Wichita could exhale upon learning Tuesday that Cargill’s protein business headquarters would relocate locally, in a decision that boosts the city’s economic fortunes while strengthening the bond between the global company and Kansas.
Wichita also could take pride in Cargill’s stated reasons for staying, which are as basic as the city’s people, work ethic, and sense of community and values.
These assets aren’t going anywhere either, making Tuesday’s economic-development win a fine foundation for more.
The announcement at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce ended the painful suspense that started in late March, when Minneapolis-based Cargill announced its plans to seek a less-traditional alternative to its office building at 151 N. Main – someplace that could put employees under one roof and help “attract millennials and younger people.”
After the losses of Boeing Co. and thousands of aviation jobs since the 2008 downturn, it was no leap to imagine Cargill leaving town as well.
But as described Tuesday, the city, the Greater Wichita Partnership and state government responded with laudable speed and coordination, trying to ensure that Cargill’s needs could be met.
Wichita was able to prevail in a process that included consideration of possible sites in Texas and Colorado, according to Brian Sikes, corporate vice president for Cargill’s protein group.
“We chose Wichita because we believe we will thrive here,” Sikes said Tuesday.
The selection of a location for a new facility is pending, and the details of public incentives have yet to be revealed.
But the decision ensures Wichita will remain the headquarters for Cargill’s beef, turkey, cooked meat, value-added protein services and food distribution businesses. It’s also home to the Cargill Innovation Center downtown and a soybean processing operation at 13th and Mosley.
Wichita obviously did not want to lose Cargill’s jobs, and the opportunity to benefit as the protein group grows. Cargill’s choice also confirms it will continue to be a crucial community partner. It’s given more than $5 million to charities in the city in the past five years, Sikes said, as well as more than $1 million to Kansas State University for agricultural research in recent years. Its local workforce stands out for volunteerism and generosity.
Congratulations and praise are due Gov. Sam Brownback and Mayor Jeff Longwell for their personal involvement in the successful effort.