Wichita offers many advantages for headquarters operations, shared service and customer service centers
The two largest privately-held companies in the United States, Koch Industries and Cargill, have headquarters facilities in Wichita – encompassing human resources, information technology, engineering, logistics, accounting and auditing services, risk management, legal services, regulatory compliance, public affairs, marketing and business development capabilities.
Koch Industries, with $115 billion in annual revenue and 120,000 employees in 60 countries, has its 3,600-employee global headquarters at its Wichita campus. Koch is a diversified conglomerate involved in refining and chemicals, pollution control equipment, minerals, fertilizers, fibers and polymers, commodity and financial trading, and forest and consumer products. In December 2012, Koch announced construction of a new 210,000 square foot building -- since completed on its Wichita campus -- which has added hundreds of new jobs.
Cargill, with $120 billion in annual revenue and 150,000 employees worldwide, has a major subsidiary, Cargill Protein Group, headquartered in downtown Wichita (900 local employees.) Cargill Protein Group is a leading processor and distributor of beef, pork and poultry products for both the retail and food service markets.
Wichita hosts over a dozen customer service and processing centers – including Protection One (700 employees), T-Mobile (748) and Cox Communications (500). Much of the workforce is accustomed to shift work and has relatively neutral accent.
WSU’s Barton School of Business offers bachelors and masters programs in business and accounting that are fully accredited by AACSB-International. Barton School is one of only 165 schools globally to hold both AACSB business and accounting accreditation – placing it in the top 12% of business schools worldwide. Persons recruited or transferred to Kansas for a full-time job qualify for immediate resident tuition at state universities, as do spouses and dependents residing with them (no 12-month residency requirement.) Contact the Wichita State University Registrar regarding required documentation.
Wichita public schools incorporate workplace skill standards into curriculum and graduation requirements. In April 2000, Wichita voters approved (by a 2-to-1 margin) a $284 million school bond issue to fund new school buildings, modernization and expansion of existing schools and enhanced student computer facilities. The funding also provided for installation of air conditioning in every school facility. In November 2008, voters approved a $370 million bond issue to add 275 new classrooms, 6 new schools and 60 storm shelters. In addition, the funding paid for upgrades to technical education programs and renovations to athletic and fine arts facilities. Wichita also offers first-rate K-12 private and parochial schools. Approximately 7,800 high school graduates are produced annually in the Wichita metro area. Metro area workforce availability is enhanced by healthy population growth. Metro population grew by 64,771 persons or 11.2% from 2000 to 2015. Sedgwick County (pop. 511,574) is the central metro county – with projected 2035 population of 582,000. McConnell Air Force Base borders southeast Wichita – adding about 2,000 spouses of military personnel to the labor pool. The base also produces about 500 local military discharges annually – personnel with diverse skills and disciplined work ethic. Wichita area pay scales represent good value. The most recent federal statistic (2015) for Wichita metro average annual pay is $44,614 – that is $8,323 or 16% below the national metro area average of $52,937.
Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas offers a one-stop system to match job seekers and employers – including comprehensive testing and assessment. This turn-key service provides qualified applicants to new or expanding businesses.
Construction and Occupancy Costs
Wichita’s July 2016 Means Commercial Construction Cost Index was 90.2 – nearly 10% below national average. Wichita area Class A office space asking rent averages $17.32 per sq ft per year – versus the national metro average of $28.97 (Q1-2015.)
Legal and Regulatory Environment
Kansas offers one of the nation’s best business climates. The most recent (2015) Pacific Research Institute 50-State Small Business Regulation Index ranked Kansas #4 among the 50 states (1 = best.) PRI cited low regulatory burden, low litigation, etc. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform 2015 State Liability Systems Study ranked Kansas as having one of the nation’s most business-friendly litigation environments. Kansas ranked #19 (1 = best.) Pollina Corporate Real Estate 2015 report ranked Kansas #5 among the top 10 pro-business states. Area Development awarded Kansas its Silver Shovel award in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016; and its Gold Shovel award in 2013 -- for job creation and investment projects – citing few regulatory obstacles.
Kansas is one of only eight constitutional Right-To-Work states. There is virtually no union activity among Wichita area private sector office employers. Kansas is an "at will" employment state with no unusual restrictions such as business telephone monitoring laws.
Business equipment newly purchased, leased or moved into Kansas is property tax exempt – applying equally to manufacturing equipment and office business equipment, furniture and fixtures. Business personal property items under $1,500 original purchase price are property tax exempt regardless of acquisition date. Kansas Corporate Franchise Tax has been phased out entirely.
Wichita hosts three competing local fiber optic networks (Cox Business Services, Level 3 Communications, AT&T.) Virtually all commercial areas of Wichita are equipped with fiber. In the rare case that fiber is not already installed, installation times are typically only 1 to 2 weeks. There have been no significant service disruptions over the past five years – certainly none area-wide or even localized for more than a few seconds. The vast majority of fiber optic cable is in protective underground conduit. A few very brief outages have been caused by unauthorized digging – which occurs in any metro area. All three networks have redundancy and nearly instantaneous automatic rerouting in the event of a break or malfunction – so downtime is virtually zero. All providers are in the utility “One-Call” program that “diggers” are legally obligated to contact prior to excavating.
Westar Energy’s average commercial electricity rate is 8.17 cents per Kilowatt hour – versus national average of 10.27 cents. Wichita area electric power is extremely reliable (99.976% uptime) and outages are almost always in non-commercial areas.