STATE FOCUS: Kansas Focuses On The All-Around
By Business Facilities Editorial Staff
From the January/February 2014 issue
Kansas boasts one of the most business-friendly environments in the U.S. The state recognizes that small businesses are critical to the economy and recently eliminated income taxes for many small organizations. Limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, Subchapter-S corporations and sole proprietorships no longer pay state income tax, allowing these businesses to invest more money, hire more workers and contribute even more to the state’s economic growth.
Kansas also has no personal property tax, no inventory tax and no franchise tax. In addition, the state offers a payroll withholding tax retention program and sales tax exemptions and recently lowered personal income taxes. Kansas is a right-to-work state, bringing one additional cost saving to employers.
Kansas’ strong business environment is supported by one of the state’s most valuable assets—a skilled and dedicated workforce. In addition to a strong work ethic, Kansas workers are highly educated. The state ranks 17th in the nation for percentage of adults, 25 and over, with a high school education, and 16th for percentage of adults with a college degree. The state also has numerous postsecondary education institutions that include seven major universities and 26 community and technical colleges.
Kansas also is focusing on human capital development to make it easier for Kansans to obtain the skills and training needed to help employers succeed in the global economy. A Career and Technical Education initiative allows high school students to take postsecondary technical education classes at no cost. In just one year, this initiative has increased the number of high school students enrolled in postsecondary classes by nearly 70 percent. Other workforce development initiatives include a credentialing initiative to help workers obtain industry recognized certifications and an engineering initiative which is increasing the number of engineering students in Kansas universities.
As the state also is fortunate to have many military veterans, Kansas is helping these heroes connect with employers and find job training opportunities through an initiative called KanVet. This has allowed Kansas to give back to those who have served America, while also helping employers find workers with strong work ethics and diverse, valuable experiences.
Kansas offers a strategic location in the center of the United States that is bolstered by quality transportation options, including major interstates I-70 and I-35, which allow the state 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; the state’s 4,776 miles of track account for 2.23 percent of all U.S. railroad miles. More than 15 rail carriers provide freight service to virtually anywhere in the state. Together with the highway system, Kansas’ quality railroads ensure that businesses in the state have next-day freight delivery to nearly 70 percent of the United States.
A new BNSF Railway Intermodal Facility near Kansas City provides businesses with one more strategic shipping advantage. A large business park at the facility has ample warehouse space for manufacturers who want immediate access to one of the best new intermodals in the country.
Agriculture and Kansas are indelibly linked, but the state in fact has a diverse array of industries. Some of the most important and rapidly growing sectors are alternative energy, distribution, bioscience, advanced manufacturing and value-added agriculture and food processing.
Bioscience is a key sector thanks in part to the state’s long history as a leader in the agricultural industry. This has given rise to the Animal Health Corridor, which runs through the heart of the state. This corridor includes international research organizations and companies, and accounts for more than 30 percent of total sales in the global animal health market.
Similarly, food processing companies have leveraged Kansas’ agricultural strengths to achieve success in the state. The state provides access to raw materials and has numerous educational and research organizations that focus on the food supply. Unilever, Mars and Cargill are among the wide range of companies that have recently decided to open food processing facilities in the state.
TOPEKA TAKES A TOP SPOT
Kansas’s business-friendly policies, low living expenses and hard-working population make it an ideal location for companies that are looking to expand or relocate their businesses. But which destination in this great state offers the right combination of resources and support while delivering it all with a can-do attitude? For many companies, including Mars Chocolate North America and Home Depot, the destination of choice is Topeka.
Topeka, located in Shawnee County, KS, offers a wide range of resources and services to existing and relocating or expanding companies. Whether it’s access to a highly educated workforce, quality infrastructure or a low cost of doing business, the community offers unique advantages, including:
- Over 1,500 available acres fully equipped for your business, including two commerce parks with prime locations near rail and highway transportation and direct access to two runways.
- Foreign Trade Zones that are “user friendly” site-specific and allocated on an individual company basis.
- Aggressive local incentives, based on the quality of jobs, and state incentives, including income tax credits.
- A tax program that exempts all machinery and equipment from personal property taxes.
- A Community Improvement District program to reinvigorate old commercial/residential areas and retain business investment and job growth tax incentives for Kansas businesses.
- A property tax exemption of up to 10 years on real property for qualified companies.
- Goods shipped by truck to reach 25 percent of the U.S. in one day and 90 percent by two.
These advantages, coupled with a knowledgeable staff and a friendly community, have led many companies to choose Topeka as their newest home. The city also continues to house large companies like Frito-Lay, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Del Monte, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and a number of others. Having these corporate citizens as a part of the Topeka and Shawnee County community has helped provide a stable quality of life throughout the area.
Once a company has decided to call Topeka and Shawnee County home, GO Topeka will work with local officials to make sure companies transition smoothly into the community; but they do not stop there. They help established businesses grow by offering incentives for expansion and a dedicated staff with expertise in helping existing companies.
In the past year, many of Topeka’s existing companies took advantage of both the healthy economy in the city and resources and incentives offered by GO Topeka to grow their business. Southwest Publishing and Mailing
Corporation and HF Rubber Mixing both expanded their facilities and created new jobs. Reser’s Fine Foods chose to invest in their existing facility, and Alorica, a support center, has been booming, adding almost 305 new jobs in the past year, with plans to add even more in the near future.
Why are all of these companies thriving in Topeka? Here are several reasons:
- Its cost of doing business is 15 percent lower than the national average.
- Its cost of living consistently ranks 8 percent to 10 percent lower than the national average.
- State and local taxes are 11 percent lower than the national average.
- Energy costs are 18 percent lower than the national average.
Topeka prides itself on its highly educated, well-trained, quality workforce. A new training class teaches the hard and soft skills necessary to succeed in food manufacturing. The Washburn Institute of Technology, located in Topeka, offers programs in technology, construction, transportation and more. The Advanced Systems Technology program turns out students with the technical knowledge and skills to troubleshoot, repair and maintain industrial machinery and equipment to keep production lines and distribution systems running. Four universities within a 60-mile radius provide more than 13,500 graduates each year.