Kansas Gov. Jeff Coyler wants more training to boost manufacturing

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Gov. Jeff Colyer is pushing for more job training to expand the Sunflower State's manufacturing base.

At Serta Simmons Bedding, products made in Kansas are driving the state's growth.

This plant is a major employer in Shawnee with 145 workers. The mattress maker actually has increased it's workforce by more than 50 percent in the last two years.

Colyer and his wife, Ruth, toured the plant to select a new mattress for the governor's mansion at Cedar Crest.

In addition to assembling mattresses by hand in Kansas, all of the materials, foam and steel for Serta Simmons mattresses, are locally sourced by suppliers in the area, tying even more family-supporting jobs to the operation.

"They are making a lot of the parts for it," the governor said. "They are making the coils inside right here. That doesn’t happen everywhere. They are also able to use a lot of local manufacturers, a lot of subsidiaries. Building that whole ecosystem is what’s important for us."

Shawnee is pushing to expand its manufacturing base, but the chamber of commerce says the state's already low unemployment rate is a factor in attracting qualified workers for factories. These jobs are no longer considered unskilled.

With advanced machinery in many plants, workers need training to attract more capital investment to make products in Kansas.