New economic development strategy aims to increase Kansas’ growth

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The governor said it has been more than three decades since Kansas last had an economic development strategy. Now the Department of Commerce is saying it’s time for a new plan.

“Any business has a business plan, and the Department of Commerce needs to be the same way,” said Commerce Secretary David Toland.

The plan is called the Kansas Framework for Growth.

The economy is growing, but some say it’s not doing as well as other states. Toland hopes this plan will fix that.

“Figure out how we tweak some of our public policies and some of our programs so that we can have faster growth, and growth not just in urban and suburban centers but also in rural areas,” Toland said.

Rural agriculture is a large part of the economy, but many are saying it could use some help.

“We’re seeing a large part of our workforce leave the family farm and go to the more urban areas,” said Ronald Seeber, president of the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association. “So where the state of Kansas can help is look for different ways to incentivize a workforce development program for rural Kansas.”

Many factors can impact agricultural jobs, like trade and weather, but the state can help rural Kansas in some areas like better internet access and more incentives.

“What the state of Kansas can do is communicate with them, see what their problems are, see how the state and its different fiscal policies and tax policies can help them thrive,” said Seeber.

Toland said all parts of the economy will be considered, and the plan needs to determine what other areas can the state do better in.

“The aviation sector is strong, the ag sector is strong,” said Toland. “There’s some areas that we have real potential for growth, such as logistics, with the intermodal in Edgerton and our geographic position in the United States.

An outside group has been hired to determine some of the best practices. Business leaders and Department of Commerce staff will guide how the development of the plan is put into place.

The plan should guide the state’s growth for the next 10 years.

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