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TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly has signed a bill that lawmakers expect to bring thousands of jobs to the state with a $4 billion business investment.

Senate Bill 347, otherwise known as the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion (APEX) Act, is aimed at helping Kansas compete on a national and global scale for large economic development projects.

The bill would create a new incentives program so the state Department of Commerce could offer a single company hundreds of millions of dollars in breaks once this year and once in 2023.

The incentives would exceed $1 billion. The measure also cuts corporate income tax rates.

“This positions Kansas to potentially land a once-in-a-generation opportunity that could transform our economy. This tool is about more than just one project. It makes us an economic powerhouse ready to compete on a national and global scale. That means thousands of new jobs, billions more business dollars injected into the economy, and more opportunities for Kansas families.”

Gov. Laura Kelly

Lawmakers have kept the business the bill focuses on a secret so far.

Officials who know the company’s identity said they were required to sign an agreement not to name it or disclose project details. They said the company expects to make a decision within a few weeks.

Despite the mystery, the bill has seen bipartisan support, which Kelly said she was thankful to Senate President Ty Masterson and House Speaker Ron Ryckman for.

“Passage of APEX shows there is strong bipartisan support to put Kansas on the national stage for economic development. The APEX bill gives us a realistic shot at winning large economic development projects that will bring huge business investment and job creation to our state. We are excited about our chances with the current prospect that would be transformative for our state and deliver long lasting benefits to Kansas.”

Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland

Backers of the measure argued that Kansas has lost out on other large projects because it can’t offer generous enough incentives.

“This is a tool that will help us be competitive with other states,” said Senate Commerce Committee Chair Renee Erickson, a Wichita Republican.

APEX did face some pushback in recent weeks as some senators expressed their concerns over the bill. Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, expressed concern over the bill on Jan. 25. He argued that if the bill wasn’t changed, it could leave the state in a position where it would have to pay money back on income tax.

“The income tax on it is refundable, meaning that the company could pay back more than they paid in,” Tyson said. “That means the state of Kansas would be writing them a check. So we need to take a close look at this legislation. This is not something that you should try to pass quickly.”

Sen. Caryn Tyson

The secret business is currently considering Kansas and another state, which some legislators said is Oklahoma, as the new base for its expansion.

If Kansas does secure the deal, then it would be the largest private-sector investment in the state’s history.

Kelly’s administration said the company will employ 4,000, and other firms supplying or supporting it would add several thousand more jobs. They said the company would pay an average of $50,000 — when the per-person income in Kansas averages less than $32,000.

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