Commerce Seceretary: More new Kansas jobs on the way

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WICHITA, Kan. -- The hundreds of new Kansas jobs announced this week may only be the beginning.

Kansas Secretary of Commerce Pat George said more business expansions and job announcements are coming, so Kansans will be hearing about more new job opportunities over the next month.

George credits Kansas law makers, who he said have worked to make Kansas a more business-friendly state.

Tuesday's announcement by AT&T that it will expand its Wichita workforce by 70 employees is just one of what George hopes will be several such announcements.

"We've been working on a number of projects and we'll have more announcements over the next 30 days," he said.

The past two days have carried announcements of planned expansions that will mean 300 new jobs at Creekstone Farms Premium Beef in Arkansas City, the 70 new AT&T jobs in Wichita and 50 new jobs at the Hostess Brands plant in Emporia.

George said the announcements he anticipates making soon could bring the statewide total to more than 1,000 new jobs. He credits Gov. Sam Brownback's push to reduce and eventually eliminate income tax with helping land the expansions.

Companies are also attracted by Kansas' transportation infrastructure and educated workforce, George said.

"Our infrastructure is great," he said. "We have great highways, our school system, our workforce, especially in manufacturing and advanced manufacturing."

George said Kansas is quickly becoming known nationally as one of the best workforces that enjoys strong state support for business. Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Plummer echoed that during Tuesday's AT&T announcement in downtown Wichita.

"Kansas has an outstanding reputation as a good place to do business and create new ideas," Plummer said.

In recent years, the Kansas Legislature has given the Department of Commerce the authority to negotiate incentive packages and other deals with companies looking to expand in or move to Kansas. George said that has proven to be a valuable tool that allows Kansas to work with companies' timelines rather than the state government's timeline.

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