metals

New

15

140

Corn Board Manufacturing Inc.

Hutchinson

Wood Products

New

15

Fanestil Meats Fresh Local Market LLC

Emporia

Food & Beverage

Expansion

14

American Rebel Holdings Inc.

Chanute

Metals

New

10

Mid-Continent Aviation Services, Inc.

Wichita

Mach., Equip. & Const.

New

5.7

23

Brek Manufacturing Co.

Wichita

Aerospace

New

4.5

75

Airxcel, Inc.

Wichita

Mach., Equip. & Const.

Expansion

4

365

Bold, LLC

Hutchinson

Transport & Logistics

New

3

15

EnviroKlenz

Topeka

Mach., Equip. & Const.

New

35

Novacoast, Inc.

Wichita

IT & Comm.

New

60

Harte Hanks

Kansas City

Transport & Logistics

New

125

Torch Research, LLC

Leawood

IT & Comm.

New

500

TeleTech (TTEC)

Overland Park

Bus. & Financial Services

New

450

The Honest Kitchen Inc

Topeka

Food & Beverage

New

40

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

Jobs


$3.5 billion in investments in 2021

over $1 billion more than the previous record-breaking $2.5 billion secured in 2020

10th

in the nation in economic development projects per capita in 2020.

The new ranking increased from 2019 when Kansas was ranked No. 20. Source: Site Selection

PROJECTS BY TYPE

PROJECTS BY SECTOR 22% FOOD

48 % MFG.

22%

BUSINESS

26 % OFFICE

Type Manufacturing Office Distribution Warehouse Headquarters Call Center

Projects 20 11 5 4 2

Sector Projects Food & Beverage 8 Business & Financial Services 8 IT & Comm. 5 Aerospace 3 Machinery, Equip. & Const. 3 Transport & Logistics 3 Other 7

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KANSAS FAST FACTS

82,282

$57,422

2.9M

$151,900

2.0%

19 Miles

12.1%

66%

37.1

21% / 20%

Median Household Income

Square Miles

Population

Median Housing Cost

Average Travel to Work

Annual Growth Rate

Below Cost of Living

Labor Participation Rate

Gen Z

Median Age

Millenial

MOST POPULOUS CITIES Topeka

Kansas City, KS

125,310

152,960

MSA 231,969

Wichita

389,938 MSA 646,542

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

Olathe

140,545

Overland Park

195,494


INFRASTRUCTURE & LOGISTICS

85%

of the U.S. can be reached in two days or less by freight from Kansas

CANADA Ottowa

Seattle

3 DAYS

1,500 MILES

Detroit

2 DAYS

1 DAY

1,000 MILES

New York

500 MILES Topeka

Los Angeles

Dallas

Miami

MEXICO Source: Kansas Department of Commerce

4,257

140,000 miles of public roads

in the nation based on tons carried

117,000

No. 7

52M feet

total rail miles

employed in transport, warehousing & wholesale trade

for infrastructure US News & World Report

7th

of cold storage facilities in the state

K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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EDUCATION

6

91%

19

33%

State Universities & 1 Municipal University

High School Graduate or Higher

Community Colleges & 7 Technical Schools

College Degree or Higher

FREE TRADE ZONES The Kansas City, Kansas FTZ (Zone 17) Atchison, Jefferson, Franklin, Wyandotte, Johnson, Douglas, Shawnee, Leavenworth and Miami

CHEYENNE

RAWLINS

DECATUR

PHILLIPS

SMITH

NEMAHA

MARSHALL

WASHINGTON

JEWELL

DONIPHAN

BROWN

REPUBLIC NORTON

ATCHISON CLOUD SHERMAN

THOMAS

SHERIDAN

POTTAWATOMIE

MITCHELL GRAHAM

ROOKS

OSBORNE

CLAY

LEAVENWORTH

JACKSON

RILEY

JEFFERSON

WYANDOTTE

OTTAWA GEARY

LINCOLN WALLACE

LOGAN

GOVE

TREGO

WABAUNSEE

SHAWNEE DOUGLAS

ELLIS

SALINE

DICKINSON MORRIS

ELLSWORTH

OSAGE GREELEY

RUSH WICHITA

SCOTT

NESS

LANE

FRANKLIN

MIAMI

BARTON MCPHERSON

RICE

LYON

MARION CHASE

FINNEY

COFFEY

PAWNEE HODGEMAN

HAMILTON

JOHNSON

RUSSELL

ANDERSON

LINN

HARVEY STAFFORD

KEARNY

EDWARDS

WOODSON

RENO

ALLEN

BOURBON

GREENWOOD GRAY STANTON

MORTON

GRANT

STEVENS

FORD

HASKELL

SEWARD

MEADE

CLARK

SEDGWICK

PRATT KIOWA

COMANCHE

BUTLER WILSON

KINGMAN

BARBER

HARPER

NEOSHO

ELK

SUMNER

COWLEY

CHAUTAUQUA

MONTGOMERY

LABETTE

The Wichita FTZ (Zone 161) Sedgwick, Sumner, Butler, Saline, Reno, McPherson and Harvey 14

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

CRAWFORD

CHEROKEE


KEY INDUSTRIES

Advanced Manufacturing

Food Processing & Manufacturing

Logistics & Distribution

Animal Health

Corporate & Professional Services

Aerospace & Defense

Bioscience

Agriculture

LOW COST OF LIVING

6.5%

State Sales Tax

5.7%

Top Individual Income Tax Rate

Media Household Income Kansas United States

$57,442 $61,937

K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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G O V E R N O R

I N T E R V I E W

Kansas’

Record-Breaking Year Governor Laura Kelly announced the state’s second record-breaking year in a row.

E

by S AVA N N A H K I N G

verything is better with a plan, especially economic development. Just ask Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, who recently announced the state’s second record-breaking year in a row. Shortly after being elected in 2019, Gov. Kelly launched an aggressive and strategic economic development plan called Kansas Framework for Growth. The plan was the first of its kind in more than three decades and was created through data analysis and with input from Kansans statewide. Business and community leaders were engaged to offer suggestions and determine priorities for the Kansas economy, and through a virtual survey and town hall meetings across the state, thousands of Kansans came together to help create the final plan. That initial groundwork, before the pandemic began in 2020, laid the foundation for year-afteryear record-breaking growth. In December, Gov. Kelly announced Kansas topped $3.7 billion in new business dollars invested in Kansas this year — over $1 billion more than the previous record-breaking $2.5 billion secured in 2020 — making 2021 the most successful economic development year in Kansas history. We recently spoke with Gov. Kelly about the many factors behind Kansas’ record-breaking year.

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

How would you describe the business climate in Kansas today? Gov. Kelly: Kansas is laser-focused on building on a foundation that drives robust, sustainable economic growth now and in the future. We continue to build on Kansas’ unique assets and strengths. Our state’s convenient central location is enhanced by our strong infrastructure and opportunities for worldclass schooling and training. Combined, these unrivaled advantages make Kansas the perfect place to put down roots. To further enhance our competitiveness, we recently passed all six pieces of major economic development legislation we proposed to improve the state’s long-term posture for growth. We also are coordinating efforts statewide to keep our talented students in our state, build a strong system to ensure the availability of highdemand, skilled workers and create a businessfriendly ecosystem where companies of all sizes can succeed. Recent economic development success stories prove our undeniable momentum is powering Kansas to be a national leader in manufacturing, bioscience, renewable energy, distribution and other key sectors.


What are some examples of things Kansas is doing to help support businesses in today’s climate? Gov. Kelly: Kansas is all in on growth. My administration is committed to working with the Kansas Legislature to make sure our state has the right tools to compete — and win — against other states. We will continue collaborating with the private sector and working in a bipartisan fashion to make Kansas the best environment to do business. In the 2021 Legislative Session alone, we partnered with lawmakers to pass several important pro-growth bills. These legislative wins included: • High Performance Incentive Program (HPIP): Made improvements to better meet the needs of businesses by removing the linkage between Kansas Industrial Training/ Kansas Industrial Retraining (KIT/KIR) and HPIP; removing a 2% training requirement; and allowing for up to 50% of HPIP credits to be transferred, for projects placed into service as of Jan. 1, 2021. • Renewed Angel Investor Tax Credit Program: Increased access to early-stage capital for innovative Kansas businesses by extending the program for five years; increasing tax credits for both the program and investor; and making transferability easier (investors only need a tax clearance). • Rural Housing Incentive District Program (RHID): Expanded access to the program so any city under 60,000 or any county under 80,000 can now create an RHID. This change also allowed the program to be utilized for vertical construction on Main Streets. • Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) Bonds Program: Renewed, improved and extended the program, by making corporate tourism

$3.7 billion invested in Kansas in 2021 Ribbon Cutting for Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s Small Paws Innovation Center in Topeka

and headquarters projects eligible for STAR Bonds funding; increased access for smaller and rural communities to create STAR Bond Districts; and enhanced transparency, community input and effectiveness.

Photo: Kansas Department of Commerce

• Kansas Tourism: Brought the Tourism Division and its economic development functions back to the Department of Commerce by way of an Executive Reorganization Order accepted by the Legislature. • Occupational Licensing Reciprocity: Cuts bureaucratic red tape by offering License Reciprocity to Military spouses within a 15day window; and offers non-military license reciprocity within a 45-day window. The Occupational Licensing has grown rapidly in the U.S., with nearly 25% of all Americans relying on a license for employment. As each state has developed its own set of guidelines for each license, transferability of licensing has become expensive and time consuming without a reciprocity program in place. Thanks to these major legislative accomplishments and other aggressive strategies, we’re now better positioned for business success than ever before.

K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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In Kansas, we’re fortunate to have key economic assets and strengths that align with the new opportunities we’re seeing in the global economy. Our central location makes Kansas ripe for investments in areas such as logistics and distribution, food processing, advanced manufacturing. — Gov. Laura Kelly

Even with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, Kansas has attracted several newcomers to the state. What do you think is contributing to the state’s success with these projects?

Gov. Kelly: Our project pipeline is bursting with an unprecedented number of prospects, and we’re seeing a huge amount of interest in doing business in our state. In Kansas, we’re fortunate to have key economic assets and strengths that align with the new opportunities we’re seeing in the global economy. Our central location makes Kansas ripe for investments in areas such as logistics and distribution, food processing, advanced manufacturing, alternative energy and biosciences. We’ve seen rapid growth in many of these key sectors, and we’re not slowing down now. Our exceptionally talented team at the Department of Commerce has been focused on the emerging opportunities we’re seeing across our economy. As a result, companies of all sizes are choosing to put down roots in Kansas because of our central location, outstanding infrastructure, talented workforce and low cost of doing business. Here in Kansas, my administration is all in on growth. What are some of the biggest opportunities in the state today? Gov. Kelly: In the wake of the pandemic, many companies, especially those operating overseas, sought more secure supply chains to fortify production and distribution strategies. More and more companies are discovering a good fit in Kansas. They know our central location and talented workforce create a prime position to attract companies looking to shore up their supply chains. Located in the heart of the U.S., whether by highway, rail, or air, Kansas offers excellent transportation and shipping advantages for your business to efficiently move inventory. The focus on building and maintaining an outstanding multimodal infrastructure has made it easier and less expensive to ship from

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

Kansas, where 85% of the United States can be reached in two days or less. What are you doing to encourage FDI in the state? Gov. Kelly: We have worked hard to renew, strengthen and build additional relationships abroad. One of my first directives in this area was to restore the International Division within our Department of Commerce. Our team is getting back to full steam and working with partners to position Kansas favorably for foreign companies looking to invest. Our state maintains an active presence at international trade shows in our cluster industries like aerospace, animal health, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and more. In addition, we work with existing foreign-owned companies to make sure they have what they need to succeed in Kansas. We are committed to working with international companies to continue to build, expand and employ in our state. Though international travel has been a challenge over the past couple of years, we look forward to re-engaging in trade missions to recruit new businesses to the state and visit our current international business partners and invite continued investment in Kansas. You’ve made infrastructure a key priority in your administration. What are some of the ways Kansas is investing in better connectivity across the board? Gov. Kelly: Several major infrastructure investments have made a significant impact across Kansas. The Broadband Acceleration Grant program was created in 2020 to bring critically needed broadband access to Kansas communities. Funded through the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE), the program administered by the Office of Broadband Development is making more “last-mile” connections possible across the state. We want every Kansan to have access to the connections they need for telehealth, virtual school and other quality-of-life needs, and for businesses to be able to compete in an increasingly digital-focused economy. Over the next 10 years, the program seeks to invest $85 million toward bridging the digital divide in Kansas thanks to broadband


modernization funding. As the result of swift legislative action, $5 million will be available annually over the next three years, with $10 million annually made available over the following seven years. This first year of the 10-year program invested $5 million in grants with another $5 million in matching contributions from the awardees, resulting in a $10 million total investment in the state. And, this is only the beginning, as my administration is committed to seeing every Kansan connected. Through this initial round of grants, we are laying a strong foundation to continue to build a robust broadband infrastructure for our state, now and into the future. Another large infrastructure project is the Turner Diagonal Interchange. Its project design reconfigured the interchange, which opened 300 acres of land for economic development and job creation. The area is already benefiting from immediate economic development. In anticipation of the new interchange, Amazon opened a fulfillment center in 2018, employing nearly 2,000 full-time employees and an additional 1,000

seasonal employees during the holidays. NorthPoint Development is currently constructing the $155 million Turner Logistics Center Industrial Park expected to generate an estimated 2,500 new jobs, primarily in manufacturing and warehousing. What sets Kansas apart from competing states for investments? Gov. Kelly: Kansas too often is perceived as just another rectangular state in the middle of the country. That’s why we are determined to work harder, be more creative and be more collaborative with our partners in striving for economic success that is good for Kansas businesses and families. Kansans have an extraordinary ability to work together and use our state’s unique resources to get things done in the best way possible. This indomitable can-do spirit, coupled with our unparalleled strengths in a skilled workforce, outstanding infrastructure and excellent schools have helped drive historic business investment in our state — and we aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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D O C

L E A D E R S H I P

I N T E R V I E W

This Is Not the Same Old Kansas Anymore Operating by a new playbook, the Framework for Growth, Kansas excels.

by R O N S TA R N E R

C

oming off a record year for economic development despite dealing with a global pandemic and nationwide recession, Kansas Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland says this is no time to become complacent. Stacked with a prospect pipeline that is as jam-packed as any the state has ever seen, Toland says that Kansas’ winning streak will continue in 2022. For more perspective on this, we interviewed Toland. What were your three biggest project wins of the year?

Topeka Kansas Photo: Gett y Images

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

David Toland: Kansas has landed some huge investments since the start of 2020, with successful expansions from both domestic and international firms. Our project pipeline is overflowing with a huge number of prospects. This dramatic push forward drove a recordsetting year for capital investment in 2021: more than $3.7 billion was invested by businesses — the highest amount in our state’s history — with nearly 14,000 jobs created or retained.


Top 5 capital investment projects from Jan. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021: • • • • •

SFC Global Supply Chain, Inc., Salina: $600 million — Food Manufacturing Hilmar Cheese, Dodge City: $459 million — Food Manufacturing Urban Outfitters, Kansas City, Kansas: $403 million — Logistics/Distribution Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Tonganoxie: $251 million — Food Manufacturing Lineage Logistics, Kansas City, Kansas: $110 million – Logistics/Distribution

Top 5 job creation projects from Jan. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021: • • • • •

Urban Outfitters, Kansas City, Kansas: 1,970 jobs — Logistics/Distribution Amazon, Inc., Kansas City, Kansas: 750 jobs — Logistics/Distribution Amazon, Inc., Park City: 700 jobs — Logistics/Distribution WellSky Corporation, Overland Park: 593 jobs — Professional Services Charter Communications, Inc., Overland Park: 510 jobs — Office

What are your top priorities for 2022? Toland: We are on a record-breaking pace for economic development since Governor Kelly took office, and remain focused on seizing still more new opportunities for rapid growth. The Kansas Framework for Growth, the Kelly administration’s strategic plan to grow Kansas now and in the future, is guiding us toward more economic development successes across all sectors. We have sound strategies in place to continue supporting the Kansas workforce and aligning talent with industry demand to get more people back to work in good-paying jobs. And we’re working every day to achieve gains in affordable housing; accessible childcare; improved broadband connectivity; and other ways to ensure the outstanding quality of life we need to keep Kansans here, and lure those who left back to our great state.

What role does quality of life play in economic development across Kansas? Toland: Quality of life is an essential component to economic development. Companies and people locate in strong communities where folks want to live. For this reason, quality of life is central to the Kelly Administration’s overall economic development efforts. As a state, Kansas is all in when it comes to improving communities and maximizing economic opportunities. Every new resident to Kansas starts first as a visitor, and the Kansas Tourism division works make our state a premier place to live and play. Governor Kelly has placed a high priority on elevating Tourism and aligning it with our overall economic development goals. With the Tourism division now located in the Department of Commerce, Kansas is focused on bringing new residents and new dollars to communities all across the state. In addition to Tourism, our Community Development Division and Office of Rural Prosperity at the Department of Commerce are doing extraordinary work in efforts to provide the tools and skills needed to create thriving, resilient communities. Governor Kelly has made a high priority of investments in infrastructure, the arts, downtown development and other areas good for rural communities, entrepreneurs and small businesses across our state. Every investment in critical infrastructure,

K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

21


for example, also helps communities compete when it comes to retaining and recruiting residents and businesses. This past year, we supercharged our efforts to empower Kansas communities through programs, partnerships and support. Among the gains achieved due to numerous initiatives in Kansas:

We are on a record-breaking pace for economic development since Governor Kelly took office, and we remain focused on seizing still more new opportunities for rapid growth. — Lt. Gov. David Toland

• More communities now are participating in Kansas Main Street, a proven economic development program Governor Kelly resurrected after taking office. We know vibrant downtowns are a key indicator of a community’s overall health. Plus, they significantly impact the quality of life we need to retain and attract residents. • The Community Development Division and the Office of Rural Prosperity continue to develop strategies to address critical housing gaps, such as repurposing upper stories in downtown districts. In addition, a longoverdue housing needs study completed in 2021 will continue to provide critical data for future state and local housing development efforts. • Historic Economic Asset Lifeline (HEAL) grants were created by the Department of Commerce to offer matching grants for the revitalization of underutilized, vacant or dilapidated downtown buildings. The grants are intended to bring buildings back into productive use as spaces for new or expanding businesses, childcare, housing, arts and culture, civic engagement or entrepreneurship. • A special round of CDBG grants — totaling 22

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

nearly $2.8 million — were awarded in 2021 to provide relief for communities as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding helped support more than 1,300 small businesses across the state, while retaining more than 5,300 jobs. What is your state’s best-kept secret? Toland: We’re offering the best place in the nation to do business and the best place to live and raise a family. We want folks who grow up in Kansas and those from beyond our borders to embrace our state’s appeal. Now more than ever before, Kansas is focused on attracting new residents and keeping talented graduates in our state. To ensure that they all have good places to call home, we’ve placed renewed emphasis on developing livable and workable communities in Kansas. These efforts range from impressive new plans for broadband expansion to the proliferation of Main Street programs, and beyond. Quality of life for all our workers — indeed, all our residents — is paramount. As global supply chain disruptions have hit virtually every industry on the planet, how does Kansas’ central U.S. location help businesses compete? Toland: Companies large and small are in the midst of rethinking their current supply chains. This represents a huge opportunity for Kansas. When it comes to reaching the entire U.S. market quickly and efficiently, there is no better place to locate than our state. With ready infrastructure and an outstanding workforce, Kansas can provide certainty and stability in company supply chains—making it the ideal place to invest and build more profitable sourcing and siting strategies. To support Kansas manufacturers, Governor Kelly recently announced the official launch of CONNEX™ Kansas, a new program from Kansas Manufacturing Solutions (KMS) and the Kansas Department of Commerce designed to strengthen the Kansas manufacturing supply chain. CONNEX™ Kansas is an online manufacturer database and connectivity


platform provided as a free resource for Kansas manufacturers. The platform is designed to allow manufacturers in Kansas to connect with each other, find local and domestic suppliers, explore production capabilities and manage their supply chain. What is Kansas doing to promote innovation and entrepreneurship? Toland: In June we launched the Office of Innovation and named Trent Armbrust our new Chief Strategy Officer to lead that office and the implementation of our Framework for Growth. The Framework — Kansas’ first economic development plan in more than 30 years — features four pillars, and one is innovation. Driving innovation into our economy is important in attracting business and people to Kansas. We also launched The Kansas Innovation and Technology Enterprise (KITE) to cultivate and support innovation in Kansas. Through KITE, companies with advanced, innovative technology can find resources to help them expand, creating additional revenue and new jobs in Kansas. KITE programs are designed to further research, spur commercialization and assist entrepreneurs in raising funds to expand their businesses.

The KITE Proof of Concept (POC) was also launched and is designed to fill a need for support where typical funding mechanisms are not available, acting as a bridge between federal funding for basic research and commercial seed funding by Angel or venture investors.

Kubota Logistics Campus Ribbon Cutting in Edgerton Photo: Kansas Department of Commerce

We’re offering the best place in the nation to do business and the best place to live and raise a family. — Lt. Gov. David Toland

The POC program is designed to assist in the establishment of promising new technologybased entrepreneurial ventures within the state, and the commercialization of inventions resulting from research conducted at Kansas public universities. The Kansas Angel Investor Tax Credit Program is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce and is designed to bring together accredited angel investors with qualified Kansas companies seeking early-stage investment. The “Kansas angels” program helps provide access to capital for Kansas start-ups.

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E N E R G Y

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Wind Belt Blows Dollars Into Area Economies by A D A M B R U N S

A

Photo: Gett y Images

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nyone who’s ever stood in a Kansas field knows the power of the wind that sweeps unimpeded across most of the state. As renewables of every stripe grow in critical mass across the nation, Kansas aims to play a powerful role at the center of America’s wind belt. The American Clean Power Association’s inaugural annual report, released in August 2021, noted the country welcomed 26,490 megawatts (MW) of new clean power installations in 2020, representing around $39 billion in project investments. Wind power represented 50% of those new installations. And when all clean power sources were tallied, Kansas, with 43.4% of its electricity generated by clean power, was No. 2 in the nation behind only Iowa. Kansas and Iowa are the only two states that generate more than 40% of their electricity with wind power. And like the wind, the momentum shows no signs of abating. Kansas added 916 MW of clean power in 2020, the 10th-highest total in the country. Moreover, the

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

state is No. 5 in the nation in cumulative clean power capacity, at 7,058 MW. The ACPA report noted clean power now employs more than 415,000 Americans, and in 2020 alone paid an estimated $1.7 billion in state and local taxes and nearly $800 million in land lease payments to landowners in mostly rural locations. Those findings were backed by a report released in March 2021 by the Polsinelli law firm’s energy practice group, which since 2012 has partnered with the Kansas Energy Information Network to assess the “Annual Economic Impacts of Kansas Wind Energy.” Among the facts noted in this latest report: • Since 2001, 40 utility-scale wind energy generation projects have been constructed in Kansas. Based on U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the 7,306 MW of wind generation in Kansas created an additional 11,441 jobs during the construction phase of the projects, and an additional 1,315 jobs during the operation phase of the projects.


Kansas Wind Farms LOCATION

COUNTY

MW

BEGAN OPERATION

Gray County

Gray

112

2001

Elk River

Butler

150

2005

Spearville

Ford

100.5

2006

Meridian Way

Cloud

204

2008

Smoky Hills I

Lincoln/Ellsworth

100.8

2008

Smoky Hills II

Lincoln/Ellsworth

150

2008

Central Plains

Wichita

99

2009

Flat Ridge 1

Barber

100

2009

Greensburg

Kiowa

12.5

2009

Spearville II

Ford

48

2010

Caney River

Elk

200

2010

Cimarron I

Gray

165

2011

Cimarron II

Gray

131

2012

Ensign

Gray

99

2012

Flat Ridge 2

Barber, Kingman, Sumner, Harper

470.4

2012

Ironwood

Ford

168

2012

Post Rock

Lincoln/Ellsworth

201

2012

Shooting Star

Kiowa

105

2012

Spearville III

Ford

100.8

2012

Buffalo Dunes

Finney, Haskell, Grant

249.75

2012

Alexander

Rush

48.3

2013

Buckeye

Ellis

200

2015

Cedar Bluff

Ness & Trego

200

2015

Slate Creek

Sumner

150

2015

Marshall

Marshall

74

2015

Waverly

Coffey

199

2016

Ninnescah

Pratt

200

2016

Kingman

Kingman

200

2017

Cimarron Bend

Clark

400

2017

Bloom

Ford/Clark

178

2017

Western Plains

Ford

280

2018

Pratt

Pratt

243.4

2018

Diamond Vista

Marion

300

2019

Solomon Forks

Thomas

276

2019

East Fork

Thomas

196

2019

Prairie Queen

Allen

199.3

2019

Reading

Lyon

200

2019

Neosho Ridge

Neosho

300

2020

Soldier Creek

Nemaha

300

2020

Cimarron Bend 3

Clark

199.9

2020

TOTAL MW

Source: U.S. DOE and Polsinelli LLP

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Rural Kansas has led the way in wind energy development for some time. Photo courtesy of U.S. DOE

• Wind generation from currently operating wind projects will bring over $1.6 billion in direct economic benefits to Kansas counties and landowners through contribution agreement payments, property tax payments and lease payments. • With costs routinely under $20 per megawatt-hour (MWh), new wind generation in Kansas is “now commonly less expensive than energy from traditional sources, including intermittent or peaking natural gas generation, and is almost always the lowest cost energy resource available.” • “By including wind farms in traditional electricity portfolios, utility companies are able to better hedge against potential increases in the price of coal and natural gas over the next 20 years, thus allowing them to better serve consumers.” The growth of wind power means great things for wind power manufacturing too. Just ask the folks at Siemens Gamesa in Hutchinson, where Siemens first opened a nacelle and hub manufacturing facility in 2010. In a celebratory news release from late 2020, Siemens Gamesa noted the facility had completed nearly 5,000 nacelles that were shipped to 16 states and three foreign countries. In that time, the headcount at the plant has approximately doubled since those first 130 employees opened the facility. “I joined this company when we had a small office in downtown Hutchinson,” said Doug Fulton, the company’s first employee in 2010 who now is the plant manager. “I watched a patch of dirt turn into a multi-million-dollar, LEED-Gold certified facility that I’m proud to lead today.”

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NEXT-GEN GENERATION Among the Polsinelli report’s observations was this about the future: “Despite the significant growth that the Kansas wind industry has experienced over the past few years, the vast majority of the state’s wind resources remain untapped. This growth potential is attributable to many factors, including the fact that the wind resource in Kansas is still significantly underutilized, with a large number of potential project sites ready to be developed. While some potential wind project sites require incremental improvements in wind generation technology, many simply await a buyer or require expansion of transmission infrastructure to bring the electricity to markets and consumers.” Kansas City–based utility Evergy is one organization ready to tap that potential. In October 2021, Evergy issued a request for proposals for its purchase of up to 1,000 MW of wind energy to be in service by 2026. “Projects that achieve commercial operation by mid-2024 and year-end 2025 will be given preference,” the utility said. “Wind resources must be a minimum of 50 MW and interconnect to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). Siting preference will be given to projects located in Kansas.” A 2018 integrated resource plan filed by Evergy reported that the estimated “utility cost plus probable environmental cost” of wind was $48.15 per MWh, compared to coal at $82.80, coal with carbon capture at $111.80 and combined cycle natural gas at $58.80. Evergy has outlined its plan to expand ownership of renewable energy and to retire fossil-fueled generation as the company works toward its 2045 target for net zero carbon emissions. These wind projects would fulfill the plan to add up to 1,000 MW of wind energy by 2026 with projects that benefit from production tax credits. Economic developers within and outside of Evergy know well the appeal of renewables to global multinationals looking to site facilities in places with high sustainability profiles. And the Polsinelli report’s final recommendation captures exactly why the profile of Kansas is rising like a zephyr building momentum across the plains: “With companies increasingly asking for renewable energy,” Polsinelli authors Alan Claus Anderson, Andrew Schulte and Luke Hagedorn conclude, “Kansas must use its strategic geographical location to remain competitive in attracting industry.”



I N F R A S T R U C T U R E

Grants Boost Rural The Digital-Focused

G

overnor Laura Kelly announced in March 2021 the Broadband Acceleration Grant Program, which will improve access to highspeed internet for homes and businesses in communities by M A R K statewide. “Broadband access has been an overlooked problem in Kansas and across the country for years — but my administration knows it’s a game-changer, particularly for rural and underserved areas of our state,” Governor Kelly said. “These grants use an aggressive timeline to support urgent broadband needs that came to light during the pandemic. We’re committed to ensuring every Kansan has access to the connection they need for telehealth, virtual school, and to

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ensure business can compete in an increasingly digital-focused economy.” The Broadband Acceleration Grant Program is critical in Kansas’ plan to address broadband gaps statewide. Funds will be targeted to areas AREND that are unlikely to receive broadband service without state or federal funding support. Launched in 2020, the program is poised to invest $85 million over 10 years to bridge the digital divide in Kansas, thanks to broadband modernization funding provided by the Kelly Administration’s bipartisan Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE). Since the summer of 2020, Governor Kelly’s efforts have spurred more than $75 million of total investment in broadband infrastructure in


Participation In Economy Kansas to address pandemic health, education and business challenges and spur community and economic development. The first program, the Connectivity Emergency Response Grant funded through the state SPARK program, generated more than $65 million in total investment through 66 broadband infrastructure projects completed across the state. Impacting rural communities in 74 of Kansas’ 105 counties, the program improved the availability of broadband access for more than 51,000 households, businesses and municipalities. The initial year of the Broadband Acceleration Grant invested an additional $10 million in state broadband grants and matching funds. ‘ONLY THE BEGINNING’ “We said we would be aggressive about

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29


improving broadband access, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” David Toland, Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary, said. “This is only the beginning, and the Kelly administration is committed to seeing every Kansan connected. Through this initial round of grants, we are laying a strong foundation to continue to build a robust broadband infrastructure for our state, now and into the future.” Awardee Communities EpicTouch Communications

Liberal

Haviland Broadband

Norwich

KwiKom Communications Moundridge Communications

making scarce funding dollars stretch as far as possible by building on previous successes in our pandemic response programs,” Director of the Kansas Office of Broadband Development Stanley Adams said. “Governor Kelly recognizes that robust broadband access is necessary for all communities, and I appreciate her commitment to this effort. As a result, many more Kansans will be connected.” In October 2020, Governor Kelly signed Grant Award $594,752

Matching Total Broadband Funds Investment $594,752

$1,189,504

$87,405

$87,405

$174,810

Altoona, Fredonia, Thayer

$331,985

$331,985

$663,970

Elyria, Hesston

$312,819

$312,819

$625,638

Nex-Tech Bird City, Atwood, McDonald

$875,923

$875,923

$1,751,846

OnePoint Technologie

Bern

$255,357

$255,357

$510,714

OnePoint Technologies

Winifred

$75,547

$75,547

$151,094

OnePoint Technologies

Blue Rapids

$156,202

$156,202

$312,404

OnePoint Technologies

Frankfort

$194,375

$194,375

$388,750

S&A Telephone

Americus

100,890

100,890

$201,780

SC Telcom

Barber County

$641,300

$641,300

$1,282,600

SC Telcom

Pratt

$805,000

$805,000

$1,610,000

SKT Inc.

Haysville

$62,616

$62,616

$125,232

WTC Communications

Zeandale

$505,829

$505,829

$1,011,658

Network

“COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the importance of broadband connectivity as it relates to distance learning, remote work and telehealth services,” said Julie Lorenz, Transportation Secretary. “It’s critical infrastructure as important as safe roads, bridges and drinking water.” Applicants, awarded grant amounts and matching investments are as indicated in the chart above. “The efficient infrastructure deployments enabled through these grants are vital to

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

Executive Order #20-67 to establish the Office of Broadband Development and announced the distribution of nearly $50 million in Connectivity Emergency Response Grant (CERG) funds to underserved communities across Kansas. The projects are funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund of the federal CARES Act and are part of the connectivity program approved by the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce and the State Finance Council.



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E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P

Innovation Takes Root In the Heartland

W Kansas hubs are proving grounds for world-changing innovation.

by S AVA N N A H K I N G

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

ith more than 250,000 small businesses across the state, the American Dream is alive and well in the heartland. In addition to a favorable business climate and low tax environment, Kansas doesn’t hold back when it comes to helping entrepreneurs meet their goals and create new technologies and opportunities. Whether through Kansas Innovation and Technology Enterprise (KITE) programs and tax credits, the newly extended Kansas Angel Investor Tax Credit, or the plethora of incubators and accelerators located in cities across the state, entrepreneurs are wellsupported in Kansas. In Topeka, innovative startups have access to a variety of entrepreneurial environments, including the world-famous Animal Health



center will allow GO Topeka the ability to offer incentivized lease space to startups and reinforce our influence in the animal health and agriculture technology sectors for years to come.” INNOVATION LEADS THE WAY AT KANSAS UNIVERSITIES Kansas’ pioneering legacy also lives on today in the state’s robust network of innovation and entrepreneurial hubs of higher education with essential ties to the state’s leading industries — from manufacturing to life sciences. As manufacturing evolves Corridor, Plug and Play ag-tech accelerator and becomes more efficient, The Smart Factory program and the ASTRA (Animal Science, @ Wichita is leading the way in partnership Technology, Research and Agriculture) with Deloitte and creating a culture of Innovation Center and District. collaboration and learning. The Smart Factory The $14.5 million innovation campus is is a 60,000-sq.-ft. sustainable space located being developed to take advantage of 20 global on Wichita State University’s Innovation startups participating each year in the city’s Campus includes a fully operational new Plug and Play Animal Health accelerator production line and experiential labs to program. Based in Silicon Valley, Plug and develop and explore smart factory innovative Play is an innovation platform connecting capabilities. The Smart Factory @ Wichita startups and the world’s largest corporations. is a highly digitized, connected production The ASTRA Innovation Center will be a facility that uses artificial intelligence (AI), 60,000-sq.-ft. project anchoring the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics to help emerging ASTRA Innovation companies manufacture products, create District in downtown Topeka and new business value, unlock data-driven is set to open in 2022. ASTRA insights, and automate or eliminate Innovation Center will offer business processes. world-class facilities, including Earlier this year, Kansas wet labs, flexible work and University’s Bioscience & Technology meeting spaces. It will feature Business Center changed its name in office space for business research response to a broadened vision for the Robert Knapp future of the campus. KU Innovation Park and innovation and a rooftop venue for events. In September, BioRealty, is a not-for-profit economic development the firm developing the center, selected one organization and business incubator. The of the most iconic retail spaces in the heart of Park’s mission is to create high-paying Kansas downtown Topeka along with two neighboring jobs and create a more diverse and resilient properties. The innovation district is expected Kansas economy by developing bioscience to cement the city’s emerging status as a and technology industry clusters around the critical hub for innovation in the Midwest. strengths of the University of Kansas. “GO Topeka purchased land at the Kanza From its original 20,000 sq. ft. incubator Fire Commerce Park in 2009. $1B in capital building on the university’s west campus, KU investment followed, positioning our city to Innovation Park now manages nearly 100,000 become a leader in the supply chain for the sq. ft. across three locations, including a Midwest”, said Molly Howey, President of laboratory expansion facility in West Lawrence GO Topeka, “The ASTRA Innovation Center and the incubator at the KU Medical Center has the potential to be equally catalytic. This campus in Kansas City. Currently, the Park 34

KANSAS: TO THE STARS


system includes 61 high-tech and bioscience companies representing more than 485 highwage jobs. “One of the Park’s distinctive functions, and the primary value to its private-sector customers, is its ability to facilitate privateindustry engagement and collaboration with the University, and to enhance the accessibility and utility of University resources to the broader business community by serving as a liaison between public and private stakeholders,” said Robert Knapp, executive vice president of The KU Innovation Park. “In addition to direct assistance navigating and making connections to university research resources, the Park’s close proximity to the university supports the development of a strong talent pipeline through interns and recent graduates.” In September, KU Innovation Park was named one of 84 winners of the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. The award recognizes entrepreneur support organizations that provide targeted assistance to launch, grow, and scale high-tech small businesses. Winners were selected based on proposals for innovative ideas that inclusively support entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations. Funds from this award will augment KU Innovation Park’s provision of business services through its existing incentive fund, a portion of which is provided by the City and County and is allocated specifically towards supporting women-owned and minorityowned startups. In addition, funding is used to subsidize participation in the Park’s ‘Virtual Tenant Program’ which includes access to shared workspaces, mentorship and counsel, grant assistance, general business administrative support, and technical support through the Park’s student business analyst program. Currently, approximately 40% of the KU Innovation Park system companies were founded or are owned by women and people of color. “This award recognizes KU Innovation Park’s commitment to supporting and growing innovative companies in a manner that proactively supports entrepreneurs from underserved and underrepresented populations, including women and people of color, within our region,” says LaVerne Epp, Executive Chairman of the KU Innovation Park. “SBA has been a great supporter of our efforts to build an engine of economic growth, and we’re grateful for their continued support.”

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H I G H E R

E D U C A T I O N

&

W O R K F O R C E

D E V E L O P M E N T

Workforce Within Reach Kansas universities keep higher education within reach for the state’s workforce. 36

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

by S AVA N N A H K I N G


Kansas State University

degree as well, with 32.9% versus the national average of 31.5%. Additionally, more than 40% of adults over the age of 25 in Kansas have an associate degree. The following is an overview of the state’s public four-year universities. It provides a peek into the institutions’ unique impact on the state’s workforce pipelines, innovative markets and key industries.

University of Kansas

I

n 2020, 117,469 students enrolled in fall semester classes at Kansas Board of Regent universities and technical colleges across the state. With 32 public higher education institutions (six state universities, one municipal university, 19 community colleges and six technical colleges) across the state, a high-quality and affordable education is easily within reach. The state’s graduation rates highlight its attitude toward education. The high school graduation rate in the U.S. is 87.7%, while Kansas’ rate surpasses the national average at 90.7%. More Kansans hold at least a bachelor’s

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS The University of Kansas (KU), the state’s flagship university and a premier research institution, has five campuses and several online offerings. The university’s main campus in Lawrence is considered one of the country’s most beautiful. KU has an additional campus in Overland Park, with three medical campus branches in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina. KU offers more than 200 undergraduate degrees and has more than 50 ranked graduate programs, with a total annual enrollment of 28,500 students. The university ranks highly for its academic programs and is one of only 36 public institutions in the Association of American Universities. KU’s distinguished record of research innovation runs the gamut with several core research labs, including the Animal Care Unit, Biopharmaceutical Innovation and Optimization Center, the Center for Research Computing, Infectious Disease Assay Development Core, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Lab and many others.

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37


Kansas State University

Wichita State University

KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY Kansas State University (K-State) has earned national recognition over the years for its research capabilities. With more than 22,000 students enrolled in more than 250 academic undergraduate programs and more than 165 graduate degrees and certificate programs, the university is a crucial pipeline for the state’s talent needs. In 2020, K-State recorded its largest-ever number of engineering graduates and the most of any engineering school in the state. K-State operates four unique campuses, each with its own specialty and focus. The university’s main campus is in Manhattan, next door to the Fort Riley U.S. Army installation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Bio and AgroDefense Facility. The university’s campus in Olathe, located within the Kansas Bioscience Park, has a reputation for partnering with industries to develop new technologies and key innovations. In addition, the K-State Polytechnic campus in Salina is known for its world-class aviation program and is one of the first and only in the country offering a bachelor’s degree in unmanned aircraft.

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WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY With a key focus on innovation and technology, Wichita State University (WSU) is a growing research university enrolling more than 20,000 students annually. WSU is located in the largest city in the state, with one of the highest concentrations of STEM jobs. For more than a decade, WSU has been one of the fastest-growing research universities in the country. Annual research funding tops $164 million at WSU and includes various


industries, including bioscience, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, physics, and more. WSU ranks fourth among all U.S. universities in aeronautical research and development expenditures and first in industry funding for aeronautical research. The Innovation Campus, part of Wichita State University’s main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and home to a number of global companies and organizations. Additionally, WSU Tech — an affiliate of Wichita State — is the state’s leader in modern technical education, offering over 100 degree and certificate options in aviation, health care, manufacturing, design, information technology, police science and business. In addition, WSU Tech serves as managing partner of the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) in Wichita.

WASHBURN UNIVERSITY Washburn University, a municipal university in the heart of Topeka, enrolls just under 7,000 students in more than 200 academic programs. Washburn University is nationally recognized for its low-student debt, low student-to-faculty ratio, and affordability. Recently, education technology company EAB recognized Washburn University’s work on behalf of student achievement with its Student Success Collaborative - Technology Pioneer Award. The award recognizes an institution consistently on the leading edge in technology and testing new solutions to advance student success. Washburn Institute of Technology offers professionaal courses with programs in advanced manufacturing, business, computer science and health care.

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PITTSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY With its Flat-Rate Tuition program, students at Pittsburg State University (PSU) pay a single tuition rate, regardless of how many credits are taken. The program allows University of Kansas

full-time undergraduate and graduate students to take extra classes — even earn a double major — without spending more. Located in Pittsburg, the university enrolls approximately 6,500 annually. Home to the Kansas Polymer Research Center (KPRC) is internationally recognized for chemistry and materials science, specializing in bio-based polymer research and development. KPRC works with industry and government to develop and commercialize the university’s intellectual property. In August, the National Institute of Standards and Technology awarded a $1.4 million research grant to KPRC to develop and promote new polymeric materials and plastic processing materials. It will be used by the National Institute for Materials Advancement (NIMA), housed in the KPRC, which will leverage a 50-year history in polymers and plastics, the expertise of scientists who work there, and the assistance of students enrolled in one of the nation’s only polymer programs: the Polymer Chemistry Initiative.

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

EMPORIA STATE UNIVERSITY With more than 200 academic programs and 5,800 students enrolled each year, Emporia State University (ESU) offers students a high-quality and affordable education. ESU boasts the lowest student debt rate of all four-year universities in Kansas and is the only public university in the state to be named a College of Distinction. Additionally, ESU is ranked the No. 1 safest college campus in the state. In September, the university announced another year of a record-high number of graduate students. Data also showed continued record highs in student retention as well as the highest graduation rates recorded.


Kansas State University

Distance education, primarily at the graduate level, fueled growth to the university. Emporia State offers 13 accelerated online graduate programs. Of the students enrolled in these programs, 76% are Kansas residents. FORT HAYS STATE UNIVERSITY Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays enrolls more than 15,900 students annually. FHSU has the lowest tuition rates in the Kansas Board of Regents system and provides one of the nation’s best educational values. FHSU consistently ranks among the top regional universities in the Midwest. In rankings released Sept. 13, 2021, by U.S. News & World Report, Emporia State

University was the highest-ranked Kansas public regional institution and the only one that ranked in social mobility for its graduates. In November, the university launched a new agribusiness MBA degree. The Robbins College of Business MBA program courses is offered in five accelerated, eight-week terms during the calendar year, providing more choice and flexibility. It helps students finish the program more quickly and has dedicated professional advisors to help guide students through the MBA process. The MBA program also has a rolling admission process that allows for multiple start dates throughout the year and does not require the GMAT or GRE.

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41


M A D E

I N

K A N S A S

Made in KANSAS New program touts the manufacturing prowess of the Sunflower State.

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When you get on an airplane in this country, the odds are high that you are traveling in an aircraft made with parts produced in Kansas. — Jan Kessinger, Manager of Special Projects, Kansas Department of Commerce

F

by R O N S TA R N E R

rom the Boeing 737 to Mars candy bars, products manufactured in Kansas are popular the world over. In fact, they’re so popular that the Kansas Department of Commerce recently launched a Made in Kansas incentive program to tout the products made in the state. Paul Hughes, deputy secretary for business development for the Kansas DOC, says the goal of the new program is to “let the world know what’s made in Kansas. As products move around the country and the world, we want consumers to know that many of the items they’re purchasing come from our state.” Kansas-based manufacturing companies are invited to apply for the program and participate in it. Qualifying companies are eligible to receive incentives from the DOC. “It is part of a national program for manufacturers,” says Hughes. “We are confident that many of our companies will want to learn more about it. We are still adding to the program.” The program runs the gamut of all major industries in Kansas, from aerospace and food and beverage processing to machinery, motor vehicles and parts, and nonmetallic mineral products. Benefits of participation, according to the DOC, include an elite designation featuring a unique Made in Kansas seal; promotion of the company’s products through digital and social media efforts of DOC; and various networking opportunities made available to members through the DOC and the Made in Kansas program. To be eligible for the Made in Kansas program, a business must have at least 50% of its products’ components produced in

Kansas; all final assembly must take place in Kansas; and the production must use a manufacturing process. The Kansas DOC is solely responsible for considering and approving the applications to the program. There is no charge to a company for membership and participation. While the program is just now getting off the ground, Kansas is already known as a hotbed of manufacturing. Among the more well-known products coming from the state are Boeing aircraft, Mars candies, Smokey Bros Smoked Hot Sauce, Schlaegel’s Homegrown Popcorn, Lost Trail Root Beer, Cobalt Boats, LaCrosse Furniture, Holmes Made Salsa, Cedar Street Toffee, Grannie’s Homemade Mustard and Oz Clocks. Jan Kessinger, special projects manager for the Kansas Department of Commerce, says the program is similar to what is currently being offered in states such as Georgia and Texas. “A construction company in Kansas wanted to start one here a few years ago to boost Kansas manufacturers, but it never gained traction,” says Kessinger. “Once we have 50 to 100 partners, we believe it will really start to take off.” He adds that, “when you get on an airplane in this country, the odds are high that you are traveling in an aircraft made with parts produced in Kansas. We want to change the perception of company executives in other states and help them see that we are not just a bunch of food growers in Kansas. We make goods used the world over. We also plan to use this program to promote our geographically central location, which is very ideal from a transportation standpoint for getting raw materials in and manufactured products out.”

Photo: Gett y Images K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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A D V A N C E D

M A N U F A C T U R I N G

Manufacturing

MOMENTUM

A

Manufacturing employs 11% of the Kansas workforce. Photo: Gett y Images

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“We thought we had reached a point where s the self-proclaimed “Air Capital it wasn’t going to happen,” says Neodesha of the World,” Wichita, Kansas Community Development Director Jeri needs no introduction to the world Hammerschmidt. of advanced manufacturing. Yet, That it did happen is a testament to when it comes to prowess at making things teamwork and to a measure of foresight on — and making them well — Wichita shares the part of the Kansas State legislature. One the stage with cities and towns across Kansas. of Sicut’s imperatives was a Aided by business-friendly rail spur to connect its site in policies at the state level by G A R Y D A U G H T E R S Neodesha to the existing South and a solid, Midwestern Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad line. The city, workforce, such lesser-known burghs with however, couldn’t afford to build it on its own. names like Humboldt, Dodge City, Chanute, The Kansas Department of Transportation Bonner Springs, Hugoton, Emporia and (KDOT), in Hammerschmidt’s telling, “came to Montgomery have recently accumulated major our rescue.” manufacturing investments. In collaboration with the Kansas Department The small town of Neodesha offers another of Commerce and the Watco Companies, a example. Nestled near the state’s extreme railroad enterprise based in nearby Pittsburg, southeastern corner, Neodesha — population Hammerschmidt turned to KDOT and its 2,083 — scored a major win in May 2021, Economic Development Program, a component when London-based Sicut Enterprises of the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation announced plans to establish it as its North Program, or IKE. American hub for recycling composite plastic IKE was approved with strong bipartisan railroad ties. The selection process did not support by the 2020 Kansas Legislature and lack drama.

KANSAS: TO THE STARS


signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly. “Funding for Economic Development grants through IKE improves critical infrastructure so new and existing Kansas businesses can compete across the world,” says Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz. “This project is another example of infrastructure investment growing the Kansas economy.” The $343,000 in grant funding as provided by KDOT through IKE will be used to build the needed spur, thus allowing raw materials to be shipped into the plant and the finished products sent to customers throughout the United States. The upshot: 135 new jobs for Neodesha. “It’s a huge win for Neodesha,” says Hammerschmidt. “It’s putting us on the map.” SPREADING THE WEALTH The length and breadth of Kansas is dotted with more than 2,500 manufacturers that employ more than 165,000 workers, about 11% of the Kansas workforce. In addition to aerospace companies, such as the many represented in Wichita, they include producers of foods and beverages, computers, electronics, plastics, paper and other products. In August 2021, Kansas City-based Bartlett, announced plans to invest $325 million in a soybean crushing facility in Montgomery County. Refined soybean oil from the plant is to be used in the production of renewable fuels, food products and animal feeds. Bartlett operates more than a half-dozen similar plants in Kansas already. The new one is to create 50 jobs. “This is an important milestone for our project, enabling infrastructure investment in Kansas that accelerates the nation’s transition to a cleaner, greener and more sustainable transportation system,” said Barlett President Bob Knief. Kansas Dairy Ingredients (KDI) is in the process of creating 40 new jobs through a $45 million expansion of its cheese and butter making plant in Hugoton. Utilizing locally-sourced milk, the facility is to produce American-style, Italian-style and Hispanic-style cheese and European-style cheese and butter. Americans who are turning to new

ways of vacationing during the COVID-19 pandemic are driving RV sales to new heights, prompting Wichita-based Airxcel to hire 135 people to address increased demand. Airxcel manufactures composite panels for RVs and has developed systems for RV heating, cooling, ventilation and cooking. “Since the COVID-19 slowdown, our business has experienced a 50% growth rate as people seek a way to safely vacation with their families,” said Sandra Jessop, senior VP of operations and engineering. “We’re adding a large number of positions at our Wichita facility to meet this increased demand and help local families who have experienced job loss during the pandemic.” Pandemic-inspired attention increasingly being paid to allergens has led EnviroKlenz, owned by Topeka-based Timilon Technology Acquisitions, to open a new air purifier production plant. The facility has created 35 new jobs in the company’s hometown with the prospect of accommodating 30 more. In

addition to manufacturing the company’s patented air purifiers, scientists at the plant are to conduct research into new technologies to improve and increase air filtration. “From using technology developed at Kansas State and investing in the best research equipment,” says Timilon VP of operations George Negron, “we have the brightest minds at work here in Topeka.” K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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C O R P O R A T E

A N D

P R O F E S S I O N A L

S E R V I C E S

Where Key Business Sectors Find Their Support Services

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Kansas State University College of Business Administration Source: Kansas State Universit y

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by M A R K A R E N D

erhaps some of the more than 7,000 Kansas graduates specializing in corporate and professional services annually are among the more than 1,400 such jobs created in 2021. If so, they will join a workforce of some 60,000 such employees already at work in Kansas, providing a variety of professional services to the state’s aerospace, advanced manufacturing, bioscience, animal health and other key sectors. If this year’s corporate services investment activity is any indication, supply of talent comfortably outweighs demand, making those graduates available to other companies seeking a central U.S. location in which to service their clients wherever they may be. Two of this year’s corporate and professional services projects went to Overland Park, the second most populous city in Kansas. Charter Communications, a top broadband company and cable operator, will open a new customer retention center in the Kansas City suburb, creating 510 new full-time jobs by the end of 2022. The leading connectivity provider’s expansion will invest nearly $19 million in the facility. “A diverse and talented workforce in

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

Overland Park and surrounding areas, combined with our strong partnerships with the State of Kansas and the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, made expansion here an obvious choice,” said Dave Lampman, Group Vice President of Retention at Charter. “We look forward to beginning the hiring process soon, in support of our commitment to deliver outstanding service to our customers while providing excellent career opportunities in the community.” TTEC Holdings, Inc., a world leader in global digital customer experience technology and services, will create 450 new jobs in Overland Park. The company is initially creating work-from-home positions to ultimately be housed within a new office location being built in Overland Park. These positions will be a hybrid of on-site and remote work. The company works with businesses around the world to assist with customer experiences through digital enhancements, including cloud storage services, improved analytics and machine learning. TTEC will use its AI-enabled learning and performance program to rapidly train candidates with preexisting customer service experience.


What makes Kansas City such an attractive location for TTEC is the thriving technology scene, its cultural diversity and its focus on education. — Darryl Prater, senior vice president of global service delivery, TTEC

A THRIVING TECHNOLOGY SCENE “What makes Kansas City such an attractive location for TTEC is the thriving technology scene, its cultural diversity and its focus on education,” said Darryl Prater, senior vice president of global service delivery. “We are thrilled to be opening a new location in Overland Park and are committed to making these jobs as accessible as possible to a diverse talent pool.” Communications Solutions, LLC (CSLLC) will expand its operations in Emporia, midway between Kansas City and Wichita, creating 250 new jobs. CSLLC is a premier provider of Business-to-Business and Business-toConsumer Call Center services. The company is purchasing a facility to create a new call center in response to growing customer demand. Emporia’s selection was due in part to an agreement with Evergy, which will provide Communications Solutions with electricity. Accelerate360, a marketing, sales, logistics, and media conglomerate, will be expanding operations in Kansas with the opening of a 455,000-sq.-ft. facility in Olathe, Kansas. The state-of-the-art facility will create 167 new full-time jobs over the next three years and represents more than $31 million in new capital investment in the state.

The company was originally founded more than 100 years ago and has a proven track record in Direct Store Delivery and Direct to Consumer fulfillment, as well as sourcing, retail program development, marketing, sales, category management, and media solutions. Accelerate360 is the largest magazine wholesaler in North America and owns more than 30 media brands, including US Weekly and Men’s Journal. It’s investing heavily in technology, data analytics, and system enhancements to increase their offerings related to the distribution of consumer packaged goods and eCommerce fulfillment services provided to retailers, brands and consumers. Novacoast is opening a Security Operations Center in Wichita, where it plans to initially hire 60 employees, primarily security analysts, with plans for continued growth. Based in Santa Barbara, many of Novacoast’s customers are highly regulated global firms, including global banks, healthcare and energy companies. Its subsidiary, Novacoast Federal, provides services to agencies like NASA, U.S. Patent & Trademark, the IRS and the Federal Reserve System, among others. Novacoast currently represents 12 of the 20 largest international financial institutions. K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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On the Menu:

Kansas Has the Right Ingredients

by M A R K A R E N D

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Photo: Gett y Images

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here’s nothing cheesy about Kansas’ booming food processing industry, unless you count two recently announced cheese production facilities that will add nearly 300 new jobs to the sector. They’ll join about 103,000 others working in foodand beverage-related facilities in the state. That’s 7.4% of the workforce. Food processing accounts for more than a fifth of Kansas’ manufacturing industry, and it contributes more than $5 billion to its economy. Dairy is among the top agriculture-based commodities produced in Kansas, and the two new cheese facilities will keep that momentum on track. In May 2021, Hilmar Cheese Company announced plans to build a major production facility in Dodge City, in Southwest Kansas. The new $460 million investment will create 247 new full-time jobs, with plans for further expansion in the future. Governor Laura Kelly said the location is “perfect because of its proximity to high-quality producers and a top-notch workforce. It’s great to see another major food manufacturer recognizing the benefits of locating in Kansas.” Hilmar Cheese Company is one of the

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

world’s largest producers of high-quality cheese and whey products and is the latest prominent food manufacturer in a long line of such companies investing in Kansas since January 2019, along with Schwan’s Company, Pretzels LLC, Empirical Foods and others. “Dodge City gives us many opportunities including a local and skilled labor force, a supportive and expanding agricultural region, and an excellent transportation network that allows us to easily reach our expanding markets,” said CEO and President of Hilmar Cheese Company David Ahlem. “We’re really happy with our decision and excited about becoming a part of this outstanding community.” MILK SUPPLY IS A LOCATION FACTOR In June, Kansas Dairy Ingredients (KDI) Cheese Company said it will expand its operations in Southwest Kansas, too, creating 40 new jobs and investing $45 million in Hugoton. The facility will produce Americanstyle, Italian-style, Hispanic-style Cheese and European-style cheese and butter. “Kansas Dairy Ingredients is a great asset


to our community,” said Hugoton Mayor Jack Rowden. “KDI has been providing good jobs in Hugoton since they came here in 2013. KDI continues to expand their operation and with the new expansion will be providing 40 new job opportunities for our citizens. Hugoton and Stevens County are very fortunate to have Kansas Dairy Ingredients in our community.” A major factor in the decision to expand in Hugoton was the high-quality local milk supply, according to Tim Gomez, CEO of KDI Cheese Company, said. “The local dairy community has invested greatly into Kansas for many years, and they have supported KDI since day one. We now have an opportunity to give that support back by providing a secure, long-term home for their milk. We started construction in December of 2020 and are on target to receive milk in October of 2021. We have already added several positions to facilitate our training, thus minimizing the commissioning time once construction is complete.” Also in June, Wichita-based Bev-Hub announced it is investing more than $28 million in Manhattan to renovate a former brewery to meet manufacturing demands, creating 37 new jobs. The company assists beverage manufacturers through the co-packing process. Services include processing and testing beverages, canning, labeling, shipping and storage. Products handled include nitro cold brew, still cold brew, nitro cold brew lattes, cold brew lattes, tea and water. According to the company, the talent pipeline resulting from Kansas State University’s strengths in food

science and safety was a key component in Manhattan’s selection. PETS ARE PEOPLE, TOO Hill’s Pet Nutrition is expanding its footprint in the Kansas City metro with recently announced plans to build a new pet food manufacturing plant in Tonganoxie. It will invest more than $250 million to construct a new 300,000-square-foot facility, bringing at least 80 new jobs to the community by 2025. The company says Tonganoxie was selected for this investment based on the location’s industrial park, strong community partnerships, workforce strengths and proximity to distribution requirements for the facility. It also noted the benefits of doing business in Kansas as part of the KC Animal Health Corridor, home to more than 300 animal health companies, representing the largest such concentration in the world. The KC Animal Health Corridor now accounts for 56% of total worldwide animal health, diagnostics and pet food sales. “Hill’s Pet Nutrition is excited to be growing our roots in Kansas,” said Jesper Nordengaard, president of Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “We’ve been part of the community for almost 80 years, and this new facility will help us to meet our mission of enriching and lengthening the special relationships between people and their pets by providing our high quality nutrition.” Plans for the new plant call for a state-of-the-art version of Hill’s Topeka plant, the only other Hill’s plant in the world producing canned pet food.

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L O G I S T I C S

&

D I S T R I B U T I O N

Supply Chain Central

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hen companies are looking to right-shore operations, manage costs and bring balance to a tangled global supply chain, there’s no more central place than Kansas. But companies have known that for far by A D A M longer than the most recent crunch. Over the past three years, Site Selection magazine’s Conway Projects Database has tracked more than 40 new investments in logistics facilities in the Sunflower State. How important is the industry? Among other indicators, logistics and distribution employees in Kansas have been considered essential workers as federal CARES Act funding was distributed. The sector is also essential to the state’s record-breaking economic development success, as Governor Laura Kelly announced in December 2021 that her administration had closed 312 private-sector economic development projects representing more than $3.69 billion in investments and more than 12,000 jobs.

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

The logistics projects on that list help keep global commerce afloat. Walmart’s $200 million, 300-job fulfillment center is ramping up at Kanza Fire Commerce Park in Topeka. The company picked the site in 2019, two years after BRUNS its corporate PR staff blogged about Topeka in showcasing the retail giant’s support of U.S. manufacturing at the Mars Wrigley plant in the state capital. The project was supported by $150 million in industrial revenue bonds approved by Shawnee County commissioners. The facility is one of four Walmart DCs in the state (the others are in Ottawa, Edgerton and Kansas City, Kansas). Its 1.8-million-sq.-ft. footprint makes it the largest in the state. That’s even larger than the three facilities Amazon announced in 2020 in Park City, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas (the e-commerce giant’s second facility in that municipality). Since 2010, Amazon has created more than 4,500 jobs in Kansas and invested more than $2.9 billion across the state, including infrastructure and compensation to employees.



Selected Kansas Logistics Projects, Jan. 2018-Oct. 2021 Company

County

City

Inv. (US$M)

Jobs

Site Area (Ksq.ft.)

Urban Outfitters, Inc.

Wyandotte

Kansas City

350

2,000

880

Amazon.com, Inc.

Sedgwick

Park City

75

700

1,000

Amazon.com, Inc.

Wyandotte

Kansas City

75

500

1,000

Orizon Aerostructures, LLC

Johnson

Olathe

127.3

400

175

Walmart Inc.

Shawnee

Topeka

200

300

1,800

Amazon.com, Inc.

Johnson

Shawnee

30

200

170

Accelerate360 LLC

Johnson

Olathe

31

160

455

Hostess Brands, Inc.

Johnson

Edgerton

2.3

150

NA

Harte-Hanks Inc.

Wyandotte

Kansas City

NA

125

297

Beyond Warehousing

Johnson

Edgerton

11.9

110

270

Medline

Wyandotte

Bonner Springs

77.5

100

NA

Amazon.com, Inc.

Sedgwick

Wichita

30

100

140

Turn 5, Inc.

Johnson

Lenexa

13

100

350

Overstock.com, Inc.

Wyandotte

Kansas City

NA

100

NA

American Construction Metals

Johnson

Shawnee

NA

100

120

Source: Conway Projects Database

70 Business Park (along I-70) is part of the company’s Healthcare Resiliency Initiative BONNER SPRINGS to increase supply-chain efficiencies and BEELINE FOR MEDLINE Global companies with regional growth reliability, and speed delivery to customers requirements are also finding Kansas solutions at an essential time for those services to — or outgrowing the sites they located in the health-care providers. But the prescient HRI area years ago. program was in place before the pandemic Beyond Warehousing, a 3PL subsidiary of struck. During its first three years of (2018 NorthPoint Development located at Logistics to 2020), Medline invested $1.5 billion in Park Kansas City in Edgerton less than one new distribution centers, manufacturing mile from the BNSF intermodal facility, capabilities, and IT upgrades, creating 8,500 says one of its earliest customers is saving new jobs at eight new distribution centers. more than $175,000 annually on total supply “Our state-of-the-art, medical-grade chain costs thanks to taking advantage of the distribution center will allow us to deliver building’s location in its new transportation critical healthcare supplies to the entire and warehousing plan. continuum of healthcare, quicker, more In October 2021, efficiently, and to Illinois-based medical a broader territory, supply manufacturer while creating and distributor Medline quality new jobs Logistics Related and opportunity in announced a $77.5 Comapanies million, 100-job Wyandotte County,” investment in a new said Medline President distribution center in of Global Operations Bonner Springs, where the company is also Bill Abington. The company employs more bringing 141 team members as it moves from than 27,000 worldwide, with a fleet of more a smaller facility in Kansas City, Missouri. than 1,200 trucks and business in more than The Kansas City Areas Development Council 125 countries. reports that 5.9% of the KC region’s workforce “Kansas is the perfect place to put down — some 63,983 workers — are employed in roots that reach the world, and we’re so excited the transportation and warehouse industry, to see Medline ready to do just that while higher than the 4.7% employed in the sector putting more Kansans to work,” Lieutenant nationally. Governor and Commerce Secretary David The Medline expansion at Commerce Toland said.

7,000

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A E R O S P A C E

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D E F E N S E

Air Capital by S AVA N N A H K I N G

Kansas’ legacy of innovation and collaboration elevates the state’s aerospace sector.

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Photo: Gett y Images

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ore than 450 aviation companies call Kansas home and benefit from a pro-business climate, low operating costs, access to innovative resources, a highly skilled workforce and robust transportation infrastructure. More than a century since the first plane was built in Kansas, the state’s most iconic industry is taking off. One of the five great aerospace clusters in the world, Kansas leads in aircraft design and manufacturing and has more than 34,000 people are employed in the sector across the state. Kansas landed several significant investments and expansions from aerospace companies this year thanks to the state’s robust higher education network and specialized workforce. Spirit AeroSystems opened its National Defense Prototype Center (NDPC) in October.

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

The NDPC is a joint project between Kansas’ largest aerospace company and Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR). The new research center will significantly expand the company’s capabilities and production efficiencies in the defense and space market. The research center follows Kansas earning a designation as one of the 11 Defense Manufacturing Communities by the Department of Defense (DoD). The Defense Community Support Program encourages longterm community investments to strengthen national security innovation and expand the capabilities of the defense manufacturing industrial ecosystem. “NIAR has been a tremendous partner in the development of the National Defense Prototype Center and enabling Wichita as a center for defense growth,” said Duane Hawkins, Spirit AeroSystems executive vice


president, Defense and Space. “The NDPC provides a secure space for high-temperature materials testing, as well as development, prototyping and industrialization capabilities to support Spirit’s growth strategy targeting $1 billion of defense revenue by the mid-2020s.” The NDPC encompasses more than 125,000 square feet of manufacturing and lab space with processing and characterization capabilities, including high-temperature testing, furnaces for fabricating and processing materials, multi-method non-destructive inspection, robotic automated fiber placement technology and a large autoclave. The center is the first of its kind, offering the ability to focus on high-temperature materials like hypersonic missiles that can withstand 2,500-5,000 degrees (Fahrenheit) temperatures. The NDPC promises to spur the development of new hightemperature materials and ultra-competitive composites. “The more knowledge that can be generated and disseminated about high-temperature materials, the more these materials can be used, optimized, and designed for specific objectives,” said John Tomblin, Wichita State’s

senior vice president for Industry & Defense Programs and NIAR executive director. “This leads to reliable and safe products that enable the industry to go further, push faster, and break through current design limitations. Not only is this a first for the state of Kansas, but for the nation in terms of testing capacity at these temperatures.” Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus recently ordered 10 Cessna Skyhawk piston aircraft from Wichita-based Textron Aviation, doubling the university’s fleet of Skyhawk aircraft. The Cessna Skyhawk is the aircraft of choice for pilot training and is the most popular singleengine aircraft in history. Textron Aviation is the state’s second-largest employer, with 9,500 employees in Wichita. Throughout many years, Textron Aviation has established a long-term relationship with the K-State Aerospace and Technology Campus, located in Salina, Kansas. In 2019, the school took delivery of five new Skyhawks to continue to modernize its fleet. K-State was also one of the first universities to participate in Textron Aviation’s Top Hawk program,

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National Security Crossroads Multi-state initiative builds on Heartland’s military, high-tech ecosystem.

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overnor Laura Kelly and Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the launch of the National Security Crossroads, a bipartisan, multi-state initiative to raise awareness of and improve national security missions in the Heartland region. “By leveraging our strategic location, strong military community, and existing cybersecurity partnerships, this initiative will make Kansas and Missouri integral to our national security for years to come,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I look forward to the bipartisan spirit of collaboration fostered by the National Security Crossroads initiative, which will not only improve security, but will also strengthen our growing economy by developing a more agile workforce and ensuring safer communities.” The National Security Crossroads represents a regional branding effort to bring awareness in all levels of government, as well as around the country, of the expanding base of security-related operations in the area. As the “heartland” of the United States, with a convenient location to all areas of the country, the region is poised for a strategic advantage in security and mission critical operations. Seven major military bases are housed within the Crossroads area, covering the Army, Navy and Air Force branches. The region also includes 11 national security installations, focusing on geospatialintelligence, net-centric solutions, nonnuclear component manufacturing, combined arms preparations, strategic attack deterrents, bio-

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threat prevention, along with other critical technology and infrastructure concentrations. The Crossroads region stretches from Wichita and Manhattan, Kansas, to the bi-state St. Louis area. With the development of the National Security Crossroads, the region continues to represent a growing base of operations for a variety of installations, including military, cybersecurity, and public-private partnerships. The program facilitates workforce and talent growth and resiliency, as well as collaboration between installations that enable Crossroads’ members to be agile and resilient. The effort also seeks to educate state and federal legislators, as well as others in the region, on the value of the Crossroads and its associated missions. The National Security Crossroads was a concept developed at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) to facilitate regional cooperation, collaboration, and other initiatives such as workforce development. The KCNSC is managed and operated by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies (FM&T), LLC. “The National Security Crossroads is a means for federal agencies to draw in potential partners and suppliers who can strengthen national security and velocity through an affiliated network,” Eric Wollerman, Honeywell FM&T President, said. “The Crossroads enables a smart network of partners to leverage contacts and information effectively throughout the region.”

which provides selected schools with the opportunity to fly a custom branded Skyhawk for flight training and promotional activities. Deliveries of the 10 new aircraft equipped with the leading Garmin G1000 NXi avionics system are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022. “The addition of these aircraft is a major step toward our vision to meet industry demands by providing students experience from a primary trainer all the way to a business-class airplane,” said Alysia Starkey, CEO and dean of K-State Salina. COLLINS AEROSPACE EXPANDS IN LENEXA Collins Aerospace officially opened its new Interiors facility in Lenexa in November. The 279,000-sq.-ft. facility is the U.S. center of excellence for Collins’ Interior Products portfolio — supporting galley inserts, oxygen systems and lighting product lines. Collins has long had a presence in Lenexa, near Kansas City, operating out of another location since the 1960s. The new stateof-the-art building more than doubles the square footage of the previous facility with room for future expansion. The new facility has a focus on engineering, new product development, unique manufacturing processes and a robust maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service area to strengthen the growth of Collins’ Interior Products portfolio and aftermarket service and support organization. “This new facility is an investment in Collins, our customers and the Lenexa community we’ve called home for more than half a century,” said Brad Haselhorst, vice president and general manager of Interior Products at Collins Aerospace. “We’ve been fortunate to be able


to tap into the talented and diverse workforce in the Lenexa and greater Kansas City area and look forward to the continued growth of our workforce here as we strive to better support our customers.” The new Lenexa site also includes office space, an expanded laboratory space, a large manufacturing floor and loading docks for more efficient distribution. “Our state’s place as the nation’s leader in the aviation industry and our top-tier workforce make Lenexa the perfect location to build a brand new, state-of-the-art facility,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “This announcement and the 60 jobs that it will create are great news for Lenexa and our state. I look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Collins Aerospace to create more high-paying jobs in Kansas and strengthen our growing economy.” MID-CONTINENT AVIATION DOUBLES WORKFORCE IN WICHITA In October, Mid-Continent Aviation Services announced plans to double its workforce and expand its footprint with a new hangar at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. Mid-

Continent Aviation Services (MCAS) focuses on aircraft maintenance and support, including business jet, turboprop, piston and rotorcraft

Being located in the Air Capital of the World, the deeprooted manufacturing skillsets of our local workforce have driven our past success — and we look forward to the next generation of growth for our team. — Kelly Lousch, Director of MCAS

products, featuring the Hawker 4000, Hawker 800 series and Beechcraft Premier models. MCAS also specializes in stocking and locating hard-to-find legacy aircraft part inventory and part solutions. MCAS

is an affiliate of ICM, Inc. in Colwich, Kansas. As part of the planned growth, the company will create 23 new jobs, growing their team to over 40. “As a world-class MRO we are excited to expand our footprint and capabilities for our customers at Eisenhower National Airport. Being located in the Air Capital of the World, the deep-rooted manufacturing skillsets of our local workforce have driven our past success — and we look forward to the next generation of growth for our team,” Kelly Lousch, Director of MCAS, said. Company plans include the construction of a new 31,500-sq.ft. hangar to replace an existing 15,000-sq.-ft. hangar. The new hangar space will accommodate plans for future work and includes state-of-theart infrastructure. It is projected the new hangar will be operational in early 2022. Total investment for the project exceeds $5.7 million. “Wichita is home to one of five great aerospace clusters in the world. It was exciting to announce job growth from one of our important local companies on a national scale at NBAA today, and communicate how the Wichita region is the best place for aviation business,” Sedgwick County Chairman Pete Meitzner said.

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A N I M A L

H E A L T H

Love To the Little Ones Hill’s brings heart to the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

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Kansas leads the world in animal health businesses. Photo: Gett y Images

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by G A R Y D A U G H T E R S

hether Yorkies, Papillons, French bulldogs or Pomeranians, America has fallen in love with small dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, ownership of small dogs, those that weigh less than 20 pounds, has surged since the start of the new century, even as numbers of large and medium-sized dogs actually declined in American households. In June 2021, Topeka-based Hill’s Pet Nutrition cut the ribbon on Small Paws — a $30-million, 25,000-sq.-ft. nutrition innovation center focused on the needs of small canines. “All around the world, there’s a steady increase in the popularity of small dogs,” said Dave Baloga, vice president. “The Small Paws Innovation Center will allow us to better understand their needs and discover new ways to help them lead happy, healthy lives.” The opening of Small Paws makes Hill’s the only pet food company in the U.S. with an innovation center specially designed for small and mini-sized dogs. The company intends to utilize the facility not only to study canine nutrition but also behaviors, genetics, genomics, and microbiomics to support food development. The Small Paws center is to eventually house up 80 small dogs that will have the benefit of specially formulated nutrition developed to their unique needs. An associated

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

Engagement Center will host seminars, continuing education programs and other activities for thousands of veterinary students and professionals each year. “We are always investing in technology and development to serve the nutritional needs of pets as well as learning from veterinarians, customers and caregivers through their experiences,” said Hill’s President Jesper Nordengaard. “This is how we fulfill our mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets and live our goal of transforming lives.” DINNER TIME YET? Hill’s Science Diet is the country’s No. 1 vet-recommended line of pet food products for both dogs and cats. Founded in Kansas in 1907, the company employs about 750 people with revenue of $2.2 billion. It operates food manufacturing plants in Topeka and Emporia, as well as Bowling Green, Kentucky and Richmond, Indiana. Over the summer of 2021, Hill’s broke ground on what’s to become its fifth pet food factory at Tonganoxie Business Park in Tonganoxie, just west of Kansas City and 40 miles from the pet food giant’s Topeka headquarters. The investment in the 300,000-sq.-ft. facility, first announced as $250 million, has since been expanded to


$325 million, which makes it the largest-ever single economic development project in Leavenworth County. The new facility in Tonganoxie is to employ about 80 people by 2025 and is scheduled to launch production in 2023. “Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s decision to invest in Kansas and bring 80 new jobs to Tonganoxie is further proof that Kansas’ Animal Health Corridor can out-compete any region in the world for these industry investments and jobs,” said Governor Laura Kelly when the project was announced in June. “With our central location, talented workforce and reputation as a global leader in animal health and science, our partnership with Hill’s is a no-brainer.” Hill’s said it chose the 80-acre site for its premier location, access to a diverse pool of workers and strong support from the local community. “This looks like a fantastic smart-growth project for our community,” said David Frese, mayor of Tonganoxie. “It checks a bunch of the right boxes. A Kansas company; an environmentally up-to-date facility; a manageable influx of new neighbors; great jobs that pay well; high-tech opportunities for our young people; the possibility of attracting more business to Tonganoxie; and a boon to the city’s economy.” Hill’s has designed the plant to by LEED certified, the environmentally friendly designation awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. As with all of its manufacturing facilities, Hill‘s also plans to certify the Tonganoxie factory under the Total Resource Use and Efficiency (TRUE®) program for zero waste. THE BIGGEST JUST KEEPS GETTING BIGGER Hill’s is but one of the largest players in the world’s most prolific concentration of animal health concerns. The Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, which straddles a 250-mile stretch of Interstate 70 from roughly Manhattan, Kansas, to Columbia, Missouri, is home to more than 300 animal health-related companies, which also Simmons Pet Food, Hyper Pet, Sparhawk Laboratories, Biomin, Dechra, Kansas City Treats and Merck Animal Health. New Jersey-based Merck recently announced investments of $100 million in its DeSoto manufacturing facility to expand the production vaccines for swine, cattle and horses with key technologies in research and development, production and quality control operations. The site houses largescale fermentation and cell culture, blending and filling operations and packaging, along with monoclonal antibody manufacturing. “We are excited about the opportunity to bring capital improvements, expansion in our manufacturing capacity and capabilities and advanced technology to our DeSoto facility, thereby strengthening our footprint in Kansas,” said Pamela Stoops, executive director of the company’s DeSoto Operations. K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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B I O S C I E N C E

Serving The World

Life sciences investments in Kansas serve global animal and human health needs.

W The new Thermo Fisher Scientific facility in Lenexa, Kansas, enabled production to scale from 50,000 viral transport media tubes to more than 8 million per week. Photos courtesy of Thermo Fisher

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hen my colleague Ron Starner documented the “electric atmosphere” of McPherson, Kansas, in Site Selection magazine in November 2017, among the projects lighting up the grid was a $120 million expansion by Pfizer that would create 150 new manufacturing jobs at a former Hospira plant. Turns out that was the under. After being chosen in August 2020 to manufacture Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir to fight COVID-19, the plant then was conscripted in early 2021 to use its fill-finish line to produce vials for Pfizer to manufacture more of its COVID-19 vaccines as the company looked to roughly double the weekly number of vaccines it was manufacturing. It’s one of around a dozen major life sciences-related projects that have landed in Kansas over the past few years. Merck Animal Health’s $100 million investment in a livestock vaccine production facility in the Johnson County municipality of DeSoto was another. Meanwhile, boutique contract research organization Attentive Science is investing $6 million and creating more than 40 jobs

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

by A D A M B R U N S

at another Johnson County site in Stilwell. Convey Health Solutions, Pharmaceutical Research Associates and Thermo-Fisher Scientific are all investing in Lenexa. Contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) TriRx Pharmaceutical Services is investing $70 million and creating 250 jobs in Shawnee and prescription management software firm Rx Savings is growing in Overland Park — all communities that are also in Johnson County, a suburb of Kansas City. The TriRX project comes on the heels of the company’s August 2021 acquisition of Elanco Animal Health’s facility as the two companies entered into a long-term supply agreement for the site, which employs around 300 staff. “TriRx will transition the Elanco Center of Manufacturing Excellence to a Global Center of Excellence serving the pharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing market,” said Timothy C. Tyson, chairman & CEO of TriRx. “TriRx has already received significant third-party interest in the Shawnee facility as a reliable source of contract manufacturing supply. We expect to invest in the facility and to expand the workforce as we bring in new business as part of our strategic plan. There are world-class people and capabilities at this site.” Nine days later, Tyson joined Kansas Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland, federal and state legislators, local elected officials and leaders from The University of Kansas, Kansas State University, and key customers at a ribboncutting ceremony. “Investment in the Shawnee facility and the highly skilled people critical to its operation are key components of our strategic plan,” Tyson added. “We see much opportunity ahead as TriRx continues to strengthen its position as a leading contract development and manufacturing organization active in both the


Life Sciences Projects in Kansas Since 2018 Company

County

City

Rx Savings Solutions Pfizer Inc. Thermo Fisher Scientific Trirx Pharmaceutical Services Medline Industries Plastikon Healthcare Pharmaceutical Research Associates Plastikon Healthcare Attentive Science LLC Convey Health Solutions Merck Animal Health

Johnson McPherson Johnson Johnson Wyandotte Douglas Johnson Douglas Johnson Johnson Johnson

Overland Park McPherson Lenexa Shawnee Bonner Springs Lawrence Lenexa Lawrence Stilwell Lenexa De Soto

Inv. (US$M)

Jobs

10.2 156 40 70 77 5.1 22.5 3.2 6 NA 100

450 325 300 250 100 90 87 50 43 40 10

Source: Conway Projects Database

human and animal health markets.” Manufacturing capabilities at the Shawnee site include parenterals, topicals, non-sterile liquids, solid oral dose, and soft chews. The facility also features a pilot plant, quality control laboratories, veterinary technical services, and a large warehousing and distribution facility. “We are looking forward to increasing the capabilities and efficiencies of this site’s operations,” Tyson said. “The journey ahead will bring prosperity to TriRx, TriRx team members and stakeholders, and the broader Shawnee community. This site will represent a highly valued addition to the TriRx capabilities to continue to serve the rapidly expanding global biopharmaceutical market.” CAMPUS CONTRIBUTIONS When it comes to life sciences, the two major land-grant institutions in Kansas more than pull their weight. The University of Kansas Medical Center is renowned for its service and research. But the university’s life sciences assets don’t stop there. They include KU Innovation Park, known as the Bioscience & Technology Business Center until the site’s phase III construction triggered a name change in spring 2021. The 2020 edition of this guide noted the park, on KU’s West Campus, hosted 50 companies, more than 400 high-wage jobs and more than $22 million in payroll. In 2021 those figures have jumped to 61 companies, 485 employees and $29.2 million in payroll. The U.S. Economic Development Administration in October 2021 announced that the park had been awarded $1.5 million in grant assistance, to be matched by $1.5 million in private-sector funds, under the EDA’s Venture Challenge program. KU Innovation Park was one of 50 organizations in 26 states

to receive awards under the U.S. Commerce Department’s “Build to Scale” program, which aims to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital. Kansas State University in Manhattan is known for its Biosecurity Research Institute, which plays a key role in the Economic Prosperity Plan the university launched in early December 2021. The plan aims to create 3,000 new jobs and foster $3 billion in investments in the state over the next decade by leveraging K-State’s strengths in food and agriculture systems innovation; digital agriculture and advanced analytics; biosecurity and biodefense; and extension and outreach. One plank of the plan calls for a biotechnology development module within the university’s Biosecurity Research Institute that will allow corporate partners to develop diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive countermeasures for a broad range of emerging zoonotic diseases while addressing scalable production. “This secure space also will enable emergency rapid manufacturing to protect the nation’s animal and food supply during a crisis,” said the university. The College of Veterinary Medicine will also focus significant efforts on keeping graduates in Kansas, in a region that’s known as the animal health corridor for a reason. “In addition to making it easier for companies to partner with K-State researchers, we are increasing our efforts to keep our graduates in the state,” said Bonnie Rush, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Kansas veterinarians contribute about a half a billion dollars to the economic development of the state, so the more veterinarians we can keep in the state, the stronger the economic prosperity of producers.” K A N SAS: TO T H E S TA RS

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A G R I C U L T U R E

Where the Grass Is

Greener Kansas is an agricultural powerhouse.

W

by G A R Y D A U G H T E R S

hen Cargill, Inc., decided it needed a new headquarters for its Protein business, the Minnesotabased agricultural colossus discovered that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the hill. After a search that included potential locations in Colorado and Texas, the nation’s largest privately-held company concluded that the best place of all was Wichita, Kansas, the unit’s home of 38 years. “At the end of the day we decided Wichita was right for us,” said Brian Sikes, head of the company’s global protein and salt business. “We didn’t choose Wichita because we thought we could survive, we chose Wichita because we thought we could thrive.” The $70 million investment yielded a distinctive, four-story facility in the heart of Wichita’s Old Town that’s surrounded by restaurants, shops and other businesses. It’s geared toward recruiting and retaining top talent. “We want to make Wichita the ‘Silicon Valley of Protein,’ bringing together the best minds, innovation and technology in the

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industry,” says Jon Nash, Cargill Protein’s North America president. Built to accommodate nearly 1,000 employees, the new headquarters is close to the Cargill Innovation Center, opened in 2011 through an investment of $15 million. Also nearby is Cargill Protein’s $90 million state-of-the-art biodiesel plant, which opened in 2019 and is capable of producing some 60 million gallons of biofuel a year. BEEF AND SORGHUM AND WHEAT, OH MY! As a protein producer, Kansas boasts some 27,000 cattle farms and ranches, accounting for over 11% of all cattle and calves sold in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Its 6.5 million cattle place it third in the nation. Beef cattle ranching and farming, including feedlots and dual-purpose ranching and farming sector is the top contributor in output to the Kansas economy, with approximately $8.8 billion in total output. The sector supports more than 37,000 jobs, also tops in the state.


In all, 72 agriculture and agriculturerelated sectors directly contribute $47.3 billion in output and 135,786 jobs to the Kansas economy. Including indirect and induced effects, agriculture and agriculture-related sectors have a total impact of $67 billion in output, 238,543 jobs and 12% of the total Gross Regional Product, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Kansas is widely known as the nation’s number one producer of wheat. The state’s 2019 wheat harvest produced 338 million bushels, 18% of the U.S. total. Lesser publicized is the fact that, as a producer of sorghum, Kansas blows away all comers, accounting for a whopping 60% of the national harvest. Kansas State University’s Center for Sorghum Improvement has a mission of enhancing sorghum yield and value and a goal of increasing worldwide demand to 1.25 billion bushels per year. With some 46 million acres under production — third most in the country — Kansas also ranks in nation’s top ten for annual production of hay (6.3 million tons), sunflower (54 million lbs.), canola (20.7

million lbs.), corn for grain (800 million bushels), alfalfa (2.5 million tons), soybeans (186 million bushels) and on-farm grain storage capacity (380 million bushels). A VERY BIG DEAL The ag-related investment by Californiabased Hilmar Cheese represented Kansas’s biggest economic development project of 2021. Hilmar, on May 5, announced its decision to build a state-of-the art cheese and whey protein production facility in Dodge City. The $460 million plant is expected to create 247 jobs. In addition to Hilmar’s direct investment, the project is expected to create additional capital investment of $550 million and 750 new jobs within a 50-mile radius of Dodge City by the end of 2023. The plant is to be fully operational in 2024. “It’s great to see another major food manufacturer like Hilmar choose to put their trust in our state and Dodge City for their newest facility,” said Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. “Our first-class workforce and central location make Kansas one of the best places in the nation to do business.”

Photo: Gett y Images

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T O U R I S M

Stars Closer Home To the

and

to

W

Kansas Tourism builds momentum for one of the state’s most vital sectors.

Cyclists enjoy Kansas’ unique trails and locations.

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by S AVA N N A H K I N G

ith an understanding of the industry’s economic power — both as a business recruitment tool and a vital element of state and community pride — Kansas legislators have made several recent moves to bolster the state’s vital tourism sector even as the effects of the pandemic continue to challenge the industry. Before the pandemic in 2019, tourism directly supported more than 66,000 jobs and brought in $7.3 billion to the state and was the 9th largest employer in the state. In 2020, while the pandemic reduced travel around the globe, Kansas Tourism developed new marketing strategies that inspire exploration of Kansas for residents and visitors. These efforts include the “To The Stars” tagline that builds on the Kansas motto Ad Astra Per Aspera. Kansas Tourism also unveiled a new website making it easier for travelers to plan an unforgettable Kansas vacation. Earlier this year, Governor Laura Kelly announced the reorganization of the Kansas Tourism Division under the Kansas Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce features several tools designed to increase tourism into the state, including the Kansas Athletic Commission and the STAR Bonds program.

KANSAS: TO THE STARS

“Moving the Tourism division into the Department of Commerce sends a clear message to our industry partners and prospective companies that my administration will use every tool at our disposal to spur new economic growth,” Governor Kelly said. “This realignment will support our businesses, our tourism industry, and will play a significant role in our COVID-19 recovery efforts.” Governor Kelly issued an Executive Reorganization Order in response to input from businesses, destination marketing organizations and other key industry partners, including the Travel Industry Association of Kansas (TIAK), the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association (KRHA), and the Kansas Economic Development Alliance (KEDA), which all agreed it is best to consolidate Kansas’ tourism efforts and economic development initiatives. “Tourism is ultimately about economic development, so it makes perfect sense to have tourism housed within the state’s economic development agency,” Lt. Governor/Commerce Secretary Toland said. “I’m excited to welcome the Kansas Tourism team to the Department of Commerce as we work to achieve Governor Kelly’s vision for faster growth and stronger local economies across the state.”


MOMENTUM GROWS WITH $3.5-MILLION GRANT In November, Gov. Kelly announced the state received $3.5 million in grant funding to accelerate travel, tourism and outdoor recreation in the state. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration as part of the $750 million American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation program, which provides $510 million in State Tourism grants and $240 million in Competitive Tourism grants that will be awarded to advance the economic recovery and resiliency of communities where the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. “Kansas is ripe with opportunity to grow our tourism industry as we emerge from this pandemic,” Kansas Tourism Director Bridgette Jobe said. “Infusing these additional dollars into our statewide marketing and development strategies will bring economic benefits for many years in the future.” Kansas will use these funds to inject immediate momentum into the Kansas tourism industry. The $3.5 million will be invested in four strategic areas:

Kansas is ripe with opportunity to grow our tourism industry as we emerge from this pandemic. — Bridgette Jobe, Kansas Tourism Director

• $1.5 million for sub-grants to local communities or businesses in the development of new tourism attractions or to enhance existing attractions in the state; • $1.25 million for a strong statewide marketing campaign to increase out-ofstate visitation; • $500,000 for regional video and photography-asset gathering to support state and local marketing efforts; • $250,000 for Kansas State Parks to develop glamping — “glamourous camping” — sites at various State Park locations. “Of the many revelations we’ve realized as a result of this pandemic, none may be more clear to us than the very real value of Kansas’ state parks,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Secretary Brad Loveless. “This $250,000 investment comes at a perfect time to improve facilities, increase capacity, and to welcome the many who have yet to camp out-of-doors and need a comfortable introduction.”

TOP: Kansas City T-Bones mascot at the CommunityAmerica Ballpark CENTER LEFT: Rolling Hills Zoo CENTER RIGHT: Hotel sign in Central Prairie BOTTOM: Brews on the Bricks festival in downtown Hays All photos courtesy of Kansas Tourism

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C O M M U N I T Y

D E V E L O P M E N T

Home No Place Like

Community development programs and initiatives improve the quality of life across the state’s communities.

by S AVA N N A H K I N G

Trolly in Atchison, Kansas Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

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F

rom downtown and destination development to infrastructure and community investment programs, Kansas is actively working with its small and rural communities to improve the lives of Kansans and encourage economic prosperity. While the effects of the pandemic continue to linger in communities across the globe, small businesses and communities in Kansas have access to several programs that aim to bolster the state’s most charming and vibrant assets. Over the summer, Governor Laura Kelly announced the third round of Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Response Supplement (CDBG-CV) awards, distributing nearly $4 million to 25 Kansas communities to promote business retention for small businesses affected by

the pandemic. CDBG-CV is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The two previous grant rounds in this category awarded cities and counties with projects pertaining to economic development and meal programs. “Kansas continues to experience record economic success, bringing in jobs and business investment at historic levels,” Governor Kelly said. “These grant funds will support that momentum by ensuring small Kansas businesses can maintain their workforce. We’ll continue to focus strategic investments that will create a stronger, more resilient economy to help Kansas businesses and families succeed.” MAIN STREET REBOOT Originally launched in 1985, Kansas Main Street has


helped dozens of mostly rural communities work toward ensuring the viability of their downtown districts. During the first 27 years of the Kansas Main Street program, more than $600 million in redevelopment was invested in designated Main Street communities statewide. During that same time, nearly 4,000 small businesses were started, creating over 8,600 new jobs. The program was closed by the Brownback administration in 2012 and brought back in late 2019 under the directive of Gov. Kelly and former Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers’ Office of Rural Prosperity. Kansas Main Street is a self-help technical assistance program administered by the Community Development Division at the Kansas Department of Commerce. The program targets preservation and revitalization of downtown districts through the development of a comprehensive strategy based on the four points of Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring. The Kansas Main Street program is affiliated with the National Main Street Center. While there are no federal funds provided directly to Main Street communities, designated cities are eligible for training and technical assistance designed to help them become self-sufficient in downtown revitalization. Earlier this year, three communities were selected into the Kansas Main Street Program — Atchison, Baldwin City, and Junction City — bringing the total number of designated Main Street communities in Kansas to 28. These three communities are the first new additions to the state’s Main Street program since its reintroduction in Kansas in 2019. “Quality of life is key to the Kelly Administration’s economic development

efforts, and we know vibrant downtowns are a key indicator of community’s overall health,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “Since Governor Kelly brought the state Main Street program back, Kansas communities once again have the resources and tools they need to breathe new life into their communities and historic commercial districts.” LIFELINE FOR HISTORIC BUILDINGS In November, Kansas launched a new grant program to quickly help revitalize underutilized, vacant and dilapidated downtown buildings in rural Kansas communities. The Historic Economic Asset Lifeline (HEAL) grant program is designed to bring downtown buildings back into productive use as spaces for new or expanding businesses; housing; arts and culture; civic engagement; childcare; or entrepreneurship. The matching grants will help address emergency needs for neglected buildings and assist building owners with eligible expenses for the revitalization of historic properties. Projects submitted must show potential as economic drivers in the community. “We have a shortage of ready to occupy buildings across the state, but also an abundance of historic buildings with good bones that make them great candidates for rehabilitation,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce David Toland said. “The HEAL program provides an immediate opportunity to close financial gaps in restoring these properties and making downtown districts throughout our state more economically vibrant, while also creating new jobs and services for Kansans.”

Downtown Salina Photo courtesy Kansas Tourism

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Q U A L I T Y

O F

L I F E

Eisenhower State Park

5 REASONS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH KANSAS Highway 160, near Elk City Cimarron National Grassland

by R O N S TA R N E R

Cedar Bluff State Park Photos courtesy of Kansas Tourism

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

Wichita Skyline


R

emember that feeling when you first fell in love? The sky probably seemed bluer, the air cleaner, the sun brighter and the world happier. Guess where else you can experience that feeling? In the great state of Kansas. Statistically, due to its location and size, Kansas boasts bluer and brighter skies, and its residents are happier for a variety of reasons. Let’s consider just five of them: Kansas is incredibly affordable. Most people live on a budget because they have to. In Kansas, your budget stretches further than all but one state. That’s because the cost of living in Kansas is 11% below the national average. From gas and groceries to auto insurance and ad valorem taxes, virtually everything costs less in Kansas. Consider this: the average cost of living in the U.S. is 100. In Dodge City, Kansas City, Salina, Pittsburg, Wichita and Manhattan, the highest COL is just 93.7. Statewide, it is 89.0. Kansas boasts family-friendly communities. WalletHub in 2019 named Leawood the Best Small City to Live in America. McPherson, Hays and Andover all made the 50 Best Places to Live in America in USA Today in 2019; and Livability.com named both Manhattan and Lawrence to its Top 50 Best Places to Live in 2019. For young people, it’s even better. Olathe was named No. 1 for where millennials are buying homes, and Lawrence was ranked No. 8 on the list of Best Cities for Recent College Grads.

You get a huge chunk of your life back in Kansas. People who commute to work will find that there’s no place like driving to a job in Kansas. The average daily commute time in the Sunflower State is just 19 minutes, which ranks sixth lowest in the country. Compare that to Texas, where workers spend an average of 29 minutes a day in their cars. In North Carolina, they spend 25 minutes commuting. Moreover, Kansas consistently ranks in the top 10 for having the best roads in America. If you’re seeking youth and diversity, you’ve found a good home in Kansas. Kansas is the melting pot of the American Heartland, and it has the numbers to prove it. The state’s average age is just 37, and the three most common languages spoken here are English, Spanish and Vietnamese. In Garden City’s high school, 25 different languages are spoken. The Wichita school district has children from 97 countries, and more than 63 different languages are spoken in homes of students in the Kansas City school district. Want to enjoy the great outdoors? Step outside in Kansas. Whether canoeing or kayaking, biking or swimming, or just walking the trails, the outdoor enthusiast will find that getting lost in the beauty of Kansas is a treat in itself. Fishing, hunting, camping and hiking are all popular pastimes in Kansas, and a plethora of state parks and national parks make all of those things easy to do and enjoy.

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P H O T O

G A L L E R Y

Kansas Captured Children playing at Mushroom Rock State Park Photos courtesy of Kansas Tourism

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1 1. Old Cow Town, Wichita 2. Museum at Prairiefire 3. Wizard of Oz Museum 4. Strataca Salt Mine Museum, Hutchinson 5. Rolling Hills Zoo

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS

3


2

5

4

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1

2

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS


4

5

1. Cyclist at Wilson State Park 2. Fishing at sunset 3. Old Cow Town, Wichita 4. Strataca Salt Mine Museum, Hutchinson 5. Wilson State Park, Russell County

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1

1. Cowboys and horses 2. Hazel Hill Caramel Apples 3. Rolling Hills Zoo

2

3

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KANSAS: TO THE STARS


I N D E X

T O

A D V E R T I S E R S

Advertiser BNSF Railway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.bnsf.com/rail-development City of Liberal Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.chooseliberal.com City of Basehor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.cityofbasehor.org Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . www.DodgeDev.org EDC of Lawrence-Douglas County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.edclawrence.com Emporia Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas www.emporiarda.org Great Bend Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.gbedinc.com Greater Manhattan Economic Partnership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.greatermanhattan.org www.usda.gov/nbaf Go Topeka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.gotopeka.com Junction City-Geary County Economic Development Commission . . www.jcgced.com Kansas City Area Development Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.thinkkc.com www.kc.org Kansas Department of Commerce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.kansascommerce.gov Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.travelks.com Salina Community Economic Development Organization . . . . . . . . www.salinaedo.org Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission / Southeast Kansas Economic Development Coalition . . . . . . . . . . www.sekrpc.org Wyandotte Economic Development Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.wyedc.org

Page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 ...............3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 . . . . . . . . . . . 62-63 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 ...............5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 . . . . . . . . . IFC-1, BC . . . . . . . . . . . 80-IBC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

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Quality of Life

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pages 72-74

Community Development

3min
pages 70-71

Agriculture

3min
pages 66-67

Animal Health

4min
pages 60-61

Tourism

4min
pages 68-69

Biosciences

5min
pages 62-65

Aerospace and Defense

8min
pages 56-59

Food Processing

4min
pages 50-51

Logistics and Distribution

4min
pages 52-55

Corporate and Professional Services

3min
pages 48-49

Made in Kansas

2min
pages 44-45

Governor Interview

9min
pages 18-21

Interview with DOC Leadership

8min
pages 22-25

Infrastructure

4min
pages 30-33

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

5min
pages 34-37

Energy and Utilities

6min
pages 26-29

Advanced Manufacturing

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pages 46-47

Higher Education

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pages 38-43
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