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Kansas awarded Gold Shovel award for economic development

Gov. Laura Kelly (WIBW)
Gov. Laura Kelly (WIBW)(WIBW)
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 11:32 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas has been honored for its economic development excellence by receiving the Gold Shovel award from Area Development magazine.

Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas has been awarded for its commitment to excellence in economic development. She said Area Development magazine’s coveted Gold Shovel award for 2021, which is the highest award given to a state, was given to Kansas on Thursday.

“This Gold Shovel Award proves that even in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic, Kansas can compete and win to recruit jobs and businesses across the globe,” Governor Kelly said. “This award would not have happened without the strategic investments we have made since 2019 including fully funding our schools, starting more than 130 infrastructure projects, and expanding high-speed internet access –  because business development is not possible without a strong foundation. In addition to the Gold Shovel Award, last year we broke the record for new business dollars invested in Kansas, and we are poised to break that record again in 2021.”

According to Gov. Kelly, the annual award recognizes States for bringing in high-value investment projects, which create huge numbers of new jobs in communities. After winning Silver Shovel awards, she said the State has now collected the more prestigious Gold Shovel. Since 2019, she said the state has seen about $6 billion in new business dollars invested in Kansas and almost 26,000 jobs.

“We have a new way of doing business in Kansas, and we’re getting results,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “Kansas has set the standard for growth and recovery in the wake of COVID-19. We’ve applied our proven approach to attracting new businesses, and it’s led to one of the most successful capital investment streaks in the history of our state. This is what happens when an administration is serious about building a strong economy.”

Gov. Kelly said as Kansas’ leading economic development agency, the Kansas Dept. of Commerce works to help businesses and communities grow in Kansas. She said all business success submitted for the Gold Shovel award was supported by KDOC’s business recruitment team.

“This award is proof that Governor Kelly’s priorities are right for Kansas,” said Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt. “While Republican leaders try to resurrect the failed Brownback-Colyer model, Governor Kelly continues to protect our economy by blocking their job-killing bills, breaking records for new business dollars invested in our state, and creating thousands of new jobs.” 

“I am entirely unsurprised to hear we have won the Gold Shovel Award. Kansas has seen incredible development since 2019, all of which enables community investment and economic growth. This is an encouraging award to receive; we have only just begun. It is exciting to think of the future possibilities Kansans will have and the recognition our state will continue to receive for our innovative solutions,” said House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer. “After her election, Governor Kelly went straight to work for the people and this is proof that her sharp, thoughtful leadership is not only effective but outstanding. I’m sure she will continue to support the right economic conditions for ongoing growth in Kansas, from southwest to northeast and everywhere in between.”

According to Gov. Kelly, the Dept. of Commerce worked with economic development organizations and partners throughout Kansas to choose a sample of successful projects to submit for the award she said the top projects are as follows:

  • Schwan’s Company - $600 million total capital, 225 new jobs, Salina
  • Urban Outfitters, Inc. - $403 million total capital, 1,734 new jobs, Kansas City
  • Pretzels, LLC - $88 million total capital, 281 new jobs, Lawrence
  • Amazon.com - $75 million total capital, 750 new jobs, Kansas City
  • Amazon.com - $75 million total capital, 700 new jobs, Park City
  • Kubota North America Corp./Great Plains Manufacturing Inc. - $53 million, 130 new jobs, Salina
  • Nor-Am Logistics South LLC - $44.8 million total capital, 50 new jobs, Dodge City
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific Company, LLC - $40 million total capital, 300 new jobs, Lenexa
  • Amazon.com - $30 million total capital, 200 new jobs, Shawnee

“This award comes as no surprise to those of us who have been following the record-breaking efforts of Governor Kelly’s administration,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes. “After years of economic sabotage in our state by the previous administration, Governor Kelly and Lieutenant Governor Toland have righted the ship and made it clear: Kansas is open for business. I am grateful for their tireless work which will ensure our state is poised for strong growth in the coming years.”

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