KCK in competition for new proposed U.S. Space Command headquarters site

Kansas City, Kansas, is one of four cities in Kansas that have volunteered to be a site for a new proposed U.S. Space Command headquarters, according to a news release from Gov. Laura Kelly.

In the news release today, Gov. Kelly mentioned the four Kansas communities that want to be the new home for the agency. The other three communities that have responded are Derby, Leavenworth and Wichita. The four Kansas sites are in the second round of applications, she said.

The new military branch would be responsible for U.S. military operations in outer space, and cities all over America will be in competition for the site.

Greg Kindle, president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, said the new headquarters would need about a half-million square feet of space, plus parking to accommodate the employees. While there is no formal estimate of the number of employees, they are guessing it might be about 1,000 to 1,500, he said.

Kindle said his agency has put in a proposal, with the backing of the Unified Government, for the U.S. Space Command to be located in Kansas City, Kansas.

He declined to state the proposed location of the site in Kansas City, Kansas, however.

The U.S. Space Command is the new service recently formed for military operations in outer space. Each of the branches of the military already have a strategic command headquarters. The current interim headquarters for the operations for outer space is in Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, near Colorado Springs.

According to Kindle, the new headquarters would need to be a secure facility with a significant amount of infrastructure, fiber, electric, water, and land perimeter security. The newer national federal secure sites are not built with razor wire, as people might think, he added. The newest national geospatial administration building has a facility in downtown St. Louis that looks like a big campus on a nice parcel, he added. There is a lot of security that people don’t see, he added.

The new headquarters would have to be within a certain distance of a major military installation, and the connection here would be Ft. Leavenworth, he added.

“We anticipate that the federal government, the Pentagon, would reduce the number of sites under consideration by or before the end of year to just a small number of sites for consideration,” Kindle said.

When asked if Wyandotte County had any sites that were big enough for a half-million square feet, Kindle said yes, and added that the Cerner campus here is larger in terms of square footage.

Based on what they know, Kindle said they would assume this headquarters would be the back office operations and central command for this branch of the military. It would largely be a professional staff, and perhaps a lot of the 1,500 employees would be in the military, although there also might be some civilian jobs available.

He said the Kansas City area has a lot of military assets, and there are technical talent capabilities in the market. This area also has a good quality of life, a central location and many other assets, he said.

The U.S. Space Command is breaking off from the U.S. Air Force, and Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts have submitted a letter of support for a Kansas site to the U.S. Air Force, Kindle said. Gov. Kelly said U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, were working hard on this effort.

“There are sites that have more proximity to the existing Air Force bases, but we also know that the military also has a strong desire to ensure their employees have a solid quality of life and access to amenities, and there has to be a lot of amenities available to this,” Kindle said. That is “something that we would have available in Wyandotte County.”

Wyandotte County also has proximity to an airport and infrastructure, he added.

The governor is supporting Kansas as a location.

“I have directed my Cabinet to use all resources necessary to support the selection of Kansas as the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command,” Gov. Kelly said in a news release. “Our strong teams of state and local economic development professionals have the tools available for the attraction, growth, and retention of the U.S. Space Command headquarters. Kansas is the perfect place for this facility, and we are prepared to do the work to get it here. We look forward to further discussion with the U.S. Air Force as it works toward a decision on the U.S. Space Command headquarters’ location.”

The interested Kansas communities are in the National Security Crossroads, a bi-state region with unique national security assets and talent. This would allow U.S. Space Command to quickly leverage this critical national security infrastructure and skills in establishing its permanent headquarters in Kansas, according to the governor’s office.

New $350 million development announced for Kansas Speedway area in Wyandotte County

A new $350 million development bringing nearly 2,000 jobs was announced today for the Kansas Speedway area, at 118th and State Avenue in Wyandotte County.

Urban Outfitters, after evaluating markets across the central United States, selected Wyandotte County for the home for its new ecommerce direct fulfillment center, said Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. He made the announcement during a Zoom news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Urban Outfitters has about 200 stores nationwide, Cowden said. The company, with headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will use the new URBN distribution and fulfillment center as a logistics node for the general merchandise and consumer products Urban Outfitters company.

The new development will be an 880,000-square-foot multi-channel distribution center, according to the announcement. There will be 60,000 square feet of office space. Ground will be broken in the fall, and it may begin operating in early 2022.

Gov. Laura Kelly, Mayor David Alvey, NASCAR Vice President Lesa Kennedy, and several other officials participated in the Zoom announcement.

Gov. Kelly said this will be a “transformational project for the state.”

She said Urban Outfitters saw the value in a central location and strong infrastructure. They also found out more about what makes Kansas special – the people, she said. The Kansas work ethic is unmatched anywhere, the governor said.

Mayor Alvey said he was deeply impressed by the company’s vision.

“Urban is the kind of community business partner that we need to attract as we continue to grow our tax base, as we try to provide better and more services to all of our neighborhoods throughout Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County,” Mayor Alvey said.

Urban has committed to a long-term investment, Mayor Alvey said, and will strive to hire 35 percent of its workforce from Wyandotte County, he said. He also said the company is committed to using minority and women-owned businesses in the construction of the project, and will work with the Unified Government to provide transit services to employees. They also will provide child care solutions for employees, he said.

A workforce partnership with Kansas City Kansas Community College is planned.

Mayor Alvey said the company has committed to paying a wage of $18 an hour, which is a significant improvement on the median wage in Wyandotte County.

“We all know the very serious economic challenge that the COVID pandemic presents to all of us,” Mayor Alvey said. But they continue to see new development in Kansas City, Kansas, and the area.

He said they expect $270,000 in additional revenues for the city of Kansas City, Kansas, from this project, which is very significant for the community. Also, Bonner Springs school district would receive $200,000 to $220,000 a year, which is also significant, he said.

He thanked state officials, along with economic development officials, for their work on the project.

Incentives were not announced today, and they are currently working with the company on them, the mayor said in answer to a question at the news conference.

Lesa Kennedy, executive vice president of NASCAR, said they joined with Hillwood Development to find the best and highest uses for land. This property is “absolutely perfect” to do a deal with Urban, according to Kennedy.

Todd Platt, CEO of Hillwood Development of Ft. Worth, Texas, said Urban Outfitters is a strong retail company. He believes there will be a lot more investment in this community in the future. Ross Perot Jr. is chairman.

David Ziel, chief development officer at Urban Outfitters, said it will be a complex facility requiring a talented workforce to run it. He said they have been working on this project for 10 months.

“People first is the No. 1 driver of this decision,” Ziel said. “Kansas wins on the quality of the people.”