Wichita, Kansas Retains Cargill Protein Group Headquarters

Cargill Protein Group announced that its headquarters will remain in Wichita, and will relocate from its current location to a new office building that will be constructed at an as yet to be determined site in the city.


Cargill (photo – cargill.com)

The decision, which is subject to the approval of a City of Wichita economic development agreement with the company, was made after a thorough site selection process that considered numerous options, including several cities in states other than Kansas.

Brian Sikes, Cargill corporate vice president for the company’s protein group, said in a statement that “After an exhaustive review of our options, a collaborative atmosphere evolved whereby Cargill, the City of Wichita and State of Kansas worked together toward creating the type of business environment that will enable the company to meet its customers’ long-term needs by enhancing our ability to attract, retain and develop top talent.”

The company also cited the quality of life, and the minimization of disruption to the business resulting from the relocation, as criteria addressed as Cargill explored its options.

Governor Sam Brownback said in the release that they are pleased that Cargill will continue to call Wichita, Kansas, home for the foreseeable future. “This is an investment in our state, a recognition of the quality of the Wichita workforce and the quality of life that can be found in Kansas,” said Gov. Brownback.

Mayor Jeff Longwell added that “Right from the start, the City of Wichita stepped up to demonstrate its commitment to Cargill and its ongoing success.”

Retaining the Cargill Protein Group headquarters was a critical economic development project for Wichita and Kansas. Wichita-based Cargill Protein Group, which produces meat, poultry and egg products and by-products, generates more than $20 billion in revenue for Minnetonka, MN-based Cargill, Inc., which has 149,000 employees in 70 countries.

For its part, Cargill Protein Group employs approximately 27,000 people and operates approximately 30 processing facilities that produce protein products. This includes more than 800 employees in Wichita and over 4,000 employees in Kansas who work in a variety of the company’s businesses across the state.

The Wichita Metro Chamber, which hosted the Cargill site selection news conference, said in a posting on its website that “The ripple effect of this decision is far reaching and we commend all those leading our economic development efforts at the local and state level for working together to produce the best possible result for Wichita.”

Kansas Responds to Missouri Legislation to End Business Incentives For Relocations Within Kansas City Area

With the clock ticking down on Missouri’s proposal to ban economic development incentives for cross border relocations in the Kansas City region, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has finally responded with a legislative proposal to do the same.

Kansas Statehouse

Kansas Statehouse (photo – Crazy Fred ET/wikimedia)

Back in 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill (SB 635) that aims to ban Missouri economic development incentives for “line jumpers” – businesses that relocate from certain counties in Kansas to certain counties in Missouri without creating any new jobs.

The law only comes into effect provided that the Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development certifies (before Aug 28, 2016) that Kansas has passed similar legislation or issued an executive order with a similar prohibition on incentives for businesses to relocate from such Missouri counties to such Kansas counties.

A Hall Family Foundation study had found that the two states had together handed out $212 million in economic development incentives simply to move jobs both ways across the state line. Kansas spent $140 million under the Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK) program, while Missouri spent $72 million under the Missouri Works program.

Kansas lawmakers, however, have been silent on this issue until now. But Gov. Brownback has now put forward a proposal that would ban Kansas economic development incentives under the PEAK program for companies relocating across the state line from Missouri without creating any net new jobs for the Kansas City region.

The proposal provides exemptions to enable the state to offer incentives for companies that do create net new jobs while moving, and make investments of at least $10 million. The Kansas proposal will still need to be taken up by the State Legislature, and it may also require more changes to Missouri’s law on this issue in order for both sets of laws to function effectively for the region as a whole.

But the reaction in Kansas City is already optimistic. Kansas City Mayor James Sly issued a statement in which he notes that “Moving jobs across state lines isn’t economic development. It’s score keeping, and we can do better than that. I’m glad Gov. Brownback has decided to be more strategic in his economic development policy.”

Mayor Sly adds that “A bi-state group of elected officials and staff have been working for a year and a half to find a way to truly add jobs to the region. Today we’re seeing a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with the Missouri General Assembly and Gov. Nixon to keep the conversation moving.”

Amazon Takes Over Kansas City Area’s Largest Industrial Spec Building in Edgerton, KS

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has announced plans to open a state-of-the-art fulfillment center at Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton, KS.


Amazon (photo – BCRP/flickr)

Supported by a Kansas economic development grant for infrastructure improvements, and assistance from the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp, Amazon will occupy the entire 822,104-square-foot Inland Port XIV facility at Logistics Park Kansas City.

Amazon expects to create approximately 1,000 full-time hourly positions here, plus many managerial and support roles to support customer fulfillment. Employees at this fulfillment center will be picking, packing and shipping large items such as big-screen televisions, sports equipment and kayaks.

This will be Amazon’s second fulfillment center in Kansas, adding to the company’s existing 267,000-square-foot fulfillment center at the Lenexa Logistics Center in Lenexa, KS.

Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s vice president of North American operations, said in a statement that “We’re excited to bring 1,000 great full-time jobs with benefits to the Kansas City region and proud to further invest in the state with this new fulfillment center.”

Governor Sam Brownback said in the release that this is good news for Kansas. “In addition to creating 1,000 jobs, Amazon is investing in our state, workforce and the community,” said Gov. Brownback. “The quality of the Kansas workforce and our central location in the heart of the nation contributed to their decision to locate in Logistics Park Kansas City.”

Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp.’s Greg Martinette likewise noted that “Our residents along with our central location, squarely in the middle of the country, have given us this opportunity to partner with one of America’s best corporations.”

The state has reportedly agreed to spend up to $1.8 million for road improvements south of Inland Port XIV.

Logistics Park Kansas City is a 1,500-acre master-planned distribution and warehouse development anchored by BNSF Railway’s intermodal facility. Inland Port XIV at LPKC was developed by NorthPoint Development as the area’s largest industrial spec building.

Including a new industrial spec building currently under construction, there will be about 4.8 million square feet of new buildings at LPKC. Upon full build-out, LPKC is expected to include 17 million square feet of structures.

Edgerton Mayor Donald Roberts said that the City of Edgerton is pleased that Amazon has chosen a site at Logistics Park Kansas City, and added that “Amazon’s innovative new facility and quality job creation supports and validates the City’s continued efforts of creating global routes with local roots.”

Universities Compete For Economic Development Awards of Excellence at UEDA Summit

The agenda for the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Annual Summit underway in Anchorage, Alaska includes presentations by 18 finalists competing for the UEDA Awards of Excellence across five categories.

UEDA Annual Summit

UEDA Annual Summit (photo – universityeda.org)

Later today, the following four finalists in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category will be making their formal presentations, with winners to be chosen by summit attendees.

University of Southern Indiana: Technology Commercialization Academy;

University of Kansas: Entrepreneurs@KU;

STC.UNM: University of New Mexico (STC.UNM) & New Mexico Angels (NMA) Partnership; and

Penn State University – Main Campus: TechCelerator

Representing the University of Kansas is Julie Nagel, interim associate vice chancellor for innovation and collaboration, who will make a presentation about the Entrepreneurs@KU initiative which is providing a transparent and supportive infrastructure to assist faculty and staff in starting companies.

The initiative is housed at KU Innovation and Collaboration, the bi-campus technology commercialization office of the University of Kansas. It manages KU’s intellectual property, licensing and start-up company activities, and leads the University of Kansas economic development mission.

The University of Southern Indiana has been identified as an Awards of Excellence finalist in three categories (Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Research and Analysis, and Talent Development).

USI will therefore have the opportunity to make three presentations about the USI Technology Commercialization Academy (TCA), Measuring Innovation to Induce Innovation (I-69 Innovation Corridor), and the Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center Initiative.

Michael Thissen, manager of I-69 Innovation Corridor, said in a release that “With USI snatching three of the competitive slots in our first year of submitting, it’s clear we’re on the right track for innovation.”

The I-69 Innovation Corridor is also the subject of a panel discussion at the UEDA Summit. It was launched as a regional innovation incubator focused on transforming the surrounding area through entrepreneurship, innovation and talent development. More than 32 counties from multiple states are impacted by I-69’s expansion.

Gene Merrell, associate vice president for economic development at the University of Idaho and this year’s UEDA Awards of Excellence Chair, said in a release that the Awards program is unique in that it is entirely peer driven.

The 18 finalists across all five categories were picked by the UEDA Awards of Excellence Committee from the nominations that were submitted. “These finalists will be judged and recognized by the attendees of the Annual Summit. Being recognized by such a diverse spectrum of economic development professionals provides further validation of the efforts of these initiatives,” added Merrell.

Topeka Economic development Partnership Secures Mars Chocolate Expansion

Mars Chocolate North America has broken ground on an expansion of its new plant in Topeka, KS which opened last year as the first new Mars Chocolate plant to be built in the last 35 years.

Mars Chocolate

Mars Chocolate (photo – 4nitsirk/flickr)

Supported by City of Topeka economic development incentives, the company is investing $100 million to add a new 90,000-square-foot facility to the plant.

As part of the expansion, Mars will create 70 new full-time permanent new manufacturing jobs at the facility with an average annual salary of $42,000.

The company’s total investment at the LEED Gold certified Mars Chocolate Topeka plant, which already has 200 employees producing a variety of M&M’S Brand Candies and SNICKERS Bars, now stands at $430 million.

Mars has a total of nine chocolate products manufacturing sites in the U.S. with over 3,500 associates who produce 95 percent of Mars Chocolate products sold in the U.S. All told, McLean, Virginia-based Mars more than 75,000 associates worldwide and generates net sales of more than $33 billion across its six business segments.

Mars Chocolate North America President Tracey Massey said in a release announcing the expansion that for over a century, Mars has been committed to making their products in the markets where they sell them.

Massey added that they are grateful for the warm welcome and continued support they have received from Topeka and the state of Kansas, and we are pleased to further invest in the community with additional job creation and economic development.

Governor Sam Brownback said in the release that “This additional investment does more than create new well-paying jobs for Kansans, it reflects Mars’ continuing commitment to growing its business in America’s heartland.”

At their meeting held a day before the Mars expansion announcement, the Topeka Joint Economic Development Organization (JEDO) unveiled Mars as the company behind the $100 million “Project Storm.” To support Mars’ expansion, JEDO’s package includes a 10-year property tax abatement, job creation and training incentives, and up to $260,000 in incentives for the company’s investment in building and equipment.

Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast said in the release that the city of Topeka is excited when existing companies like Mars Chocolate North America select the community to continue their growth and investment.

Scott Griffith, chairman of the board of directors of Topeka economic development partnership GO Topeka, said in the release that this expansion represents the continued partnership between Mars and the Topeka community. Griffith added that it showcases a key JEDO focus on bringing in additional employment and investment from existing businesses into the community.

Wichita State University Lands Airbus Engineering Center

Airbus Americas has signed a letter of intent with the Wichita State Innovation Alliance Inc. to locate an Airbus engineering center in a new building at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.


Airbus (photo – airbus.com)

The project, known as Partnership 1, includes the construction of a 90,000-square-foot building and adjacent parking into which Airbus will relocate some 400 employees from its current location in downtown Wichita.

John O’Leary, vice president of Airbus Americas Engineering, said in a release announcing the project that they intend to take full advantage of WSU’s applied learning strategy. O’Leary added that their intent is to partner with WSU to develop the strategy to the point that it is recognized as the benchmark program in the country.

WSU President John Bardo said in the release that this secures WSU’s future as a global center of engineering and will encourage other world-class firms to locate on the campus.

John Tomblin, vice president for research and technology transfer at WSU, likewise noted that Airbus’ presence on campus will allow them quick and easy access to the university’s research and testing labs, faculty expertise and student employees.

WSU established the Wichita State Innovation Alliance Inc. as an economic development arm tasked to work with companies, investors and governments on developing a 120-acre part of the campus that was previously a golf course into an Innovation Campus.

The Innovation Campus concept was designed to align with the goals of the WSU Strategic Plan. It includes, among other things, applied learning and acceleration of the discovery, creation and transfer of new knowledge.

Governor Sam Brownback said in the release that the Innovation Campus is a significant asset for the region and leverages the tremendous capabilities of Wichita State to help grow the state’s economy.

The Airbus engineering center’s relocation from its downtown location to the WSU Innovation Campus also creates additional opportunities for Wichita economic development. The Wichita Downtown Development Corporation is scheduled to announce plans for Airbus’ downtown office space.

WDDC President Jeff Fluhr said in the release that the decision by Airbus to relocate frees up prime space in Wichita’s Old Town, and added that he’s very pleased with the plans they are about to announce for it.

Airbus Americas has six main locations in the U.S., with the newest one being the $600 million A320 Family final assembly line in Mobile, AL. Airbus spends 42 percent of its aircraft-related procurement in the U.S., and workers in more than 40 states help build Airbus aircraft, supporting 245,000 jobs.

Kansas Transportation Economic Development Funding Enables Historic Acme Foundry’s Expansion

The 110-year old Acme Foundry in Coffeyville, KS is expanding its operations to add a new shipping and receiving facility.

Coffeyville, KS

Coffeyville, KS (photo – Steven Pick/wikipedia)

The 30,000-square-foot expansion is creating 50 new jobs at the facility. The expansion and job creation was made possible with support from a Kansas economic development program administered by the state department of transportation.

Specifically, the City of Coffeyville is getting up to $1 million from the KDOT Economic Development program for improvements in the streets near the Acme Foundry.

Acme Chief Financial Officer Bob Shepard said in a City of Coffeyville release that closing down part of Spruce Street and tearing down the Robinson Packer building allows them to construct the facility in such a way as to keep the trucks on Acme property.

KDOT funding enables the streets to be reconstructed, along with a number of intersections. These transportation improvements were vital for the project because the existing street serving the foundry and other industrial traffic have to be moved in order to make way for the Acme expansion. Without the road project funded by KDOT, the expansion would not have been possible.

Governor Sam Brownback said in a release announcing the funding that one of the functions of state government is to provide the support companies need to expand or locate in Kansas.

The Governor added that KDOT’s Economic Development program is a perfect example of how public-private partnerships can broaden the state’s economic base, and that means jobs for Kansans.

Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King likewise noted that one of the best ways to encourage economic growth is through strategic investment in transportation infrastructure, and that is exactly what they have done in Coffeyville.

The Acme Foundry is a world-wide leader in the production of grey iron castings. It is one of the largest of the 3,000 odd foundries that are still operational in the United States.

The Acme Foundry’s history goes back to 1905, when it originally opened as the Coffeyville Foundry Company. The original plant with one foundry building and a machine shop had 40 employees. By the 1960s, the plant had grown to more than 110,000 square feet and had more than 160 employees, and grew further to more than 300 employees after the millennium. Now the Acme Foundry has more than 212,000 square feet, with plans to add another 30,000 square feet and 50 employees.

Kansas State University Kicks Off Construction of Bulk Solids Innovation Center

Kansas State University last week broke ground on their long-planned and much-awaited Bulk Solids Innovation Center project in Salina, KS.

Rendering of K-State Bulk Solids Innovation Center in Salina, KS

Rendering of Bulk Solids Innovation Center in Salina, KS (photo – k-state.edu)

The 13,000-square-foot innovation center is a public-private partnership involving K-State, the Salina Economic Development Corporation, the U.S. Economic Development Administration,State of Kansas, City of Salina, the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, and a number of private companies.

Along with the university, Coperion K-Tron Salina Inc. and Vortex Valves will serve as the building’s anchor tenants.

This innovation center for researching the science and understanding of bulk solids materials handling will be the only one of its kind in North America.

Bulk solids are dry commodities such as sugar, grain, minerals, chemicals, recycled plastics and other pellets, granules and powders that make up 80 percent of items being transported worldwide and used as components of almost all manufactured goods.

Unlike liquids and gases, the science behind these bulk solids is not as yet thoroughly understood, and very little research has been done on the most efficient methods of handling, storage and distribution of bulk solids.

New research into the science behind bulk solids could provide a wide range of industries with significantly enhanced productivity and cost savings.

To facilitate this project, the EDA invested $1 million in 2013 for construction of the Bulk Solids Innovation Center, which had been in the planning stage for around five years.

Once operational after April 2015, the center will offer space for multiple small and medium-sized research projects related to improving storage and transportation of bulk solids. Major companies including Dow Chemical, Procter and Gamble, Exxon Mobil, Cargill and DuPont have expressed interest in contracting with the university for solving problems with their bulk solids processing operations.

Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research and engagement at K-State Salina, said this center is the next step in defining K-State Salina in the field of research. Barnhart added that expert faculty and committed students are key to making K-State and the innovation center distinctive locally and internationally, which will in turn attract sponsored research funding and world-class industries, resulting in a positive economic impact on the area.

Mark Jackson, head of the engineering technology department at K-State Salina, said the innovation center will help them redesign degree programs to embrace project and product-based learning, and their graduates will start being immediately productive in the bulk solids processing industries.

Economic Development News – Fourth of July Edition

Here’s some nice economic development news timed perfectly to coincide with the start of the Fourth of July weekend.

Star fields for U.S. Flag made at Allied facility in Bogalusa, La.

Star fields for U.S. Flag made at Allied facility in Bogalusa, La. (photo – alliedmaterials.com)

First up, Allied Materials and Equipment Company, Inc., which produces U.S. flags for federal agencies, announced an expansion of its facility in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

The company is investing $340,000 and creating 21 new jobs in Washington Parish. The investment is supposed to be for purchasing new embroidery equipment used for applying stars onto the blue canton of the American flag.

“On the eve of our nation’s Independence Day celebration, it is truly fitting that we celebrate this expansion by Allied Materials & Equipment Company today in Washington Parish,” said Governor Bobby Jindal.

As per estimates from Louisiana Economic Development, the project will support the creation of another 12 indirect jobs, adding up to a total of more than 30 new jobs in Bogalusa and Washington Parish.

Ryan Seal, executive director of the Washington Economic Development Foundation, said they have maintained a great working relationship with Allied Materials & Equipment Company since 2001, and congratulated them on their continued investment in Bogalusa.

Greater New Orleans Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht said this announcement is symbolic not only of opportunity in America, but moreover of opportunity in Greater New Orleans.

Let’s go over from Washington Parish to Washington, D.C., where President Obama kicked off the Fourth of July weekend by visiting tech start-up hub 1776. Founded in Jan 2013, the hub is named 1776 for the year in which the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

President Obama toured the 1776 campus and heard business pitches from the incubator’s member startups in education, energy, transportation, health and other fields.

Meanwhile, Kansas wants employers to celebrate Independence Day by taking the KanVet “Hire a Veteran Pledge” to indicate that they will consider qualified veterans for job openings, and work with KANSASWORKS staff for identifying qualified veterans as candidates. So far, 29 companies in Kansas have signed this pledge.

Midwest Cabinet Co Gets KS Training Funds for ERP Implementation

Ottawa, KS-based Midwest Cabinet Co., Inc. has received state funding for its training needs related to the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Midwest Cabinet Company

Midwest Cabinet Company (photo – midwestcabinet.com)

The Kansas Department of Commerce approved $36,720 for Midwest Cabinet Co. under the Kansas Industrial Retraining program.

The funding will help the company train and retrain their 136 existing employees to use the Epicor E9 ERP system being implemented to drive increased efficiency and profitability.

Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George said that software update and training program by Midwest Cabinets will help the company continue to thrive in a highly competitive market, and noted that this was great news for the company and its employees, and for the state’s economy.

The funding proposal was initiated as a result of a joint initiative undertaken by the KS Dept. of Commerce and the Franklin County Development Council to educate local employers about the availability of Kansas economic development incentives and other existing state assistance programs for employers.

Jeff Seymour, executive director of the Franklin County Development Council, contacted Midwest Cabinet Co. President and CEO Bob Howell about a meeting between the two of them and the Commerce Dept’s Craig VanWey to discuss state incentives and programs.

Howell mentioned that the meeting time would have to be flexible because they were launching the new ERP software, and was immediately told that the state could help with the implementation by providing Kansas Industrial Retraining program funds.

The paperwork was filled out and returned and the funding was instantly approved. Howell said this was the fastest and smoothest process they have ever encountered.

The Kansas Industrial Retraining grant program is meant to help Kansas companies retain their skilled workforce, and to help businesses implement new technologies that help them be globally competitive.

Midwest Cabinets has two 70,000-square-foot state of the art manufacturing facilities in Kansas located in Ottawa and Chanute where they produce high quality cabinets, booths and interior components for national companies such as Chuck E. Cheese and Applebee’s.

Seymour said Midwest Cabinets was a long-standing member of the Franklin County and Neosho County economies, and they were excited to see such a quality company receiving funding for upgrading their operations and investing in their employees.

He added that such projects are a great showcase of public-private partnerships, and they were happy to have been involved in the conversation that progressed to the company’s receipt of these funds.

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