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Kansas governor approves megaproject incentive package meant to woo secret company

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TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law Thursday a financial incentive package intended to woo a secret company that could bring billions of dollars to the state and thousands of new jobs.

The Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act, or APEX, looks to give Kansas the edge over competition in Oklahoma for the site of an unnamed company’s production plant. The project would bring 4,000 new jobs to Kansas and inject $4 billion in business investment into the state economy. 

The new program provides a refundable tax credit of up to 15% to be paid back over 10 years, payroll reimbursement of up to 7.5% and a relocation incentive fund.

“This positions Kansas to potentially land a once-in-a-generation opportunity that could transform our economy,” Kelly said. “This tool is about more than just one project. It makes us an economic powerhouse ready to compete on a national and global scale. That means thousands of new jobs, billions more business dollars injected into the economy, and more opportunities for Kansas families.”

The state Senate and House both approved the measure, despite pushback from some legislators on both sides of the aisle over the secrecy of the project and how quickly the act moved through the Legislature. However, supporters argued Kansas had to act quickly or risk losing out on another major economic opportunity.

The Department of Commerce has argued the state needs the program after whiffing in the past on 11 of these so-called megaprojects.

Estimates from nonpartisan legislative staff indicate the package would cost well over $1 billion, but an analysis by Wichita State University indicated the measure could eventually generate $2.5 billion annually in new economic activity. Lt. Gov David Toland, who also serves as commerce secretary, said the act would put Kansas on a level playing field with the rest of the country for these megaprojects. 

“The APEX bill gives us a realistic shot at winning large economic development projects that will bring huge business investment and job creation to our state,” Toland said. “We are excited about our chances with the current prospect that would be transformative for our state and deliver long-lasting benefits to Kansas.”

The act would sunset on May 1, 2024, and limits the number of agreements the state can reach to one per year. Additionally, APEX would cut the state’s 4% corporate income tax rate by 0.5% once per project.

Should the company leave the state 10 to 15 years after the deal, a claw back provision allows Kansas to recoup some of the financial investment. Any agreement or payout rate changes require approval from the State Finance Council.

That panel of leading lawmakers met Thursday to discuss the planned offer to the secret company.

“The passage of APEX is a win for communities across Kansas,” said Curtis Sneden, president of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “It’s time to show the nation that Kansas is ready to compete at a new, unprecedented level.” 

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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