When a company is looking for a new location that is perfect for transporting its goods to locations throughout the country, the smart choice is to look right in the middle. Kansas’ central location has made it a popular choice among manufacturing companies – and not just those in the aviation industry (though it is known as The Aviation Capital of the World).
Public Restroom Company, a family-owned and operated company that manufactures restrooms for outdoor parks and then ships them to locations across the U.S., recently selected a location in Kansas for its new manufacturing and distribution hub. The new facility will allow the company to cut down on freight costs and expand and meet the demands of the market.
The company was seeking an existing location for expansion that would allow them the logistical advantage of a central location with excellent access to broaden their customer base, as well as a strong workforce.
Public Restroom Company saw in Kansas what many other manufacturing companies have discovered – Kansas’ central location and excellent workforce are a great combination for any kind of company that manufactures and ships products in the U.S. and beyond.
Producing raw materials and finished goods, Kansas companies rely heavily on transportation modes for distribution of their products. Whether by highway, rail, air or water, Kansas’ central location and excellent infrastructure offer excellent transportation and distribution advantages for businesses.
Kansas’ highway and road infrastructure offers strategic advantages to shipping companies, with I-35 and I-29 creating the only central interstate highway corridor in North America. Kansas’ strategic location at the convergence of I-35 and I-70 places it literally at the crossroads of America and allows next-day freight delivery to nearly 85 percent of the U.S.
Trucks leaving Kansas can quickly and efficiently reach the international ports on either coast or the NAFTA trade partners to the north and the south.
Kansas’ 4,768 miles of total track ranks 6th in the nation. Approximately 20.5 million trucks would be needed to handle the 368.3 million tons of freight that originated in, terminated in, or moved through Kansas by rail in 2014.
Convenient access and direct routes to all national air service hubs is offered by airports strategically located across all regions of the state. There are 138 public use airports within the state, of which 131 are general aviation and seven commercial.
And 92.8 percent of the state’s population is located within 45 minutes of an airport with a runway greater than 5,000 feet.
Kansas is one of 19 states with ports accessible by the U.S. inland waterway system. Water freight in Kansas is transported primarily on river barges on the Missouri River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. The river runs along a 121-mile stretch through the northeast corner of Kansas. Seven water ports are utilized for loading barges in Atchison, Kansas City, Wolcott and White Cloud.
Kansans Are Ready to Work
While the south may have its charm, genuine “Kansas-friendly” is a real thing. Kansans are known for friendliness, hard-work and honesty. Channeling that deep well of human capital into a highly-trained workforce is a key role that the Kansas Department of Commerce plays.
The agency works with the Kansas Board of Regents, the state’s network of community and technical colleges, and the Kansas Department of Education, to collaborate in a strategic manner on filling the workforce needs of industry. The agencies work with industry to determine where the skills gaps exist and develop the mechanisms of training to provide the workers industries need to succeed.
Through the Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand (Workforce AID) program, qualifying companies pay 50 percent of employee training, and the state pays the remaining half. Companies partner with local community and technical colleges to develop training and certificate programs.
Workforce development officials are also underway with compelling initiatives directed toward transitioning military veterans to enter the overall workforce. Other KANSASWORKS programs exist to assist older adults, the disabled and those who have been incarcerated to get the training they need to find meaningful employment.
Key Industries in Kansas
- Advanced Manufacturing – While Kansas is known as “America’s Breadbasket, more people in Kansas work in manufacturing than in agriculture. Top companies like Cessna, Spirit Aerosystems and General Motors locate here because they know Kansas is a leader in supporting advanced manufacturing through education, business incentives and a positive business climate. Kansas leads the world in aviation manufacturing. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s embedded aviation fleet was manufactured in the state, where more than a quarter million aircraft have been produced since 1919. In addition, the GM plant in Kansas City, Kansas is consistently one of the company’s most productive assembly plants in North America.
- Alternative Energy – As a traditional agricultural leader and a state blessed with tremendous natural resources, Kansas is positioned to be a forerunner in renewable energy production. The state’s central location and excellent transportation infrastructure provide convenient and economical access for wind energy and bioenergy operations. Ranked second in the nation for wind energy potential, Kansas has vast opportunities to expand the wind generation that can be produced in this state.
- Bioscience – The science of living things – human, animal and plant – has long been a field in which Kansas has strengths. From the nationally-recognized drug discovery and development enterprise at University of Kansas and Kansas companies, to the state’s historical agricultural leadership, to the selection of Kansas as home to the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, Kansas is ripe for bioscience growth.
- Food Processing – Being a top producer of valuable commodities and raw materials naturally allows for Kansas’ leadership in value-added agricultural goods as well as a variety of finished foods and ingredients. Today, Kansas is home to literally hundreds of companies manufacturing food products, with such key names as Mars, Cargill, Frito Lay, Sara Lee, Reser’s, Tyson, Hostess, National Beef and Schwan’s.
- Logistics/Distribution – Transportation is critical for business success, and Kansas offers excellent highway, rail and air options. The state’s central location and focus on building and maintaining an outstanding infrastructure means it’s easier and cheaper to ship to and from Kansas. Key companies such as JC Penney, Amazon, Coleman, Home Depot, Foot Locker, Target and Walmart have all realized the logistical advantage of Kansas for distribution.
Many companies are discovering that Kansas, right in the middle of the U.S., is a great place to do business. Distribution dominance, friendly communities, quality of life and an educated workforce are just a few of its competitive advantages.
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