U.S Secretary of Agriculture tours agency’s new site in downtown Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The promise of new government jobs is drawing thousands of applicants in Kansas City.

State and federal leaders toured what will soon be the new site for the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The group took a first look at the building on Pennsylvania Avenue, that will soon hold the USDA offices. Mayor Quinton Lucas led the way.

“We are going to make sure that our region is the center and the world of life sciences research, life sciences development and producing food for the future of our country and our world. What you’re seeing today is an investment in that,” Lucas said.

But it's not happening with total support.

The move has drawn criticism in Washington D.C., as majority of current USDA workers decided to resign rather than relocate.

But Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he’s not worried about the transition.

“I think the core of the people who came will be helpful," Perdue said. "I’m not at all concerned about institutional memory. We think the people will help to train those new people quickly, and we will continue no mission loss whatsoever."

Perdue said they're working on getting back to speed and plan to be fully staffed by spring.

The new employees will be selected out of more than 6,000 applicants.

The move is expected to save the country hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade, according to Congressman Roger Marshall, and bring the department into the backyard of many agricultural producers.

"This is going to work out fine. It’s going to be lots of great opportunities for local people to get some great paying jobs, that $80,000-110,000 range. Kansas City will respond to this challenge," Marshall said.

An official ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for Summer 2020.

Career expos and job fairs are ongoing, and more than 100 jobs have been posted.

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