3 Cities to Watch
Source: U. S. Department of Labor
Neil Pierson is editor of Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition.
Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of this past March, the Kansas unemployment rate was 3. 8 percent,
below the national average of 4. 5 percent. It was the first time the state
had an unemployment rate below 4 percent since January 2001, the
U.S. Department of Labor said. The Center for Economic Development
and Business Research, based at Wichita State University, estimated
Kansas would add more than 12,500 jobs this year, an increase of nearly
1 percent. The fastest-growing sectors were expected to be professional and business services; financial activities; education and health
services; and transportation and utilities.
The Kansas City metro area is experiencing an employment-growth rate
significantly higher than the statewide figure, with employment rising
2.7 percent year over year as of this past February. Professional and business services seem to be fueling a good share of the expansion, posting
a 4. 5 percent bump for the period, compared to the national gain of
3 percent, according to labor figures.
State legislation in 2004 helped to create the Kansas Bioscience Authority
(KBA), which has made the state a haven for agribusiness and life-science
jobs. More than 16,000 people are employed in the industry, the Kansas
Department of Commerce said. The state is roughly equidistant to every
point in the country, making it advantageous for transporting goods.
Among recent accomplishments, the KBA has funded diagnostic technology to keep livestock healthier and provided startup funding for what is
now a major manufacturer of biodegradable and compostable plastics.
The Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, which stretches from Manhattan,
Kansas, east to Columbia, Missouri, is home to more than 300 companies
related to animal health and accounts for 56 percent of worldwide animal
health, diagnostics and pet-food sales, according to the corridor’s website.
With a population of about 128,000, the Kansas capital is located an
hour’s drive west of downtown Kansas City. It’s the home of Wash-burn University, a highly regarded college of about 7,000 students.
The Kansas Chamber of Commerce is in Topeka and touts the state’s
natural resources, economic-development tools, education system
and highways. Topeka’s major employers include Blue Cross and Blue
Shield of Kansas, BNSF Railway and Goodyear.
Sources: The Associated Press, Center for Economic Development and Business
Research, History.com, J.P. Weigand & Sons, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas
City Animal Health Corridor, Kansas City Business Journal, Kansas City Star, Kansas
Department of Agriculture, Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Heritage Group,
Kansas Historical Society, Los Angeles Times, NAI Martens, National Park Service, NPR,
Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, University of Kansas Athletics, U. S. Census
Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor, Wichita Eagle
Located in the southwest corner of the greater Kansas City metro area
in Johnson County, this city of 52,000 is solidly middle class. The median
household income of $76,000 is well above the national average of
$53,900, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the cost of a home
is generally low — some $62,000 less countywide than the national
average for a 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom home, according to the
Lenexa Chamber of Commerce.
With 186,000 residents, Lenexa’s next-door neighbor is the state’s
second-largest city. A variety of consumer and trade publications have
lauded Overland Park as one of the happiest and healthiest places in
America, as well as a good place to work, purchase a first home or retire.
The city grew 20 percent from 2000 to 2015 and is home to large
employers like Sprint, Black & Veatch, OptumRx and CenturyLink.