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KC gets good review in Area Development

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Kansas City

Central location, infrastructure lure businesses to the Kansas City metro.

By Beth Mattson-Teig

The Kansas City metropolitan area has landed numerous expansion and relocation projects in recent years, ranging from a $50 million back-up data center for MasterCard International to a new $1.8 million operations center for Propak Logistics, reinforcing the area's growing reputation as one of the top regions in the country for corporate relocation or expansion.

Local, national, and international firms such as the French-owned Saint-Gobain Calmar are selecting Kansas City over other destinations in the United States and abroad. The manufacturer of fluid dispensing systems announced in February that it will relocate to a 260,000-sqare-foot facility in the Kansas City metro area. The company plans to consolidate three of its Calmar facilities currently operating in Lee's Summit, Mo., to a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Grandview, Mo.

Although Saint-Gobain Calmar explored other alternatives, including relocating its facility to Mexico, the company opted to maintain its presence in the Kansas City area. Two foremost deciding factors for Saint-Gobain Calmar were an attractive incentive package and the existing work force. "Local officials worked hard to put together various incentives," says Bill Seiberlich, a spokesperson for Saint-Gobain Calmar. "We also have a very good work force in Lee's Summit, the majority of which will move to the new Grandview facility, which was a big positive."

The Kansas City metro encompasses 2.2 million people, 18 counties, and 50 communities across Kansas and Missouri. The region is home to a diverse business base including several Fortune 500 firms such as Aquila Inc., Farmland Industries, H&R Block, Interstate Bakeries, and Sprint. Some of the key assets offered by the area include its central location, transportation network, telecommunications infrastructure, quality work force, and growing reputation in medical research, according to Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. Kansas City plays to those strengths in targeting industries such as telecommunications, distribution and logistics, manufacturing, and life sciences, among others.

Medical and Biotech

Kansas City is emerging as a powerful force in the life sciences arena. Over the years, the region has built a strong research base among its medical schools and hospitals, such as the University of Kansas Medical Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Health Sciences. However, what had been a moderate level of research and innovation received an enormous boost in 1999 with a $1.7 billion endowment from prominent local businessman Jim Stowers.

That endowment led to the creation of the Stowers Institute of Medical Research. "What the Stowers Institute has done for Kansas City is placed us, in a very short time, in a new tier for rapid life sciences research growth," says Ken Berlack, director of marketing for KCCatalyst, a nonprofit economic development group that supports life science and technology-based businesses in Greater Kansas City.

The endowment helped to spawn KCCatalyst and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI)

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