Good morning, everyone. It’s incredible to be here today as we break ground on this state-of-the-art facility for Panasonic Energy.
Just a few months ago, I had one of the most exciting days of my entire administration. After months of working with bipartisan leaders to recruit a company respected throughout the world, I was finally able to announce that Panasonic Energy was coming to De Soto, Kansas.
And that soon, the company would build a massive electric vehicle battery plant, creating up to 4,000 jobs and investing up to $4 billion.
Now, finally, that day is here. We are breaking ground on the largest economic development project in our state’s history.
I could not be prouder, and I know everyone here feels the same way. Because there is absolutely no doubt: This project will be transformative for De Soto, the region, and the entire state of Kansas.
It will make Kansas a global leader in electric vehicle battery production. It will bring thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs to our state. And it will create an additional 4,000 jobs for suppliers and businesses throughout the region.
Suffice it to say July 13th was a great day, but November 2nd is an even better day because we are finally building this facility. There are so many people to thank for helping make this happen:
First, our partners at Panasonic Energy. It has been a pleasure to work with you all. Thank you so much for choosing to invest here in Kansas.
Next, our state leaders who worked across party lines to pass the legislation we needed to bring Panasonic home.
Thank you, also, to Consul General Tajima and our federal delegation, who helped strengthen our case to Panasonic.
And, of course, I want to thank our De Soto officials and regional economic development leaders for welcoming Panasonic home.
Around here, I’m known as the Education Governor, but there’s a pretty good case to be made that I’m the Jobs Governor, too, because I have made economic development a top priority since Day One.
Since the start of my administration, Kansas has attracted more than $14 billion in new investments by private sector businesses and has created and retained more than 53,000 jobs.
For back-to-back years, Kansas has attracted the most capital investment by businesses in the history of our state. As a result, we’ve won the coveted Gold Shovel award two years in a row and the 2021 Governor’s Cup for the most business investment per capita of any state in the nation.
We’ve worked hard to help Panasonic, and other companies build their futures here in Kansas.
Our historic investments in K-12 and higher education have supported a talent pipeline and outstanding workforce.
We’ve improved our roads, rail lines, and aviation systems to make Kansas the best place to get products to market quickly and efficiently.
And we’ve created a pro-business climate so every entrepreneur can achieve their dreams.
We’ve done a lot to boost economic development, but I want to tell a story that illustrates what those accomplishments mean for everyday Kansans.
This summer, a couple of weeks after the Panasonic announcement, Lieutenant Governor Toland received a phone call from a businessman in Kansas City, James Ketter. James offered his congratulations, but his real reason for calling was to find out how to get in touch with Panasonic’s HR team.
You see, James’ son, Ben, left the area to get his Ph.D. in battery technology at the University of Chicago.
Ben’s specific area of study is – and let me try to get this right – “quantitative thin film characterization of ion transport at the interfaces of polymer and ceramic solid electrolytes.”
I have no idea what any of that means, but I bet Panasonic’s engineers do.
James explained that he always assumed that his son would never return home because there wouldn’t be enough opportunities for him.
That is until Panasonic selected De Soto.
Now, there are opportunities for Ben closer to home. And we’ve been actively involved in ensuring these opportunities bring more young people to Kansas.
Very actively involved, I should say – maybe too involved. I know the Lieutenant Governor personally sent Ben’s resume to the Panasonic team. He’s probably agreed to serve as a reference and interview coach, too.
So, when I say that economic development in my administration is about people, this is what I mean. We are working to make it possible for Ben, and so many others like him, to stay in or come to Kansas.
We’re making it possible for them to live and raise their families here so that this state continues to grow for generations to come.
We will continue doing everything we can to attract great businesses here, create jobs, and grow our economy. Panasonic doesn’t represent the end of our economic development efforts. Far from it. We are just getting started.
Thank you, Panasonic Energy. Ad Astra Per Aspera!