By Tim Chase, GWEDC President
A vital part of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition’s (GWEDC) mission is to help retain and expand local job growth. This week’s announcement about Reiloy Westland Corporation’s expansion demonstrates how GWEDC works with other agencies to ensure that well-paying manufacturing jobs don’t leave South Central Kansas. You can read more about those expansion plans in the company’s news release and the Wichita Eagle article.
Once the company determined the need for expansion, President Dave Larson considered moving the business from their current Sedgwick County location to the Chicago area. Larson said, “We’re landlocked at our current site, so we couldn’t consider staying at the Maize Road location. We needed to relocate our machinery and assets. The Chicago area was attractive to me for a variety of reasons. I’m from that area of the Midwest and Chicago is much closer to our company’s largest customers. Maize and other communities within the state of Kansas were considered and once they found out we were serious about moving, they were eager to partner with us. A number of communities offered us a variety of financial incentives to relocate, including a community that offered us a free building.”
While Larson ultimately attributes the company’s decision to stay within Sedgwick County to tax abatements, the impressive work ethic of his current team also played a role in the company’s decision. “The cooperation from various agencies made the tax abatements possible. And the skills and dedication of the workforce in this region are exceptional. We considered a lot of different options, but we just didn’t think we could ever replicate the strong work ethic we’ve experienced here.”
Larson also credited the local agencies that worked together on the project. Representatives from the city of Maize, K-96 Corridor Development Association, Sedgwick County, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC), and the state of Kansas all worked together to keep the company and its jobs in the region.
This was a tremendous opportunity to retain a solid area employer. It also helps us continue to diversify our region’s employment base, since this is a non-aviation manufacturer generating revenue from sales outside of Kansas.
Our congratulations to Reiloy Westland President, Dave Larson, and all the other agencies that assisted the company. I’d like to add my special thanks to our dedicated GWEDC staff who work diligently year-round on these projects. GWEDC Vice President of Business Development David Bossemeyer spent many hours assisting his contacts at Reiloy Westland Corporation with the documentation necessary to facilitate the use of the IRBs.
Reiloy Westland has some exciting plans for expanding their presence and foreign investment in our region and we look forward to continuing to work with them during the next five years.