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Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Comment: KTEC CEO clarifies, apologizes

March 27, 2008

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Your March 22 Saturday Column, "Report, comments cast doubt on the state's economic efforts," makes some interesting and important points, requires some clarification and deserves an apology, from me. Let me apologize first.

On March 6, in a meeting with Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. (KTEC) network affiliates, I made a remark, which while meant to be humorous, may have hurt some people's feelings. The remark was responding to currently proposed legislation to move some state agencies and quasi-state agencies from Topeka, the state capitol, to rural parts of the state.

The remark, meant facetiously, came as I was summarizing cost estimates for moving state agencies to rural Kansas. Upon reflection the comment was inappropriate and I regret having made it.

As a native of rural, western Kansas, I certainly appreciate the advantages and values that are so unique to rural Kansas. And, the remark notwithstanding, I certainly have a grasp and feel for the unique sensitivities in all parts of our state. I do apologize for having offended anyone by this remark. Those who know me, and what all of us at KTEC are attempting to achieve for everyone in Kansas, should and can expect better in the future.

Now, to add more clarity to your comments on economic development achievements in Kansas, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) conducted an independent study of KTEC recently. RTI is a nationally respected independent tech-based economic development authority. RTI concluded that, "Overall, KTEC operates highly effective programs that generate positive outcomes for Kansas. This is accomplished through its collaborative network, on-target programs, institutional respect and ability to provide strategic assistance to partners."

To clarify, the Post-Audit report states that 70 percent of the $1.5 billion came from the federal government, 25 percent from the State of Kansas and 5 percent from other sources. Note that approximately 5 percent of the $1.5 billion reported was allocated for KTEC programs during that period.

The articles referenced by the Post-Audit staff analyze traditional economic development practices outside of Kansas.

A clear distinction should be made between the focused, technology-based economic development that KTEC practices and general economic development activities.

KTEC provided the Post-Audit staff a wealth of documents showing that technology-based economic development is a wise state investment that often requires a different analysis process

KTEC's impact has been well documented. Since its inception in 1987, and first full funding and staffing in 1995, KTEC investments have created:

¢ 16,200 jobs

¢ $1.75 billion in increased sales

¢ An additional $541 million in federal investment

¢ An additional $410 million in private capital investment

KTEC's numerous investments and programs have helped companies, individuals and academic institutions in nearly every county in Kansas.

According to the RTI independent study of KTEC, "Other praises for KTEC's effectiveness including its advocating efforts for the greater technology-based economic development community in Kansas and, in particular, recently reaching out more to its rural affiliates."

Here is one example of the statewide impact of KTEC's investment strategy:

KTEC invests 11 percent of its annual budget in the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center (MAMTC), whose primary staff is located in Johnson County. These funds allow MAMTC to directly impact manufacturers in nearly every county of the state, even though the KTEC investment in MAMTC is labeled as an investment in "Johnson County."

It seems clear to us that future economic growth will be strongly driven by technology-based activity. This reality means that KTEC's programs will become increasingly important to Kansas' economy.

Our intent is to achieve all technology-based economic development objectives with transparency, disclosure and real-time monitoring. The better understanding we have of the impacts, costs and effectiveness of the various economic development options, the better we serve all the people of Kansas.

The bottom line of this response echoes the bottom line of your column: "competition is becoming more intense and more professional, and Kansas cannot afford to coast and not put its best foot forward."

This is a prophetic statement about the economic future of our state. Thank you for making it.

Editor's note: It is reported that the Research Triangle Institute study referred to by Taylor was commissioned by KTEC at a cost of about $50,000.

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