\ Topeka: Economy - Major Industries and Commercial Activity, Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Topeka: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Government and services comprise more than 50 percent of the metropolitan Topeka economy; total state, county, and city government employment accounts for almost one quarter of the work force, and more than 30 percent of area employees are on the service industry payroll. Nearly 15 percent of workers are employed in wholesale or retail trade. The construction and manufacturing industries made modest gains statewide amidst increasing demand for housing and aircraft production.

Fortune 500 companies that have established manufacturing or distribution facilities in Topeka include: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Frito-Lay, Inc., Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Payless Shoe Source, and Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Other principal industries located in Topeka include flour mills, printing and publishing companies, iron foundries, and food processing plants.

Items and goods produced: flour, dairy products, meats and poultry, pet foods, tires, tents, awnings, serum, steel fixtures, culverts, tanks, boxes and baskets, medicines, and steel jetties.

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

The state of Kansas and the city of Topeka offer a range of incentives for business expansion, including a state-maintained "first-stop clearinghouse," tax credits and exemptions, utility rate discounts, fee waivers, and loan assistance. Organizations such as Topeka-Shawnee County Development Corporation and Kansas Venture Capital, Inc. promote development in the metropolitan area. Expansion Management magazine recently ranked Kansas State's employment training programs among the top ten in the U.S. for ease of access and value to clients.

Local programs

Shawnee County recently implemented a quarter-cent sales tax that will support local economic development activities. The anticipated $20 million revenue over the next four years will be earmarked for job creation and investment incentives. The city or county may grant up to 10 years of property tax exemptions to companies that promote employment growth or private investment in the area. GO Topeka offers loans to small businesses and startups owned by women or minorities, as well as job training and counseling. Topeka's One-Stop Business Development Office provides advice, funding and training in affiliation with the Washburn University Small Business Development Center, SCORE, GO Connection Microloan Program, and Wakarusa Certified Development Inc. Downtown Topeka Inc. provides grants to businesses in the downtown area.

State programs

Kansas State offers corporate income tax credits based on job creation and capital investment and sales tax exemptions on equipment purchases or facility construction. The High Performance Incentive Program provides tax exemption, job training credits and matching funds for consulting fees to companies paying above-average wages or investing in workforce training or capital. Tax credits are also available to companies that conduct research, contribute to the community, provide day-care facilities to employees, or invest in accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Job training programs

The Kansas Industrial Training program offers pre-employment training or on-the-job training for new and expanding businesses. The Kansas Industrial Retraining Program is for restructuring companies where existing employees may be displaced due to obsolete skills. The Investments in Major Projects and Comprehensive Training Program (IMPACT) is for companies hiring a large number of employees at higher-than-average wages. Job training programs are available through agencies such as KAW Area Technical School and Topeka Technical College.

Development Projects

The Kansas State Capitol is undergoing a nine-year restoration at a projected cost of $138 million. Components of this massive effort include restoring the historical integrity of the limestone exterior and the marble and wood interior; transforming the virtually unused basement into office space, a cafeteria and a visitor's center; updating mechanical and electrical systems; and conserving murals and decorative painting. Work is likely to continue until 2009.

Target's $80 million distribution centre was recently completed, bringing more than 600 new jobs to the area. A $22 million manufacturing plant expansion is underway at Reser's Fine Foods. Goodyear Tire & Rubber is completing a $100 million plant upgrade. Washburn University will spend $10 million on a Student Recreation and Wellness Center and new student apartments. An $11 million project to restore Monroe School as the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education National Historic Site was completed in May 2004. Ramada Inn Downtown has been purchased by an investor group and will undergo a $2.5 million renovation. Forbes Field and Philip Billard airports are both in the midst of multi-million-dollar upgrades. Stormont-Vail Health-Care's new $35 million surgery center opened in 2004, replacing surgical facilities from the 1950s.

Economic Development Information: Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, 120 SE Sixth Street, Suite 110, Topeka, KS 66603-3515; telephone (785)234-2644; fax (785)234-8656

Commercial Shipping

Topeka is a shipping and distribution hub that links the corn-and wheat-growing region of northeastern Kansas and the cattle-producing states of the Southwest with markets throughout the country via an efficient transportation network. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Union Pacific, and St. Louis-Southwestern provide commercial rail service to the Topeka area; piggyback service is available within a 60-mile radius. More than 300 motor carriers serve the Topeka region. Two air carriers operate parcel and freight facilities at Forbes Field.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

According to the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the entrepreneurial spirit of Topeka residents dates back to 1842 when a group of enterprising settlers founded a ferry service across the Kansas River. Today, Topeka area residents are more educated than the national average; 88 percent have a high school diploma and more than 25 percent have a college degree or higher. Statewide, more than half of Kansas employees have taken advantage of on-the-job training opportunities.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Topeka metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 111,400

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 6,100

manufacturing: 8,000

trade, transportation and utilities: 20,900

information: 2,900

financial activities: 6,900

professional and business services: 8,400

educational and health services: 16,600

leisure and hospitality: 9,000

other services: 5,100

government: 27,600

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.57 (Kansas State)

Unemployment rate: 7.0% (February 2005)

Topeka: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
State of Kansas 8,612
Stormont-Vail HealthCare 3,100
Unified School District #501 2,270
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas 1,855
St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center 1,837
Payless Shoe Source 1,735
Goodyear Tire & Rubber 1,700
Washburn University 1,455
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway 1,100
Jostens Printing and Publishing 1,060

Cost of Living

According to the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, Topeka offers a "quality living experience at a below average cost."

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Topeka area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $200,589

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 92.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 3.5% to 6.45%

State sales tax rate: 5.3%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: city, 1.0%; county, 0.50%; Washburn University, 0.65%

Property tax rate: 141.24 mills per $1,000 of assessed value (2004)

Economic Information: Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, 120 SE Sixth Street, Suite 110, Topeka, KS 66603-3515; telephone (785)234-2644; fax (785)234-8656. State of Kansas, Department of Human Resources, Labor Market Information Services, 401 SW Topeka Blvd., Topeka, KS 66603; telephone (785)296-5058; fax (785)296-5286