Kansas City, MO
The Greater Kansas City area is close to the geographical center of the United States. This makes it well located for distribution, manufacturing, warehousing and intermodal transportation. The economy in the Kansas City area is diverse. Major manufacturing employers are Hallmark Cards, Harmon Industries, Inc., and American Italian Pasta, the largest producer of pasta in North America. Federal Express, Wausau Supply, Procter & Gamble, and H&R Block either have or are in the process of relocating significant operations or expanding existing ones in the area. The city is home to the corporate headquarters for DST Systems, automated recordkeeping for the mutual fund industry, Nextel Corp., YRC Worldwide, Hallmark Cards, Russell Stover Candies, H&R Block, and Novastar Financial. “Prosperity at a Crossroads” found that Greater Kansas City was weak in the number of firms engaging in domestic and international trade, the quality of human capital and capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship, three drivers they have identified for regional economic growth. As an example, net exports as a share of its overall economy has declined significantly since 1990. Along with this the percentage of the number of people with a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math is below national averages, and those with these skills are leaving the area for places outside of the Midwest. The economic growth rate for the area is expected to be above national averages. The strongest job growth is expected to be in the services industry followed by construction and real estate. Manufacturing employment is expected to be fairly flat with output gains coming from productivity improvements. Slight employment increases are expected in the transportation and wholesale industries because of large investments being made in new distribution facilities, such as those surrounding the BNSF intermodal center in southwest Johnson County. Increases in automation will allow for substantial increases in freight while employing roughly the same number of people. Growth in construction employment is expected to continue to increase as is the professional, technical and scientific services industry, which accounts for over 25% of the areas employment growth rates. The biggest declining sector is traditional retail. As internet sales account for more of the local spending, traditional retailers will be forced to come up with better and more cost effective methods. The number of retail workers in the Greater Kansas City economy is forecast to decline.