By Ed Felton
From the January/February 2015 issue
The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) has announced that ReallyGoodStuff.com has selected Kansas City as the location of its new e-commerce fulfillment center. The expansion project includes a $3.36 million capital investment and is expected to create 44 new jobs.
“Located in the heart of America, in the center of all the action, Missouri is the perfect place to locate a business,” said Mike Downing, director of the Missouri DED. “Combine our central location with our experienced workforce and robust transportation infrastructure and there’s no better place for ReallyGoodStuff.com to grow. We’re happy to have them join our community.”
Established in 1992, ReallyGoodStuff.com works side-by-side with educators to develop a catalog of school supplies inspired by innovative teachers. Their goal is to offer fun, colorful products that fulfill teachers’ needs. Really Good Stuff reaches teachers all across the USA. The company begins its third decade by renewing its pledge to provide the very best fun, creative, and affordable teaching tools to help teachers make a difference in their children’s lives.
Jon Sonneborn, Executive Vice President of Really Good Stuff said, “We’re delighted to be setting up a major distribution center in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Kansas City. For over twenty years we’ve served elementary schools in every state and in almost every community. Now we’re much closer to many of our beloved teachers.”
To assist ReallyGoodStuff.com with its expansion to Kansas City, the Missouri Department of Economic Development has offered a strategic economic incentive package that the company can receive if it meets strict job creation and investment criteria. The Kansas City Area Development Council and the City of Kansas City also partnered with ReallyGoodStuff.com to help make its expansion possible.
Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, recently announced the relocation of its services center and corporate departments to Kansas City, MO. The firm will lease 45,000 sq. ft. for its Global Services Center located at 2301 McGee Center at Crown Center and is expected to initially create up to 275 new jobs with the potential for significant growth over the next several years.
“Missouri continues to be the center for economic activity as more and more global businesses like Littler are deciding that the Show-Me State is a great place to grow, invest and create jobs,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “After a record year for new jobs and investment, this announcement adds to our momentum and provides for a great start for 2015.”
JOPLIN: A CENTER OF ACTIVITY
A central U.S. location, efficient transportation connections and a skilled workforce add up to make the Joplin region a great location for distribution and manufacturing operations.
Anchored by the Joplin, MO-Miami, OK, metropolitan area and the Pittsburg and Parsons, KS micropolitan areas, the Joplin region creates market access to more than 30 million people within a 350-mile radius. “That market reach is more than what people consider traditional distribution hubs like Tulsa and Kansas City,” noted Kevin Welch, director of the Joplin Regional Partnership.
The Partnership represents more than a dozen cities in seven counties, in the three-state corner of MO, KS and OK. With Interstates 44 and 49 crossing the region, most of the continental U.S., and parts of Canada and Mexico, can be reached in two day’s shipping time. The area also has three Class-One railroads and two short-line providers, guaranteeing ample access to rail and additional connectivity to the West Coast and Gulf Coast ports. Commercial air service is provided by the Joplin Regional Airport and three other commercial airports.
While the Joplin region has great location and excellent transportation access, it is the workforce that makes many companies successful. The region’s workforce gets high marks from area employers, who note employees’ ethic and commitment to ongoing training. With the region’s history in manufacturing and distribution, people are still interested in working in these two sectors, as well as transportation.
“The commitment and pride in their work residents have is enhanced by the training and education facilities throughout the area,” said Welch.
Missouri Southern State University and Pittsburg State University offer a number of standard and customized programs in business management, quality control, logistics management and applied engineering. The presence of four community colleges provides basic business and technical skills training for manufacturing and distribution firms.
Recently, the region aggressively worked with ACT to implement career-ready certification to national standards. Jasper County is the first ACT Career-Ready Certified community in the U.S. More than 5,000 people in the workforce now have their skills certification.
Along with the key business success factors of central location, strong transportation access, strong workforce and reasonable operations costs, the region has other attributes that are beneficial to distribution operations. Although not available in every county, the region has Foreign Trade Zone areas that provide benefit to companies importing or exporting goods to and from countries outside the U.S. In addition, a new
EB-5 regional center is in place, giving expedited residency permits to foreign individuals making qualified investments in the region.
Companies seeking a central U.S. location with strong market reach to both coasts, Canada and Mexico will find the Joplin region offers multiple possibilities for sites, buildings, transportation and workforce skills. Learn more by contacting Kevin Welch at the Joplin Regional Partnership at [email protected] or (417) 624-4150.