Wichita Might Get Second Chance To Land Big Business Expansion

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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North Carolina has reason to celebrate after landing 460 new, high paying jobs. Reports say North Carolina's good fortune came at Wichita's expense.

But city leaders say Wichita could get a second chance to land an expansion project with the same company.

NetApp is a Fortune 500 company with locations in eight states, including here in Wichita. Its North Carolina location just won a huge expansion project but city leaders tell us Wichita isn't out of the running yet and we could see some growth right here too.

“NetApp has agreed to expand their RTP footprint by creating 460 new jobs,” North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue announced at a news conference.

It's great news for people looking for work in North Carolina. The state reportedly won over data management company NetApp with a multimillion dollar incentive package.

Just after the announcement, several news sources reported North Carolina, narrowly beat out one other competitor: Wichita, Kansas.

We asked Wichita’s Director of Economic Development Allen Bell about the NetApp deal. He told us he can't talk about companies that decide not to build in Wichita. But city councilman Pete Meitzner believes Wichita might still have a shot at landing a NetApp expansion.

“NetApp's a really good company and I know they’re looking at a big expansion in the U.S. and we are one of the finalists and I see it as very encouraging, it would be some very good higher tech jobs,” Councilman Pete Meitzner said.

Just to give you an idea of the type of jobs NetApp could bring to the table, of the 460 new jobs North Carolina will get; the average salary is $100,000.

While Allen Bell can't get into specifics about which companies have passed on Wichita, he did tell us it happens all the time because the competition is steep.

“And if you don't have the right kind of sites and you don't have the right kind of incentives to offer, than you get eliminated,” Bell said.

In an attempt to be more competitive, this week the city council passed a revised incentive policy to meet the changing needs of companies looking to expand.

We did try to get bell to spill on whether NetApp is still interested, he wouldn't budge but did say there are some big companies looking our way.

“We hope to be successful with as many of them as possible and this policy will help,” Bell said.

We called both the national and local NetApp branches and so far our calls haven't been returned.

One thing everyone we talked with today told us, is that whenever there's a possible big business deal in the works; everyone stays pretty secretive on the details.

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