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New Governors' Agendas 2011: Sam Brownback, Kansas

In January, new governors were inaugurated in 26 states. As the nation continues to deal with a slowly improving economy, these governors have their work cut out for them. Area Development's editor recently asked the new governors what businesses in their states could expect regarding resources, regulatory changes, and tax and financial incentives.

Editor's Note: This article is part of Area Development's Governors' Agendas series, which allows governors elected to office in 2011 to outline their business and economic development plans. View interviews with all new governors at

What resources will your administration leverage in order to attract businesses to your state?
Brownback: Getting the Kansas economy growing again is my top priority. Critical to that growth is a business environment that is conducive for attracting jobs and investment. I am committed to making Kansas more business-friendly from a tax and regulatory standpoint. We have proposed a series of changes to our state's tax code that will make Kansas competitive with other states and countries. I also have established the Office of the Repealer, whose sole responsibility is to identify and eliminate needless and burdensome regulations, and I have named a business ombudsman in each agency to assist Kansas businesses.

Which particular industry sectors would be well served by your state's resources?
Brownback: The Kansas economy has traditional strengths in energy, aviation manufacturing, agriculture, and animal health that offer us a way to be at the forefront of many new and exciting opportunities. While we continue to be a producer in traditional energy resources, we are uniquely positioned to be a leader in renewable energy, such as wind energy and biofuels. Our aviation/aerospace industry provides us an opportunity to not only excel in aerospace research, development, and manufacturing, but also to take those skill sets and apply them to other advanced manufacturing opportunities. From our roots in agriculture and animal health, we have built the highest concentration of animal science/animal health companies, research, and product development in the world. Our location in the center of the country, coupled with our ongoing investment in infrastructure, also makes us a strong contender for transportation and logistics-based operations of many types.

How will the state continue to serve its existing industry?
Brownback: Helping our existing industries succeed and grow is a priority for my administration. Reducing taxes and the regulatory burden on companies doing business in Kansas will be a major step forward in increasing their opportunities for success. I also have introduced legislation to offer expensing as a tool for existing Kansas companies to benefit more directly from their capital investment, which we believe will encourage greater investment and result in greater business success and growth.

In today's economic environment, what is your administration's policy on financial incentives to business?
Brownback: We live in a competitive world and recognize we must remain competitive to be successful in attracting new businesses and new business operations - and the opportunities they provide - to our state. It also is imperative that we not forget the value a business derives from operating in a business-friendly tax and regulatory structure in a state that is efficient and well run. Our goal is to make Kansas the state that good companies recognize as being their best option for long-term business success.

Do you plan to undertake any specific education initiatives to encourage business to locate and remain in your state?
Brownback: I believe it is imperative that we make strategic investments in education that advance key industries like aviation and bioscience. For instance, trained engineers are a critical ingredient for many of our industries. We must target resources to deliver enough engineers with the right skill sets to meet the needs of our Kansas companies.

Are there any changes in your state's tax and/or regulatory code that you are proposing in order to encourage business development?
Brownback: As mentioned earlier, I believe that making Kansas business-friendly from both a tax and regulatory standpoint is critical. We have introduced expensing in this legislative session as a means for companies to benefit more directly from their investment in Kansas. As stated before, I also have established an Office of the Repealer whose sole responsibility is to identify and eliminate needless and burdensome regulations. As we move into the future and economic conditions improve, I will work for the reduction of the tax burden on both business and individuals. Several years ago, Kansas enacted a statutory property tax exemption for all business machinery and equipment, which has been a very positive thing for Kansas business. I believe broad-based tax reductions of that type can be very powerful tools for economic growth.

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