Kansas is Nationally Renowned for Business and Quality of Life

18 Dec, 2017

By: Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D.

It’s fitting that Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster placed their hero Clark Kent in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas. When these two Midwestern high school students created the world’s ultimate superhero in 1933, they naturally decided that he should make his home in Kansas, the center of the heartland of America.

Eighty-four years later, Superman has plenty of company as people and businesses alike keep choosing Kansas as their home. 

When Mars Chocolate North America announced on March 30 this year that it would invest $55 million to expand its Topeka production facility, the news only confirmed what many business investors already knew: Kansas makes doing business easy.

Mars had lots of company last year, as businesses invested $1.43 billion into expansion projects, creating 10,676 new jobs in Kansas during 2016. Companies including Cargill Protein Group, Triumph Group, Jet.com, GEO Aviation and Siemens Gamesa all made large investments in Kansas. 

A high quality-of-life, low-cost-of-living, centrally located state tends to encourage business investment. These days, there’s no shortage of companies lining up and wanting to enter the Sunflower State. 

With so many advantages, businesses in the state are thriving in a variety of industries including manufacturing, bioscience and distribution, food processing and many more. Bioscience is a rapidly growing industry in the nation and in Kansas. The state’s long history as an agricultural leader has contributed to the rise of the Animal Health Corridor. This corridor runs through the heart of Kansas and has led to Kansas’ selection as the site for the National Bio and Agro-Defense facility, which is currently under construction. 

Part of this success is due to the positive and productive business climate in the Sunflower State. “Our state is not only the center of the nation, but the center of a Midwestern region favored by many businesses of all sizes for its excellent workforce, available transportation and low-cost-of-living,” said Interim Secretary of Commerce Nick Jordan. “Kansas also packs a heavy economic punch with a proactive legislative and regulatory environment which makes the Sunflower State a great place to invest and innovate.”

Kansas has a unique environment for business success. Not only does Kansas boast a pro-business climate which makes it easy for small businesses to succeed, but there are additional business incentives available through the Department of Commerce that can help businesses grow and bring additional jobs to the state. 

Big Advantages in Highway, Rail and Air Transportation 
No matter how much a company would like to expand, Kansas inherently provides enhanced shipping capabilities with the third-highest total road mileage in the U.S. and one of the most extensive railway systems in the nation with 2.23 percent of all U.S. railroad miles. Manufacturing and distribution companies can look forward to over a dozen rail carriers at their disposal and a state-of-the-art intermodal facility near Kansas City, which can provide enhanced distribution capabilities to businesses of all sizes.

Kansas also offers convenient access and direct routes to all national air service hubs as offered by airports strategically located across all regions of the state. There are 140 public use airports within the state, of which 132 are general aviation and eight are commercial airports.

A Trained and Ready-to-Work Workforce
In addition to Kansas’ business-friendly climate, the state boasts a university and technical training system that produces a steady flow of educated and certified workers. There are 58 colleges in Kansas, 33 public and 25 private. These educational institutions help to funnel skilled and talented professionals into the Kansas workforce.

There are also programs available through the Department of Commerce that give businesses an opportunity to retrain professionals with the specific skills they need, directly from the college or training program. A Career and Technical Education initiative allows high school students to get a head start on their postsecondary education by taking technical classes tuition free. This program results in a record number of Kansans graduating from high school with industry-recognized credentials. The credentials are usually in occupations that are in high demand, helping students find jobs and businesses fill critical open positions.

Another workforce initiative that provides businesses with talented job candidates is called Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand or Workforce AID. This effort sets up a partnership between businesses and technical colleges to set up training courses. These courses will teach exactly what the business needs. Through this collaboration, colleges and employers ensure that graduates and future employees are prepared for their professions and can support industry needs. These programs are also beneficial to the student because students meet with employers and interview with the participating businesses upon completion. This program is unique in that it assists the students, colleges and businesses in getting what they each need to succeed.

Through educational opportunities and top-notch experience in Kansas companies, businesses in Kansas have access to a highly skilled and talented workforce.  Many Kansans are responsible for the development of the nation’s most important industries, manufacturing quality products and leading the nation in innovative technologies. Kansans have always been known for their work ethic and dedication and this tradition continues today.

High Quality of Life in the Heartland
In addition to an incredible workforce and immense educational opportunities, Kansans also enjoy a superb quality of life. The state’s clean and thriving cities are home to diverse cultures and offer a wide range of activities. There is always a way to enjoy your day in Kansas – from recreational opportunities and sports teams, including both university and professional, to music and performances at nationally renowned venues. 

Of course, the state is well-known for its friendly small towns and wide-open spaces. The endless sky and beautiful, untouched wilderness can be enjoyed at any of Kansas’ 55 state parks, 36 State Wildlife Areas, three National Wildlife Refuges and Prairie National Park. 

The people of Kansas are what truly make the Sunflower State a great place to live and work.  

With so many ways to entertain, great schools and a low cost of living in vibrant communities, businesses continue to find a successful and productive place for their employees in Kansas. The state’s incredible infrastructure, top-ranked educational opportunities and talented workforce make Kansas a nationally and world-renowned place to start and grow a business. As a top-ranked pro-business state, Kansas will continue to assist businesses in building success in a thriving business environment.   T&ID