In the July 2010 edition of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, Topeka, Kansas was recognized as one of the "Top Ten Cities for the Next Decade." This recognition summarizes what is happening in the community.business growth, civic engagement, and an energetic, dynamic focus on the future.
Even during the height of the "Great Recession," Topeka and Shawnee County experienced stellar economic growth. In 2009, GO Topeka, the private nonprofit economic development organization for the community, announced five major projects involving 2,000 jobs and $352.5 million in capital investment. For 2010, the community is on the same pace of success.
A Centralized Location
For more than 150 years, Topeka has been in the middle of everything, right in the nation's heartland. With its centralized location, Topeka is a perfect place for transport with access to major Interstates (I-70 and I-35) and Class 1 railroad arteries that allow for inexpensive, simple shipment and delivery for business sites.
GO Topeka has started development of Kanza Fire Commerce Park, a 1,018-acre business mega-park - announced in October 2009 - to complement the existing 500-acre Central Crossing Commerce Park. Bisected by US-75 - a four-lane, interstate grade, divided highway - with access on site, the new mixed-use park features easy access to I-70 and I-335, 6,000 feet of rail frontage, and close proximity to Forbes Field that has a 12,000-foot runway for air freight transport. This park is built to be smart with a sustainable design, energy efficiency, walking trails, water features, 130 acres of green space, and shared renewable energy sources.
Low Cost of Doing Business
Topeka doesn't just make it easy to relocate - it also makes it an affordable place to do business. The Topeka/Shawnee County area has a cost of doing business that is 15 percent lower than the national average, with an index of 85 according to Moody's Economy.com, and a cost of living 10 percent lower than the national average (ACCRA). And because all machinery and equipment in Topeka is exempt from personal property taxes, it's less expensive to operate a business in Topeka. And Topeka has the ability to offer incoming companies the most aggressive, flexible local incentive package in the central United States.
In the "Knowledge Corridor"
Topeka and Shawnee County are also proud of the work force that's available to incoming businesses. The community is located in the heart of the Kansas "knowledge corridor," with four universities within a 60-mile radius - the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Washburn University, and Emporia State University. These universities have a combined enrollment of approximately 60,000 and an average graduation rate of more than 12,000 students per year. In fact, 36 percent of the region's population age 25 or older holds a bachelor's degree or higher (compared to 27.5 percent nationally).
Topeka and Shawnee County have the right strategic alliances and assets to grow new, innovative industries as well as the traditional sectors. Beyond providing one of the friendliest environments for business, science, and innovation, the area has the technical capabilities, the centralized location to make distribution simple and cost-effective, aggressive and flexible incentives, and the smart and dedicated work force that is ideal for emerging and established industries.