Kansas’ business recruitment and retention infrastructure has never been stronger
In my economic development work at the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce and previous roles across the state, I have seen the importance of a strong Kansas Department of Commerce.
I can personally attest that economic development is a top priority in Kansas, evidenced by the positive turnaround of the Kansas Department of Commerce under Gov. Laura Kelly’s direction.
Kelly moved quickly to repair our state’s lead economic development agency, and I’ve never seen a more dedicated team of professionals working to promote Kansas.
Now-Lt. Gov./Commerce Secretary David Toland, has led a comprehensive, bold effort to rebuild Commerce’s business recruitment team, expand Kansas’ international footprint, re-establish the agency’s community development division and ramp up workforce development efforts.
The results are evident here in Hutchinson, Reno County and beyond.
Kansas saw record-setting capital investment in 2020, and our state is on track to eclipse that mark this year — all accomplished in the face of the pandemic.
We’re proud that local Reno County based companies were part of the state’s historic, record-setting year of capital investment in 2020:
• Superior Boiler relocated their watertube division from Virginia to Hutchinson, announcing 57 jobs and nearly $3.3 million in business investment.
• J&J Drainage Products Inc. invested in a new building and equipment totaling more than $2.8 million.
• Haven Steel Products announced 15 new jobs and more than $900,000 in capital investment.
• Data Center announced a facility renovation of $1.1 million project.
The momentum hasn’t slowed in 2021.
Locally, that’s included projects like American Packaging Corporation with a new expansion investment of more than $12 million in South Hutchinson, KMS Inc. expanding into a 300,000 square-foot warehouse, BOLD 3PL expanding its warehouse and distribution operations to nearly 500,000 square feet, AgTrax expanding its software company into an upper-story office conversion in downtown Hutch, and the recent First Team Sports expansion of 30,000 square feet in the Industrial Park.
We’re also grateful for the Department of Commerce’s enhanced community development efforts. As a Kansas Main Street community, Hutchinson recently hosted the Upstairs Downtown workshop to encourage redevelopment of upper-floor spaces in downtown buildings as a prime example of an innovative approach to adding needed housing and adaptive reuse of existing real estate in communities of all sizes.
Companies of all sizes are choosing to put down roots in our state because we are doing more to showcase our state’s central location, outstanding infrastructure, talented workforce, quality health care, affordable cost of doing business and a robust quality of life.
All of this is reinforced by the workforce development investment in our future talent pipeline. Education of young Kansans must remain a priority to create a robust educated workforce on which to build Kansas’ future.
Kansas’ business recruitment and retention infrastructure has never been stronger than it is right now. Thanks to this new momentum, we’re well positioned to show the world why Kansas is the best place in the nation to do business.
Debra Teufel has served as the president/CEO of the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce since 2017.