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From Site Selection magazine, November 2023

Kansas Advances Technology

From aerospace to chip manufacturing, the state is gaining substantial investment in vital industries.

by Alexis Elmore

he year 2023 is catapulting high-tech capabilities in Kansas.

In February 2023, Kansas-based EMP Shield announced a $1.9 billion computer chip manufacturing investment in Burlington, located in Coffey County, halfway between Kansas City and Wichita. The news came just weeks after Integra Technologies announced its $1.8 billion semiconductor plant two hours southwest in Wichita.

“Right now computer chips, the technology that powers everything from cars to smartphones to broadband, are mostly made in China. That’s a problem,” said Kansas Governor Laura Kelly while announcing EMP Shield’s project. “The fact that we have not one but two projects like this shows that we have enormous potential here in Kansas. Potential to take on national, even global changes, potential to create more jobs, potential to lift every community including our rural communities.”

Both projects are a result of the federal Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act being signed into law in 2022. The Act itself continues to expand its funding guidelines, providing a boost for both investments.

“Coffey County appears to really hit the sweet spot for everything requested for CHIPS Act funding,” said EMP Shield Founder and Lead Engineer Tim Carty. “Everything is falling into place, and the state’s strong support hopefully gets us one step closer to a favorable federal response.”

EMP Shield’s site is located on 300 acres of Burlington’s Silicon Prairie Industrial Park, just an hour south of capital city Topeka. The company is building out four production lines over 235,000 sq. ft.

In September 2023, Secure Semiconductor Manufacturing, LLC (SSM) broke ground on its own 30,000-sq.-ft. facility to supply EMP Shield with semiconductor components, the company being one of seven suppliers who have announced plans to locate to the state. SSM plans to produce capacitors, printed circuit boards and wiring boards at the facility, in addition to advanced prototyping assembly. 

Immersed in Flight

Pure Imagination Studios, in partnership with Kansas State University, Salina; Salina Airport Authority and the State of Kansas, announced in August 2023 its plans to invest $41 million in an advanced spatial computing studio and learning center.

The Kansas Advanced Immersive Research for Emerging Systems, or K-AIRES, studio represents a first for all players involved and will steer traditional educational practices in a new direction.

“This collaboration with Pure Imagination Labs expands on K-State Salina’s reputation for applied learning, real-world application, and embedded industry experiences in our academic programs,” says K-State Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus CEO and Dean Dr. Alysia Starkey.

The three-story, 58,000-sq.-ft. studio will allow the university to take a new approach to gaining skills within education, aerospace, manufacturing, entertainment, defense, training and more.

“K-AIRES will be a studio and training facility for researchers and academics interested in spatial computing and all of the supporting relevant technologies, like real-time rendering, artificial intelligence and machine learning,” says Starkey. “The center will expand this spatial computing technology beyond anything currently on the commercial market.”

In preparation for the new facility, K-State Salina will be launching a new degree program catered toward cyber systems engineering. A groundbreaking is anticipated by the end of fall 2023.

 “We are establishing the world’s first-of-its-kind spatial computing studio and training facility. It is an innovation hub at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution,” said Pure Imagination Studios Founder Joshua Wexler. “The choice to anchor the studio at K-State Salina stems from the institution’s thriving ecosystem and the state’s resolute commitment to challenging the status quo. This partnership stands as an investment in the local community and economy with the potential to propel Kansas to the forefront of the spatial computing industry.”

An estimated 100 jobs will be created by this investment. Starkey tells Site Selection that these jobs will start well above the median salary rate for the region. Pure Imagination Labs plans to fill both full-time and internship roles with current students or graduates of K-State Salina.

Resources such as K-AIRES are critical to future industry growth and keeping skilled talent at home in the state.

A little over an hour south of K-State’s Salina campus, Yingling Aviation is in the midst of its second expansion this year at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. By January 2024, the company plans to complete its 17,000-sq.-ft. warehouse for a total of 320,000 sq. ft. of facility space.

This expansion, which will add over 80 jobs, brings Yingling’s 14th building to the airport and will be used for sheet metal repair for flight control surfaces, structural components, avionics panels, modifications and more.

“The fact that we continue to grow Yingling Aviation at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport is proof of our close working relationship with the Wichita Airport Authority. It demonstrates our dedication to improving the opportunities in our Wichita community, our focus on customer service and providing superior quality of work, and the remarkable talents and skills of our employees,” said Yingling President Andrew Nichols. 

Alexis Elmore
Associate Editor of Site Selection magazine

Alexis Elmore

Alexis Elmore joined Conway Data in 2022 as associate editor for Site Selection. A 2021 graduate of the University of Georgia, she studied journalism and communications before moving back to Atlanta to pursue her career. As an editor for Site Selection and contributor to Conway's Custom Content guides, she writes about economic development efforts and corporate growth happening around the globe.


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