USDA moving hundreds of jobs to KC-area

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WASHINGTON (WIBW) — Hundreds of new jobs are coming to the Kansas City-area.

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture announced it plans to move its Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to the region.

“This is a significant win for Kansas and Missouri,” Gov. Laura Kelly said.

The USDA expects the move will bring approximately 550 jobs to the KC-area. The agency is currently evaluating multiple office properties in Kansas and Missouri.

“The decision today to move the USDA agencies to the Kansas City area is proof of the value of collaboration between our two states and our congressional delegation. When we all work together, we can accomplish a lot,” Kelly said.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called Kansas City a booming city in the heartland and a "hub for all things agricultural."

According to the USDA, the region offers a large pool of agricultural talent, citing the government facilities, including the Federal Reserve branch commonly referred to as the 'Ag Bank' already there.

“The vital research that will occur at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) and already occurs throughout the KC Animal Health Corridor makes Kansas City a natural fit. I am pleased that USDA recognizes the rich resources the heartland provides,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said.

The agency also point to the large agricultural research universities, like Kansas State University and the University of Kansas.

“The animal health corridor, stretching from Manhattan, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri, is the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, and Kansas is also the home of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility – and today’s decision further bolsters Kansas City’s status as a national leader in the ag industry," Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) said.

The move is expected to save the USDA nearly $300 million over the next 15 years in employment costs and rent. In addition, state and local governments are providing more than $26 million in incentives.

But. the Union of Concerned Scientists predicted the move will drive off researchers and called it "a blatant attack on science."

A union representing Economic Research Service employees said the move is "coldhearted" and called for keeping workers in Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.