The Kansas economy has had a big year. Winning its second consecutive Golden Shovel Award, the state is truly seeing the fruits of its labor after passing the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act and cementing its reputation as a centrally located, business-friendly environment with a large, talented workforce.
The business payoff was particularly bountiful in and around the Little Apple. After announcing more than $1 billion worth of planned capital investment in October, the Greater Manhattan area continued to welcome entities eager to put down roots and claim a piece of the “Little Apple pie”: a vibrant, interconnected hub of public and private innovation in an all-around great place to live.
The time is ripe for economic advancement in the region, and here are the 10 sweetest developments of 2022 (in random order).
Please note: Scorpion Biological Services changed its name to Scorpius Biomanufacturing in January 2023.
Scorpion Biological Services will soon join the Biosecurity Research Institute and the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in the area, which is often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Biodefense.” The new manufacturing facility will add as many as 500 new jobs to the area, for which the company is currently hiring.
The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility has emerged over the years step by meticulous step, each necessary to meet the most rigorous and uncompromising of standards. Construction was completed last spring, and September found NBAF near the end of its facility commissioning (testing) process. The biosafety level 4 facility expects to begin testing work processes in early 2023, after which it will confirm laboratory setup, test equipment and undergo facility and personnel inspection by the Federal Select Agent Program.
The main reason behind the region’s enviable talent pool is the quality and quantity of the available education and training. In addition to Kansas State University and the U.S. Army installation at Fort Riley, Manhattan Area Technical College continuously churns out skilled individuals who are eager to begin their careers. In August, WalletHub named MATC the fourth best community college in the nation.
The Edge Collaboration District, a commercial office and research co-location area adjacent to K-State’s main campus and NBAF, continued its forward trajectory with the construction of a Kansas Department of Agriculture lab and a Stormont Vail Medical Campus. The lab alone is expected to create more than 160 jobs and a 20-year economic impact of $40 million. The medical campus will not only benefit the community, but also strengthen K-State through a partnership in which students can complete clinical rotations for K-State’s new physician assistant program and gain hands-on experience using a state-of-the-art simulation lab that’s funded in part by Stormont Vail.
The Edge, Kansas’ most comprehensive economic development district, is poised to bring 5,000 new jobs and $5 billion in economic investment and infrastructure to the region by 2035.
It’s the age of the semiconductor, and local manufacturer Radiation Detection Technologies needed a place to expand their operations and kick production into high gear. Citing the region's supportive business environment and available talent, RDT decided “there’s no place like home” and selected a site in Pottawatomie County.
When scientists at K-State discovered a more economical and efficient way to produce graphene and hydrogen, Vancouver-based HydroGraph Clean Power Inc. was quick to sign on and establish a manufacturing facility near university researchers in Manhattan. In 2023, the company expects to finalize two additional production units and begin the commercialized creation of graphene at a rate of 1 gram per second.
A software program used by nutrition professionals nationwide was created by a team of developers at K-State, which launched its own company by the name of Canopy in 2021. Plans to open a software development center were announced by the company in early 2022, which has the Manhattan area looking forward to new technology career opportunities and planned collaborations among Canopy, the university and local businesses.
Amid all the exciting science and technology developments in the region, something beautiful was born. In September, ground was broken in Manhattan on what will become the site of the Museum of Art and Light, a $43 million facility primarily dedicated to immersive and digital art displays. The museum is expected to open in 2024.
Manhattan’s Aggieville entertainment district will soon feature a five-story, $50 million, bustling center of activity. What kind of activity, you ask? Retail? Dining? Office space? Residential? The answer is yes. Currently known as Midtown, the mixed-use building will have a little bit of everything. The project was granted unanimous approval by city commissioners and is expected to be completed in late 2024 or early 2025.
Fifteen minutes east of Manhattan in the Pottawatomie County city of Wamego, more than two dozen acres of prime industrial space opened for development in January. The area is conveniently located less than 10 minutes north of Interstate 70, and newcomers will have a winery, a community college satellite location and a beloved burger joint as neighbors.