The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition said Friday that in 2010 it facilitated the creation or retention of 5,439 jobs and successfully closed on expansion, retention or recruitment projects for 13 companies representing more than $107 million in capital investment in Wichita and Sedgwick County.
"Let me just say it was one heck of a year," Vicki Pratt Gerbino, GWEDC president, said at the group's annual meeting and report to investors at the Beech Activity Center.
Those efforts resulted in a 388 percent return on public investment, said Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. That means, Hill said, that for every $1 of money invested by the city and county, it creates a return of $3.88 in a 10-year period. That's based upon today's dollars and the information GWEDC provided the center, he said.
The coalition is a public-private partnership managed by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce that is tasked with retaining and recruiting companies.
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Gerbino said during her presentation that most of the projects were aerospace-related, including assisting in efforts to retain most of Hawker Beechraft's operations and Bombardier Learjet's decision to add the Learjet 85 business jet assembly here. Those two projects alone represented 4,300 retained jobs, 300 new jobs and capital investment of $69.2 million.
The other companies with which GWEDC assisted in 2010 were: Spartech Corp., Cargill Innovation Center, Martin Interconnect Services, Nex-Tech Processing, Chrome Plus International, TECT Power, Samtech, Mojack Distributors, Hiller, Buchanan Technologies and Apex Engineering International.
The meeting also included a presentation by Ron Pollina, president of Pollina Corporate Real Estate, a national site selection consultancy.
Pollina, whose firm annually produces the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro Business States report, noted that between 2006 and 2010 Kansas has been in the rankings four times.
As of late, most of the top 10 states have been in the Plains region, he said.
The "low-hanging fruit" in economic development has been retaining — not recruiting — companies.
"Keeping those companies happy," he said, should be the priority for states.
That's most effectively accomplished by incentive programs, which he cautioned should not be cut as states wrestle with budget deficits. Nowadays states are competing not only against each other in recruiting and retaining companies, but also against countries.
"Incentive programs are really the things that level the playing field" against international competition, he said.