State Focus – Kansas: The Sunflower State Is Blooming and Booming

By the BF Staff
From the January/February 2016 Issue

Known as the Sunflower State, Kansas boasts a highly skilled workforce, outstanding infrastructure, low operating costs and a location in the heart of America. Thanks to these advantages, the state has experienced significant growth in numerous industries and emerged as a leader in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, bioscience, distribution and food processing. Leaders in these sectors and in many others have decided that the best place to invest in their future growth is Kansas.

Kansas has a proud history as a manufacturing leader, particularly in the aerospace sector. The state’s largest city, Wichita, is known as the Air Capital of the World due to the prominent role it plays in aviation manufacturing.

Wichita’s aviation manufacturers are supported by the National Center for Aviation Training and Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research. These educational institutions help hone the skills of the workforce in south central Kansas, while also partnering closely with industry on research. The Innovation Campus at Wichita State is a new and unique partnership that combines the university’s world class aviation research with industry expertise.

In western Kansas, winds whip across the prairie, providing the state with a valuable source of renewable energy. During the past decade, energy companies have started to capitalize on this resource by building a growing number of wind farms in the state, and Kansans continue to show increasing interest in expanding the use of large and small scale wind farms.

Since the beginning of 2008, wind generating capacity in Kansas has more than tripled to 2,967 megawatts. That capacity places Kansas in the top 10 in the U.S., and the state currently has more than 1,000 megawatts of additional wind energy projects under construction. Projections indicate that the state’s power system could potentially provide 7,000 megawatts from wind energy by 2030.

Beyond wind energy, Kansas has a growing biofuels sector. As an agricultural leader, the state offers affordable access to plentiful amounts of the raw materials needed to produce biofuels.

In order to support the continued expansion of the renewable energy industry, Kansas has a goal of generating 15 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2016, and the state’s utilities are on track to meet this target. A further goal of 20 percent by 2020 has been set.


Bioscience is yet another emerging industry in Kansas. The Kansas City Animal Health Corridor is home to more than 300 animal health companies that account for 56 percent of worldwide animal health, diagnostics and pet food sales. The Corridor is anchored in the west by Manhattan, Kansas. This city is home to Kansas State University, which is respected across the country as a leader in animal health research. Due to Kansas State’s strengths in this area, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is constructing its new National Bio and Agro Defense Facility in Manhattan, a $1.25 billion state of the art biosafety research laboratory.

The human health industry is also rapidly expanding in the Sunflower State. The University of Kansas Medical Center and Cancer Center are nationally recognized for their research and patient care. As a result, a number of clinical research companies and technology firms that serve the healthcare industry are expanding in the Kansas City area.

Geography is one of Kansas’ key assets. With a location at the center of the U.S., the state offers easy access to clients across North America. Interstate 70, which runs from the East Coast to the western United States, cuts a swath through the middle of Kansas. So does Interstate 35, which stretches from Canada to Mexico and is a key component of the North American Free Trade Agreement Corridor. Beyond these major routes, the state is home to a many additional miles of high quality highways, as only two states have more total road miles than Kansas.

The state also ranks in the top 10 in railroad miles, which helps facilitate second day freight delivery to every area of the continental U.S. This railroad system includes the Logistics Park Kansas City intermodal facility located in Edgerton, Kansas. The $1 billion state-of-the-art development is the only full-service facility in the western two-thirds of the country that offers the combination of domestic intermodal service, international intermodal service and direct-rail and carload service. It features 64,000 feet of track, 4,300 container stacking spots, and five wide-span cranes that are all electric to reduce the facility’s environmental impact.

Known as the breadbasket of America for its wheat production, Kansas is also one of the United States’ leading producers of beef, corn and soybeans, and has one of the most rapidly growing dairy industries of any state. Because of this abundance of raw agricultural commodities, a growing number of value-added agriculture and food processing companies are opening facilities in Kansas.

In 2015, Dairy Farmers of America announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters to Kansas and also began construction of a $235 million milk powder plant that will process four million pounds of milk per day.

Businesses in Kansas are attaining remarkable success today, yet they are positioned for even stronger growth in the future. In an increasingly competitive global economy, innovation and forward thinking leadership is of the utmost importance. Recognizing this, Kansas has focused on building a business environment that supports growth now and in the future.

Through innovative workforce programs, cutting edge research institutions, outstanding infrastructure and reduced costs, the state is prepared to help companies achieve success for years to come. Business and industry leaders from around the world are investing in the Sunflower State because they recognize that an investment in Kansas is an investment in their future.


Topeka, KS offers a plethora of resources and services to help existing and relocating or expanding companies. A highly educated workforce, quality infrastructure, and a low cost of doing business are just a few advantages that the community offers.

Mars Chocolate North America’s first new plant in the U.S. in more than 35 years is located in Topeka and already is in the midst of an expansion within its first three years of operation. (Source:

In the past year, many of Topeka’s existing companies took advantage of both the healthy economy in Topeka and resources and incentives offered by GO Topeka to grow their business. Big Heart Pet Brands, Federal Home Loan Bank and Mars Chocolate North America have all expanded their facilities and added more jobs to the community in 2015. In addition to expansions of businesses within the community, Koch and Co., joined the Topeka community in 2015.

These companies are choosing to expand and thrive in Topeka because their business expenses are low. The cost of doing business is 15 percent lower than the national average and the cost of living for Topeka has consistently ranked 8 percent to 10 percent lower than the national average. Those assets partnered with low state and local taxes as well energy costs that are 18 percent lower than the national average, create an environment where a company can continue to grow and compete globally.

Topeka has top four industries are prospering. Food processing, advanced systems technology, professional and financial services and logistics companies find Topeka is a great place to do business. Food processing companies that look to create the best product with an eye toward controlling cost will find Topeka can provide access to the talent and training that will enable their company to succeed. Within 60 miles of Topeka, they will be able to access a highly educated workforce with over 13,500 students graduating annually from The University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Washburn University along with access to agricultural research conducted at KSU and an existing workforce of over 3,100 currently in the food processing industry.

Add to that Topeka’s access to low cost reliable power and water, speed to market, aggressive financial incentive programs, and on-time delivery with fast track permitting means the region offers food manufacturing an unbeatable combination of assets.

Topeka is setting the bar high when it comes to training for advanced systems technology. Washburn Tech is leading the charge with innovative programs that work hand in hand with area companies to create customized training curriculums that meet the needs of today’s leading manufacturing companies. Graduates of these programs hit the ground running and create a much more efficient on-boarding process for new employees in the manufacturing industry.

Entrepreneurship in the professional and financial services is already happening in Topeka, a fact that speaks volumes about the region’s assets for back office operations and data centers. Blue Cross, as well as Security Benefit (a home grown success story) prove the market has the cost environment, infrastructure, and talent pool needed to thrive. Firms seeking educated, affordable labor willing to work non-traditional hours should look no further than students and graduates at neighboring universities. Low cost utilities, a stable business climate, and easy access to major markets, top off the many reasons why Topeka is an ideal location for professional and financial service companies.

Topeka is nestled in the middle of the U.S. with connectivity to five major highways allowing quick access to Interstates 70 and 335. Topeka is home to one of the top six longest air runways in the U.S. at 12,800 feet. It is located at Forbes Field in the South Topeka Economic Growth Corridor, which is still under capacity.

Connected by Highway 75, I-70, I-335, BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railway, Topeka is a natural location for companies looking to make transportation easy. Topeka’s strengths as a logistics and distribution hub have already proven to be invaluable to companies such as Target, Home Depot, Big Heart Pet Brands, Goodyear, Frito Lay and PTMW, who all have distribution centers in the community.

Topeka has the right combination of resources to make relocation or expansion quick and painless. Companies looking at expanding, relocating, or growing, need to come take a look at Topeka and see how locating here will help them have the competitive edge needed to compete in today’s market.