Kansas governor approves megaproject incentive package meant to woo secret company

By: - February 10, 2022 5:58 pm

Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act, or APEX, aimed at giving Kansas the edge over competition for the site of an unnamed company’s production plant. The project would bring 4,000 new jobs to Kansas and inject $4 billion in business investment into the state economy. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law Thursday a financial incentive package intended to woo a secret company that could bring billions of dollars to the state and thousands of new jobs.

The Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act, or APEX, looks to give Kansas the edge over competition in Oklahoma for the site of an unnamed company’s production plant. The project would bring 4,000 new jobs to Kansas and inject $4 billion in business investment into the state economy. 

The new program provides a refundable tax credit of up to 15% to be paid back over 10 years, payroll reimbursement of up to 7.5% and a relocation incentive fund.

“This positions Kansas to potentially land a once-in-a-generation opportunity that could transform our economy,” Kelly said. “This tool is about more than just one project. It makes us an economic powerhouse ready to compete on a national and global scale. That means thousands of new jobs, billions more business dollars injected into the economy, and more opportunities for Kansas families.”

The state Senate and House both approved the measure, despite pushback from some legislators on both sides of the aisle over the secrecy of the project and how quickly the act moved through the Legislature. However, supporters argued Kansas had to act quickly or risk losing out on another major economic opportunity.

The Department of Commerce has argued the state needs the program after whiffing in the past on 11 of these so-called megaprojects.

Estimates from nonpartisan legislative staff indicate the package would cost well over $1 billion, but an analysis by Wichita State University indicated the measure could eventually generate $2.5 billion annually in new economic activity. Lt. Gov David Toland, who also serves as commerce secretary, said the act would put Kansas on a level playing field with the rest of the country for these megaprojects. 

“The APEX bill gives us a realistic shot at winning large economic development projects that will bring huge business investment and job creation to our state,” Toland said. “We are excited about our chances with the current prospect that would be transformative for our state and deliver long-lasting benefits to Kansas.”

The act would sunset on May 1, 2024, and limits the number of agreements the state can reach to one per year. Additionally, APEX would cut the state’s 4% corporate income tax rate by 0.5% once per project.

Should the company leave the state 10 to 15 years after the deal, a claw back provision allows Kansas to recoup some of the financial investment. Any agreement or payout rate changes require approval from the State Finance Council.

That panel of leading lawmakers met Thursday to discuss the planned offer to the secret company.

“The passage of APEX is a win for communities across Kansas,” said Curtis Sneden, president of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “It’s time to show the nation that Kansas is ready to compete at a new, unprecedented level.” 

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Noah Taborda
Noah Taborda

Noah Taborda started his journalism career in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, covering local government and producing an episode of the podcast Show Me The State while earning his bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Noah then made a short move to Kansas City, Missouri, to work at KCUR as an intern on the talk show Central Standard and then in the newsroom, reporting on daily news and feature stories.