Kansas Exports Give State a Global Presence
Even in a sluggish global economy, Kansas has remained an export powerhouse and an attractive locale for foreign direct investment.
The state’s export volume for 2010 was $9.9 billion, surpassing 2009’s total by more than 11 percent. Kansas exports to markets around the world, sending everything from aircraft ($2.1 billion) to industrial machinery ($955.9 million) to meat ($756.2 million) to cereals ($643.2 million) to countries in Europe, Asia, South America and North America.
Wichita was the fastest-growing export market among the top 100 U.S. metropolitan areas, with 22.3 percent growth from 2003 to 2008, according to a July report by the Brookings Institution. Wichita’s explosive growth has been fueled by aviation manufacturers such as Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft, and a host of suppliers.
The World Comes Calling
The state has also attracted more foreign direct investment, with a spate of companies building major facilities in the state. Nearly 53,000 Kansans are employed by foreign-owned companies. In 2009 alone, foreign-owned companies made $367 million in capital investments in the state, creating 1,420 jobs.
In December 2010, Denmark-based Jupiter Group opened a wind turbine component manufacturing facility in Junction City. Siemens Energy, a unit of Germany-based Siemens AG, cut the ribbon on its first U.S.-based nacelle production facility in Hutchinson. Because of Siemens’ investment, Dutch wire and cable manufacturer Draka in November announced it would build an assembly facility in Hutchinson to supply Siemens and other key customers in the region.
In the animal health industry, France-based Ceva SantÃ© Animale in January 2011 recommitted to keeping its North American headquarters in Lenexa. Ceva is increasing production capacity at its existing Lenexa facility with construction of a new 53,000-square-foot, two-story building.
A Breed Apart in Livestock
Osborne Industries was named the 2010 Kansas Governor’s Exporter of the Year. The company is an innovator in solutions for livestock production, including feeders and management systems, and has exported livestock products to 44 countries. Osborne also provides custom plastic molding technology solutions to other industries.
“One of our core values is providing jobs for people in Osborne County, and if we didn’t have an export business, we would not be able to employ as many people,” says Steve Langley, president.
The Kansas Department of Commerce’s Trade Development Division helps Kansas companies increase their export business through a variety of marketing efforts and networking with foreign contacts, says John Watson, trade director. The division targets industries that already have a strong base in the state, including wind energy, aviation, bioscience, agriculture and animal health.
The division maintains offices in Mexico City and Beijing, staffed by local business advisers contracted by the division to introduce foreign prospects to Kansas.
“These two markets are important to us,” Watson says. “Our strategy is to try to do the most good for the most number of Kansas companies, so we have offices where there are significant amounts of business to capture.”
The division also works closely with business consultants in other parts of Asia, India, Latin America and Europe to conduct market research for Kansas companies.
Promoting Kansas globally through the Kansas International Trade Show Assistance Program, or KITSAP, the division will pay some of the direct costs of eligible Kansas companies attending international trade shows in foreign locales.
The division also participates in such shows, including the China Veterinary Medicine Association conference in Beijing last October.
Five Kansas companies in the animal health sector joined the division, as well as Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“They were also promoting educational opportunities for Chinese veterinarians, which is another form of export,” Watson says.
Other trade missions included a visit with wind energy investors in Denmark and Germany; a trip to an international aviation trade show in Farnborough, England; and two joint missions with the states of Colorado and Montana to Russia to promote the animal genetics industry.