Kansas Job Creation, Investment On Record Pace
GM Fairfax Assembly Plant
Doors are installed on Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse vehicles at the General Motors Fairfax Kansas Plant Tuesday, April 20, 2010 in Fairfax, Kansas. Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors
During a year in which most states were chalking up lost jobs, Kansas was breaking records with new capital investment, job creation and retention, and some impressive national accolades.
The Kansas Department of Commerce facilitated 110 successful relocations or expansions, creating and retaining nearly 19,500 jobs – 6,806 more than 2009 – and a whopping $1.3 billion in capital investment.
“It was the best year we’ve ever had for business recruitment,” says Barbara Hake, business recruitment manager for Commerce. “We had some major companies with large projects choose to locate to Kansas.”
Cerner Brings 4,500 Jobs
Leading the pack was Cerner Corp., a global supplier of technology solutions that help hospitals and other health-care organization manage and integrate electronic medical records, computer physician order entry and financial information. The company is investing $170 million in a headquarters facility in Kansas City, Kan., creating 4,500 jobs.
J.P. Morgan is moving its retirement plan services headquarters to Overland Park in a $30 million, 650-job investment, while Tindall Corp. will build a $66 million facility in Newton to manufacture precast concrete wind towers, bringing 400 jobs to the region.
GM Invests in Kansas
"General Motors will invest new capital in its Kansas City, Kan., plant to build its next-generation Chevrolet Malibu, which will add a third shift to this plant,” Hake says of the automaker's $136 million investment. “J.P. Morgan was another great win for us with the relocation of their headquarters to Kansas.”
Based on its highly skilled workforce, the nucleus of research universities and its central location, the Kansas Department of Commerce team has targeted four industry sectors: advanced manufacturing, distribution, alternative energy and bioscience.
Billed as the aviation capital of the world, Kansas produces more than 40 percent of the world’s general aviation aircraft. The state confirmed its reputation in December 2010 by completing an agreement to keep Hawker Beechcraft and 4,000 jobs in Wichita.
Alternative energy is growing with rural biofuels projects, a value-added target that builds upon the state’s extensive agribusiness sector. In addition, the state is ranked No. 2 nationally for wind energy potential.
Distribution makes sense for the state, Hake maintains, as Kansas is located in the center of the continental United States and boasts the nation’s top-ranked transportation system. New rail intermodal facilities being built in Kansas will spur more companies considering the state for their next distribution operation.
On the retention front, the Sugar Creek Packing Co. will create 150 new jobs in Frontenac, while retaining 145 jobs.
Animal Science Corridor Draws Investment
Kansas is one of the nation’s fastest-growing bioscience hubs and is located in the middle of the Global Animal Health Corridor, a stretch of real estate that runs through the Kansas City metropolitan area and comprises more than 40 percent of the world’s animal science assets.
In January 2011, Ceva Santé Animale, a global leader in the animal health industry, selected Lenexa to maintain and expand its North American corporate location, building upon a $15 million expansion that created 80 new jobs in 2010. The value of being located within the Animal Health Corridor was key to the company’s decision to stay in the region and add 20 new corporate level positions.
“Ceva’s decision to maintain and expand its Lenexa campus is a testament to the support we’ve received from the Animal Health Corridor,” says Dr. Arnaud Bourgeois, vice president of Ceva Santé Animale. “Thanks to Animal Health Corridor’s extended networking opportunities, resources in the state of Kansas and support from officials in Lenexa, we will continue to invest in breakthrough technologies that support our future growth.”
Kansas Creates Business Friendly Environment
To attract new business, a state’s leadership has to think like a business, and that is exactly what the Kansas Legislature has been doing in recent years.
Key among reasons for the state’s economic success is a series of pro-business legislation passed by Kansas lawmakers, starting with the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 that created the Kansas Bioscience Authority. Kansas will be named the future home of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a $650 million laboratory that will work to research diseases that can affect the public health and food supply.
In 2011, the Legislature also approved “expensing,” which will allow businesses to immediately deduct the entire cost of certain purchases for tax purposes, rather than requiring a set schedule of smaller deductions over multiple years. The law is expected to pump at least $47 million per year back into the Kansas economy.
Legislators also eliminated property tax on new business machinery and equipment, phased out the Kansas franchise tax and reduced unemployment insurance and corporate income tax rates. In 2009, the Legislature approved the Wind and Solar Bond Financing Incentive, making up to $5 million available for eligible wind/solar projects, which proved to be helpful in Siemens Energy’s spring 2009 selection of Hutchinson, Kan., for its first North American wind turbine nacelle production plant.
Another program aimed at job creation is Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK), which allows qualified for-profit new and existing expanding companies to retain 95 percent of the payroll withholding tax of the relocated jobs over a period of five or more years.