LOCATION FOCUS: Kansas – Diversification From The Ground Up

By Shana Daley
From the January/February 2013 issue

Kansas offers a diverse economy perfect for your business. Building from an agribusiness base, the state today is thriving and competitive in manufacturing, professional services and wholesale and retail trades. International companies like Mars, Caterpillar, AMC Theatres, Cerner, Teva, Rubbermaid, Spirit Aerosystems and Cargill all have a Kansas address because they saw the advantages:

  • Competitive financial incentives
  • Low operating costs and low cost of living
  • Business-friendly policies
  • Leaders who know business
  • Highly skilled and educated workforce
  • Excellent transportation corridors

Strengthened efforts to grow business in Kansas are paying off, and we’re seeing a surge in key industries, such as Alternative Energy, Distribution, Bioscience and Advanced Manufacturing. Our state’s leadership is innovative and forward thinking, continuing to approve new programs to help promote our state for existing as well as targeted new industries.

The Business Recruitment Team for the Kansas Department of Commerce can assist you with various site location needs. Whether you’re seeking buildings or sites, our team has the resources and information to help you make an informed decision. Our Business Recruitment Team creates customized incentive proposals for clients based on capital investment, job creation, employee salaries and each company’s unique needs. We also coordinate with community economic development professionals for local incentives such as discounted building and land purchases, reduced property taxes, build-to-suit agreements and finance packages. All types of assistance offered for new company locations are also available for subsequent expansions.

Effective Tax Year 2013, certain Kansas businesses will enjoy significant tax relief. Kansas passed a business income tax exemption which eliminates certain non-wage business income on lines 12, 17 and 18 of IRS Form 1040 for Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, Limited Liability Partnerships, Sole Proprietorships and Subchapter-S Corporations that have elected at the federal level to be taxed as a pass-through entity.

Take a look at Kansas. You’ll like what you see.


Groundbreaking at the 800-acre Sunflower Commerce Park
Groundbreaking at the 800-acre Sunflower Commerce Park

Bel Aire city leaders and partners are moving full speed ahead on Phase 1 of Sunflower Commerce Park. The city is developing the first 155 acres of the 800-acre industrial park as “shovel-ready” for companies to begin building.

The first tenant, Century Manufacturing, purchased three acres in July and is building a 36,000 square-foot building to house its growing manufacturing, warehousing and office space needs. According to Jim Laubach of Century Manufacturing, the new building is expected to open in January.

“This is a great day for Bel Aire, and we are excited to be moving forward with shovel-ready land in our community and in Sedgwick County,” said Mayor Harold Smith. “We know how important speed is to companies in today’s competitive world, and we are ready to meet their needs. Bel Aire is open for business.”

The first phase of the Sunflower Commerce Park is platted with 3 to 15 acre lots, which can be combined to make larger tracts. The entire 800 acres is designed for a variety of sizes with the potential for a 100-acre lot, if needed. Running through the tract is a Union Pacific industrial line which is ready for more use. Bel Aire is currently designing a rail siding on the north side with a spur possible on the south side.

Bel Aire worked with Law Kingdon, TranSystems and Schwab Eaton on master planning, various studies and infrastructure planning required, including engineering, soil survey, geotechnical assessment report, the first phase environmental assessment and more. Utilities, including power electrical and gas lines plus water and sewer lines, will be in place ready to connect with tenants.

Sedgwick County has partnered to pave 45th and 53rd streets to the site.

“Sedgwick County provides infrastructure throughout the County, and we are pleased to work closely with Bel Aire on this particular project,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh, “Bel Aire has expanded the usability of this great property and planned for a business-friendly community. They are laying the groundwork for economic growth which in turn improves the County’s economy.”

Located between Webb and Greenwich roads and 53rd and 45th streets, Sunflower Commerce Park has transportation access that many companies desire, including connections to U.S. Highway 254 and Kansas Highway 96 and close to interstates 35, 135 and 235 interchanges.

The site is also adjacent to the Jabara Airport campus.

“There are so many selling points, including the proximity to the National Institute of Aviation Research and the National Center for Aviation Training,” Mayor Smith said. “We look forward to working with companies to meet businesses’ needs.”

As the first tenant, Century Manufacturing employs about 30 people, and the company anticipates growing to 50 in two years.

Over the past eight years, Bel Aire invested $12 million in infrastructure and land in Sunflower Commerce Park. Bel Aire is selling the land at $25,000 an acre, plus special assessments.

Downtown Topeka
Downtown Topeka


Do you think your company’s expectations are too high? Do you have questions about how to make your company’s plans for relocation or expansion work? Well, in Topeka and Shawnee County we pride ourselves on answering, “We Can Do That!”

Topeka and Shawnee County offers a wealth of resources and assets to our existing companies and companies looking to relocate or expand. Whether it’s through a pipeline of highly educated workers or energy costs 18 percent lower than the national average, our community has something for every company.

To get you started, we have:

  • 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 ten-year property tax exemption on real property for qualified companies.
  • Infrastructure that allows for goods shipped by truck to reach 25 percent of the U.S. in one day and 90 percent by two.

Shovel-ready land next to some great neighbors is waiting for the next company that is looking to grow. If sustainable business practice is part of your corporate philosophy, you’ll appreciate the green initiatives at the new 1,000-acre Kanza Fire Commerce Park. Developed by Topeka and Shawnee County, this progressive commerce park focuses on sustainable design in the ideal logistical hub. Already home to Mars Chocolate North America, Kanza Fire offers mixed-use land parcels ideal for manufacturing and distribution. And with complete infrastructure installed, your business can be up and running quickly.

Not only is land available and ready to develop, we work with local officials to make sure companies can transition quickly and smoothly into their new homes. But we don’t stop once you’re settled in. We have programs in place to help businesses continue to grow, with incentives for expansion and dedicated people working to ensure Topeka and Shawnee County remains one of the most business-friendly environments in the nation.

With unparalleled educational opportunities nearby and a thriving business community, Topeka offers exceptional human capital. The adults in Topeka and Shawnee County have done their homework; 36.6 percent of adults in the area hold a Bachelor’s degree compared to 24.4 percent nationally. The four universities within a 60-mile radius have a combined enrollment of 63,000 and over 13,500 graduates per year. State tax incentives also help with continuing education and workforce training.

While other communities stumbled, Topeka and Shawnee County announced new projects involving over 3,400 new and retained jobs and $718 million in capital investments since 2009.

The diverse set of industries in Topeka and Shawnee County has helped the economy in the area stay fairly well insulated during the recent economic downturn. With large company headquarters and small start-ups, there has been steady growth, especially in the manufacturing industry. Here’s how you get more bang for your buck:

  • Our cost of doing business is 15 percent lower than the national average.
  • Our 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.

These factors were some of the reasons we were able to attract large companies like Target, Home Depot and Mars Chocolate North America. We also continue to be home to other large companies like Frito-Lay, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Del Monte, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and many others. Having these corporate citizens as a part of the Topeka and Shawnee Count community has helped provide a stable quality of life throughout the Topeka and Shawnee County area.