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Economic development continues to happen throughout Kansas, and recently, those efforts were rewarded.

Friday, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Kansas has garnered Area Development Magazine’s coveted Gold Shovel Award for the fourth year in a row. The latest accolade – without precedent in state history – reflects the economic development success the state has experienced under the Kelly Administration.

“Earning a fourth Gold Shovel underscores the work my administration is doing to attract business investment and increase job opportunities to continue making Kansas the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” Gov. Kelly noted in a release from the State of Kansas. “The influx of jobs in every corner of the state is providing the possibilities for young Kansans to start or expand their careers right here at home. Since the start of 2019, Kansas has created 1,180 new economic development projects worth more than $19 billion in private sector investment and created and retained more than 67,000 jobs statewide.”

Kansas was recognized for its achievement in attracting high-value investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs throughout the state. In 2023, there were 255 projects totaling almost $3.1 billion in private sector investment and nearly 12,000 jobs created or retained, the State of Kansas release noted, with the single largest project being Building Materials Manufacturing Corporation’s $350 million facility in Newton.

“After years of decline – and Kansans fleeing to other states in search of economic opportunity – the Kelly-Toland Administration has Kansas back on a path of growth,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland noted in the State of Kansas release. “Kansans in every region of our state deserved greater opportunities, and we needed a strategic plan to breathe life back into our communities. This fourth consecutive Gold Shovel is proof that our plan, the Kansas Framework for Growth, is working. Kansas has jumped from the middle of the pack to the top of the heap, establishing a new normal as a nationally recognized economic powerhouse. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure an even brighter future.”

The Framework for Growth, developed in partnership with communities, businesses, education institutions, and economic development stakeholders, focuses on five target sectors:

• Advanced Manufacturing

• Aerospace

• Distribution, Logistics and Transportation

• Food and Agriculture

• Professional and Technical Services

These target sectors emphasize Commerce’s focused, purposeful approach to economic development. 90 percent of the business successes announced during the Kelly-Toland administration came from one of the target sectors.

Area Development Magazine is a publication for economic development executives involved with corporate site selection and relocation. Five states were awarded the prestigious Gold Shovel in their respective population categories, with Kansas leading the list of the states with fewer than 3 million residents.

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