Author Archives: Dan Voorhis

I write about the economy, economic development, agriculture, oil & gas, industry and whatever else sounds interesting. I’ve been at this longer than I care to admit (OK, 27 years). I am married and we have 2 daughters, 4 cats, 3 computers, 0 TVs, and we all live together in a squeeky old house near downtown.

Wichita employers to add workers in Q4: Manpower survey

Employment agency Manpower expects Wichita area employers will continue to hire more workers than they cut in the fourth quarter, which starts next week, but the trend to add workers is slowing.

The company’s quarterly survey shows that 13 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees while 8 percent expect to reduce staff, a 5 percentage point differential. The bulk of employers, 78 percent, said they expect to keep their current workforce.

While that’s still positive, it’s actually weaker than the third quarter when there was a 10 percentage point differential, said Wichita branch manager Kent Venters.

 

Kazakhs in Wichita today for tour

Ten Kazakh businessmen and government officials are in town today to visit the Cargill Innovation Center and Walton’s Meat Processing Equipment and Supplies as part of a lengthy tour of agricultural-related facilities in Kansas and Nebraska, according to the trip host CNFA.

Kansas senators back wind power tax credit

WICHITA –The Senate Finance Committee today voted 19-5 in favor of a bill that includes a wind energy Protection Tax Credit. Republicans Pat Roberts of Kansas and Charles Grassley of Iowa joined the democrats in voting for the measure, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran is not on the committee, but submitted a letter in support.

But the tax credit is expected to run into a lot tougher time in the more conservative U.S. House. Kansas congressmen Mike Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp have come out against tax credit.

 

 

Go Wichita plans for a big weekend

WICHITA — The Wichita area is hosting a big weekend coming up, with the National Baseball Congress, the Mid-America Youth Basketball boys national tournament and the Midwest Catholic Family Conference filling up about 2,250 hotel rooms each night this weekend, and that doesn’t count the normal demand from family reunions and travelers passing through. To help reduce snarls, Go Wichita, the local tourism and convention bureau, has made itself into a clearing house for local hotel rooms. Each day it tallies how many rooms are available and where, and then send that to their hotels.  If customers can’t find a room at a hotel, desk clerks will know where to send them.

Former Thorn Americas building off the block

WICHITA  — To no one’s surprise, CIP Investment Properties, which owns the former Thorn Americas buildings at 37th and Rock Road, declared bankruptcy, preventing the tax sale of the buildings set for next month to pay off the $3 million in back property taxes. It also blocks any immediate action by its mortgage lender, 5400 Holdings of West Des Moines, Iowa, which contended in a suit filed in June that it hadn’t made a mortgage payments since September 2010. County Treasurer Linda Kizzire notes that the county has first position to collect when the buildings are sold by the bankruptcy court.

Unfortunately, a host of local creditors won’t be in as good a position to collect. Total Inc., a Wichita construction company, is owed $225,000. However, the others are owned just a fraction of that.

The buildings, which total 175,830 square feet, are among the more prominent office buildings in Wichita. They served as headquarters for Thorn Americas until it left Wichita in 1998. It now houses a number of tenants,including corporate offices for Via Christi Health.

 

Pompeo backs Romney stand against wind tax credit

WICHITA — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come out against the Wind Production Tax Credit, set to expire Dec. 31 unless extended by Congress. The tax credit is regarded by the wind energy industry as critical to continued growth of wind farms in the U.S. On Monday, local Rep. Mike Pompeo issued a statement supporting Romney and reiterated his own long-standing opposition to the tax credit.

Pompeo has even written a bill that would end any tax credits for energy production — but, crucially, his bill doesn’t seek to end tax deductions for energy production, such as those so dear to the Kansas oil industry: the accelerated intangibles provision, which allows oil and gas producers to write-off all drilling costs within the year incurred, and the depletion allowance, which allows owners of producing wells to deduct 15 percent of gross oil and gas income per year.  Here’s Pompeo’s statement:

“For the better part of my first term in Congress, I have been working to halt the practice of using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers in our energy markets.  I’m thankful for Gov. Romney’s strong stance in favor of ending the 20-year-old Wind Production Tax Credit this year.  The Solyndra scandal has demonstrated that taxpayers must no longer be forced to subsidize these industries. When the government bets on these energy technologies, it typically selects the most unaffordable energy leading to unnecessarily higher energy prices for all Americans.”

I guess it’s all how you define the word “subsidize.”

 

Most Kansas wind power is exported

WICHITA — One of the interesting facts about wind power in Kansas: more than half is or will be exported by the end of the year. According to the KCC, 44.5 percent of the roughly 2,600 megawatts of current and soon-to-start wind farm production is consumed in Kansas. The rest goes out of state.

 

We’re No. 1…oops, uh, number 10 or something

WICHITA — When a governor crows about how good a state is (and by implication how well he’s leading it) it’s important to be right. Gov. Sam Brownback wrote blog item at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lauding the state because, he said, of a recent study that showed that Kansas has the highest percentage of jobs supported by intellectual property. Kansas had 604,000 jobs supported by intellectual property, according to this study, contributing 50 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. That impressive. It’s better than “high tech’ states such as Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington. He even has this yummy line: “Eat your heart out California; Kansas is the new home for innovation in America.”

The only trouble is, by percentage, Kansas isn’t No. 1 in the amount of GDP generated by intellectual property. It’s at least No. 10 behind a bunch of states including…wait for it…California with 55 percent of GDP generated by IP. Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois Alabama, Kentucky and North Carolina all were over 50 percent. Several others were also at 50 percent. I didn’t check all of the states, so I can’t tell you exactly where the state stands. So, we’re not No. 1, but that’s still worth crowing about.

Koch contributes to volunteer firefighters

Koch Industries and its subsidiaries expect to donate more than $200,000 this year to train and equip volunteer fire departments and local emergency responders in locations where they have plants, pipelines and ranches.

“Koch companies operate in many small towns and rural communities across the United States,” Jim Mahoney, executive vice president of operations excellence and compliance, said in a statement. “The majority of our sites – and the employees who work there – rely on local volunteer fire services and emergency response teams to provide these critical services. Our contributions are aimed at supporting and equipping these men and women who perform this important work.”

Today, employees of Koch companies in Texas, including Flint Hills Resources, Koch Pipeline Company, L.P., Optimized Process Designs, Inc. and Matador Ranch, are delivering checks totaling more than $80,000 to 32 organizations throughout the state. The grants range from $500 to $25,000.

Magazine: Freddy’s a good deal for franchisees

QSR Magazine has named Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers as one of its best franchise deals based on its low fees, tranparency and above average sales. A consultant they quote says that Freddy’s “inviting, nostalgic décor and high-quality burgers have allowed the brand to hold its own in head-to-head marketplace battles against the likes of Steak ‘n Shake and In-N-Out Burger.”

Does low income taxes equals high growth?

It’s an article of faith by the Brownback administration and is what drove him and the Legislature to drastically cut taxes this year. This study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy assets that the evidence doesn’t support that conclusion.  In the study, the highest taxing states tied or outgrew the no-income tax state over the last decade.

Are you making the average salary in your field?

Doctors and business executives make the most money. Who knew? But there is a lot more in the Kansas Department of Labor’s annual wage survey, so you can see what people in your field make.