Topeka, Kan. – The last time the state of Kansas established a comprehensive plan for economic development was in 1986, with the Redwood-Krider report. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Secretary of Commerce David Toland believe it’s time for a new plan.
“Economic development in Kansas needs to be modernized, and that means we need a new thoughtful, strategic plan to guide us forward,” Kelly said. “The economic challenges facing Kansas require innovative solutions and a well-coordinated approach. It is vital that we determine the best comprehensive strategy to encourage growth in the years ahead.”
The Kansas Department of Commerce, in partnership with key economic development organizations, is seeking professional consulting services to research and analyze Kansas economic development and deliver a comprehensive economic development blueprint, one with innovative strategies for business retention and business recruitment.
“The Redwood-Krider report was a great blueprint,” Toland said. “It set the stage for economic development in Kansas, including the formation of the Department of Commerce. But the world has changed quite a bit in the last 33 years. It’s time for Kansas economic development to join the 21st Century.”
The governor and secretary believe Kansas needs an aggressive new plan to restore the State’s place as a leader in economic growth. With significant, rapid changes in today’s global economy, the state must identify and pursue new and nimble best practices.
“Kansas cannot settle for business as usual,” Toland said. “We want to be ‘best in class’ in state-led economic development. Bold, innovative strategies would breathe new life into economic development efforts that help create a better place to live and work now and for future generations.”
The selection of a consultant will consist of a two-part process. In the initial round, Commerce has requested the qualifications of a firm, or team of firms, that speak to their depth of experience, along with a framework of methods they would use to accomplish their proposed plan.
The Selection Committee then will narrow the list to no more than five firms. Those firms will be asked to submit a full-scale proposal, including a cost breakdown, process, timelines and deliverables.
The goal is to exceed the slow-to-moderate growth of past decades and achieve progress in communities large and small, urban, suburban and rural. As cited in the Request for Proposal (RFP): “More populous urban and suburban areas remain a high priority. They are home to major economic engines in the State and continued growth in those areas translates to continued growth in the Kansas economy. Less populous rural areas demand a much more significant amount of attention. Young Kansans from rural areas need compelling reasons to stay or return home. Designing regional and affordable solutions for infrastructure enhancements (including broadband) will be critical to rural stabilization.”
“It may be time to explore a different approach to economic development that addresses strategies and tools unique to rural areas and another set of strategies and tools for urban and suburban areas to ensure the sustainability of both,” Toland said.
According to the RFP: “Kansas is a place of diversity in population and thought, which has created a foundation for long-term prosperity. The best economic development strategy would reflect and build on workforce diversity woven into the colorful fabric of the State and its history.”
“Following years of lackluster economic growth, Kansas needs new ideas and new energy,” Kelly said. “I look forward to working with experts, as well as economic development stakeholders across the state, to build a deliberate and comprehensive strategy for growth.”
The State of Kansas will use the official Request for Proposal process through the Department of Administration for this project. The process is set to begin on May 31.