Monday, January 26 2015
Businesses have created more than 50,000 new private sector jobs in the state during the past four years. Over the past three years, state exports have risen more than 26 percent. New business formations have set state records for two consecutive years. Entrepreneurs and businesses across a wide range of industries are thriving in the Sunflower State.
An outstanding business environment has helped build this momentum. From tax policy to infrastructure to the workforce, Kansas has the policies and resources designed to help businesses succeed, grow, invest and create jobs.
Kansas is an affordable place to start and operate a business. Most small businesses pay no state income tax, allowing them to invest more money and take advantage of opportunities for future growth. The state has no personal property tax, no inventory tax and no franchise tax. Kansas also features a payroll withholding tax retention program and sales tax exemptions.
Furthermore, the state recently lowered personal income taxes. Those are only a few of the cost advantages. Utility rates are below the national average and an outstanding transportation infrastructure can reduce shipping times and costs. The state ranks third in the U.S. for total road mileage and has two major interstates, I-70 and I-35, which allows businesses to connect with the North America Free Trade Agreement corridor. Kansas also has one of the best and most extensive railroad systems in the country, accounting for 2.23 percent of all U.S. railroad miles. More than 15 rail carriers provide freight service to virtually anywhere in the state, and a state of the art intermodal facility near Kansas City provides major benefits for distributors.
One of the most valuable assets businesses have in Kansas is the workforce. Long known for their hard work, Kansans are also among the most skilled workers in the country. The state has an excellent educational system that ensures students obtain the skills and training needed to succeed in the workplace. That system includes seven major universities and 26 community and technical colleges.
In addition to these schools, Kansas has implemented a number of innovative initiatives to enhance the skills and qualifications of its workforce. A Career and Technical Education initiative allows high school students to get a head start on postsecondary education by taking technical education classes tuition free. As a result, record numbers of Kansans are graduating from high school having already obtained industry recognized credentials. These credentials are in occupations that are in high demand, helping students find jobs and businesses fill critical open positions.
Another workforce initiative supporting Kansas businesses is Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand, or Workforce AID. This effort allows businesses to partner with technical colleges to help design training courses. Through this collaboration, colleges and employers are able to ensure that graduates are prepared to succeed in their professional lives and support industry needs. Students who participate in Workforce AID meet with employers throughout the training process and interview with participating businesses upon successful completion.
While Kansans possess the education, skills and work ethic needed to grow a business, they also enjoy an amazing quality of life thanks to great schools, a low cost of living and vibrant communities. The state’s cities and towns offer numerous cultural options ranging from sports and food to music and art. Of course, the state is also renowned for its friendly small towns and wide-open spaces. As every Kansas resident can tell you, the unique spectrum of activities appeals to those with diverse interests and helps the state stand out.
With so many advantages, it is hardly surprising that businesses in the state are thriving in numerous industries. Advanced manufacturing stands out as an important sector, in part because of Wichita’s history as an aviation manufacturing leader and the “Air Capital of the World.” Due to the presence of many successful advanced manufacturers in Wichita, as well as the numerous research institutions in areas such as aviation, polymers and plastics, the U.S. Department of Commerce recently designated south central Kansas as one of 12 national Manufacturing Communities.
Kansas recently launched a new initiative, the Kansas Edge, designed to help the state’s numerous small businesses and manufacturers capture work that had previously been offshored. The initiative helps outline the cost savings and efficiencies companies can expect if they reshore work to Kansas businesses, and also provides a dynamic database of Kansas suppliers. The database, which is available at TheKansasEdge.com, allows businesses to search for Kansas manufacturers by many criteria to identify suppliers that can meet their needs.
In addition to manufacturing, bioscience is another rapidly growing industry in Kansas. The state’s long history as an agricultural leader has contributed to the rise of the Animal Health Corridor, which runs through the heart of the state and accounts for more than 30 percent of total sales in the global animal health market. This Corridor recently led to the selection of Kansas as the site for the new National Bio and Agro-Defense facility, which will protect the American food supply.
Alternative energy plays a growing role in the Kansas economy, as Kansas has emerged as a leader in the wind energy industry. The state has 2,967 megawatts of wind energy capacity installed, with an additional 673 megawatts under construction. Distribution and food processing are other key industries in the state that are experiencing significant growth.
Businesses continue to find success in Kansas. Low costs, outstanding infrastructure and a great workforce help make the state a great place to invest and create jobs. That is why business leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators keep choosing the Sunflower State as the best place to thrive and succeed in a competitive economy.
Visit ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com/Kansas_ed for local economic development office directory listings.