Toland: Economic growth in Kansas means swinging for fences, asking hard questions
Kansas City Business Journal
August 9, 2021

  • Despite a pandemic and ensuing global recession, 2020 stood out as an eye-popping year for economic development in Kansas. Last year, the state closed 131 projects, creating 13,871 jobs and attracting more than $2.5 billion in capital investment — the highest amount since the Kansas Department of Commerce’s inception in 1986.
  • He [Lt. Governor Toland] attributed the record figures in part to a shift in Kansas’ focus, from moving jobs around the Kansas City metro to attracting net new growth from around the country and world, after Kansas agreed to end its economic border war with Missouri two years ago this month.
  • Key to these efforts, Toland said, was rebuilding the Commerce Department’s domestic recruitment and international trade teams during his time overseeing the office. The latter division was instrumental in securing the state’s largest 2020 project — a $600 million, 400,000-square-foot facility expansion in Salina by Schwan’s Co., which is majority owned by South Korean company CJ CheilJedang.
  • Of the potential volume of resulting projects, Toland teased, “There’s a lot of good things coming.”
  • In driving new residential and job growth to Kansas, Toland said Gov. Laura Kelly‘s administration has placed an emphasis on quality of life, undergirding factors like real estate, the tax structure, incentives, transportation and infrastructure. That focus, he said, puts the state at a competitive advantage compared with many others, as more companies roll out hybrid workforce models and remote employees contemplate moves from large coastal cities.