Kansas Department of Commerce

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

TOPEKA — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly gave Kansas' top economic development official a second job as the state's next lieutenant governor, and the state Republican Party immediately previewed possible attacks against their ticket in the 2022 elections.

Stephan Bisaha / Kansas News Service/File photo

WICHITA, Kansas — At the start of 2020, Wichita dreamed of a $1 billion face-lift alongside the Arkansas River, complete with a new performing arts center, a new convention hall and wide green spaces.

That vision for the future in Wichita, and in other Kansas communities, has been put on hold for months or years — if not completely torn up — by COVID-19’s economic and public health impact.

Kansas is slipping to the back of the pack on some critical economic measures. In this episode of Statehouse Blend Kansas, host Jim McLean talks with Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary David Toland about what the agency is doing to try to reverse those trends.

McLean also hears from Kansas News Service reporters about a proposal to ban the sale of vaping flavors, and he asks why Republicans resist Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s proposal to create an independent office on energy policy.

Grievances generated by policy and personality clashes in a southeast Kansas community have spilled onto the statewide stage in the battle over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s nominee to head the state Department of Commerce.

David Toland often found himself at odds with Virginia Crossland-Macha when he was the CEO of Thrive Allen County, a community health-improvement and economic development organization based in Iola.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s nomination for commerce secretary will go to the Senate floor but without a favorable committee recommendation.

Kate Hutchens / KMUW/File photo

Kansas lawmakers this week will look at tightening the rules for companies and local governments that want to tap into a major economic development program, STAR bonds.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas lawmakers have decided not to move forward with audits looking into allegations against former Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave.

Pictures of Money / Flickr Creative Commons

Small companies in Kansas looking to expand their export business can get financial assistance through the state's Department of Commerce.

The Small Business Administration awarded the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The $380,000 grant was awarded on Tuesday.

The money will be used to help small and medium-sized businesses begin exporting for the first time or expand their existing export business.

kansascommerce.com

Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave is resigning to pursue private business opportunities.

Gov. Sam Brownback's office said Tuesday was Soave's last day as top administrator for the state's economic development programs.

Soave has served as commerce secretary since December 2015 and was the CEO of an international business consulting firm before joining the administration.

Brownback said former Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan will serve as interim commerce secretary. Jordan has been the head of the Governor's Economic Advisory Council since December 2016.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

Companies and small businesses in the Wichita area and south-central Kansas are leading the nation when it comes to global exports. At a time when the majority of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. experienced a decline, the region ranks third for its export growth.

Pages