Topeka is the capital city of Kansas and the county seat of Shawnee County. It has a population of 123,446 (Shawneeâ€™s population is 174,709) and consistently ranks eight to ten percent below the national average for cost of living, making for a comfortable quality of life. The City shows active pride and investment in healthcare, education and community development, turning out a highly educated workforce.
The Topeka Public School District earned the U.S. Department of Education National Schools of Excellence Award and approximately 85 percent of Shawnee county residents age 25 and older are high school graduates or have completed an equivalency, with 36 percent of residents holding a bachelors or higher. Two nationally acclaimed research universities (University of Kansas and Kansas State University) are adjacent to the community and Topekaâ€™s own Washburn University is top 10-rated in the Midwest. The City has a lively performing arts scene, recreation facilities for nature lovers, as well as activities and attractions for every taste.
Topeka, Not Business as Usual
With the cost of doing business and energy costs lower than the national average, Topeka is headquarters to national and international companies that include Hillâ€™s Pet Nutrition, Inc. and Security Benefit. The City encourages new direction and growth and offers solutions to help business with customer retention, development of a more efficient supply chain and finding new profit opportunities.
Topekaâ€™s target industries include heavy manufacturing, distribution and warehousing, animal sciences and food processing. Emerging targets include robotics manufacturing and data centers. Topeka encourages a return on investment by offering state and local incentives for conducting business in the City:
â€˘ Free land and cash based on the quality of jobs created
â€˘ Machinery and equipment exemption from personal property taxes
â€˘ Funding for bioscience
â€˘ State and Local taxes that are 11 percent lower than the national average
â€˘ Office rentals 26 percent lower than national average
â€˘ NaviGate, to help maximize resources, assess entrepreneursâ€™ needs and standardize progress with partner organizations
The Central Park Connection
Topeka has a central location with prime highway and rail transportation networks (BNSF and Union Pacific). It is within one hour of Kansas City International airport and Topekaâ€™s own Forbes Field airport offers admission to a Foreign Trade Zone and direct access to two runways (12,800′ and 7,000′). The City provides close proximity to intermodal facilities, telecommunications services and high speed Internet, ranking with New York City and San Francisco for fiber optic cable per square mile.
Topeka capitalized on its location with the 500-acre light industrial Central Crossing Commerce Park. Home to Target, Frito Lay, and Home Depot, shovel-ready sites are available with water, sewer, natural gas and electric in place. There is developed entryway and roads throughout, and local consultation from groundbreaking to grand opening. The mixed-use land parcels are ideal for manufacturing and distribution and offer quick interstate highway accessâ€”at the linkage of U.S. 75 and I-70, direct connection with major rail service, and adjacency to the 2,000-acre foreign trade zone.
With the addition of Kanza Fire Commerce Park, GO Topeka continues efforts to attract quality businesses that will provide primary jobs to Topeka and Shawnee County. The 1,018-acres is bisected by U.S. 75 and provides 6000′ of rail with access to I-335, I-70 and the airport. The Park has a sustainable design, energy efficiency, walking trails, 130 acres of green space and shared energy sources.
GO Topeka also began a partnership with the Topeka Public School district to develop Kanza Science and Innovation Park. The 80-acres will house research facilities in the alternative energy, bioscience, health science and animal health science sectors. Near two major hospitals, Kanza Park businesses will have access to resources and a workforce unlike anywhere else in the region.
Go Topeka Keeps Going and Going…
According to research and analysis done by Impact DataSource, projects resulting from GO Topekaâ€™s 2009 efforts will have a net benefit of more than $15 million for Topeka and Shawnee County over the next 10 years. Including the Home Depot Rapid Deployment Centerâ€”300 jobs and a $25 million investment, purchase of the Payless ShoeSource distribution center by PTMW, Inc.â€”138 new jobs and a $4.25 million investment, and the U.S. Foodservice expansionâ€”24 jobs with a $13 million investment, GO Topeka helped retain 1,575 jobs and create 463 new jobs. It is anticipated that another 3,770 direct and indirect jobs will follow as a corollary. The study also estimates that the jobs created will bring 762 new residents into Shawnee County. In turn, new properties will be built and more taxes will be collected from wages, properties and purchases.
After extraction of incentive and service costs, Topeka is expected to see nearly $10.8 million worth of net benefits, Shawnee County is likely to net around $4.4 million, and Washburn University will receive over $5 million. Impact DataSource also predicts about $104.5 million in benefits to the State of Kansas, all over the next decade.
â€śThis is a great return on the investment for economic development,â€ť said Steve Jenkins, senior VP of economic development for Greater Topeka Chamber/GO Topeka. â€śIn addition to the benefits to other taxing entities and the wages being added to the community for the next decade, we continue to see a growth in the primary job sector that drives growth of small businesses and improvement of the communityâ€™s quality of life. This is what the community envisioned when the sales tax for economic development was passed by the voters.â€ť