WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Agribusiness giant Cargill said Tuesday it will keep its protein operations in Wichita, Kansas, and search for a new facility to house them.
Wichita is home to the company's beef business and its turkey and cooked meat business, which includes deli meats. Its processed protein services, such as its North American egg business and its food distribution, also are located in Wichita.
"We didn't choose Wichita because we thought we could survive. We chose Wichita because we believed we will thrive here," Cargill corporate vice president Brian Sikes said.
The Minneapolis-based company had been considering moving its Wichita operations to another location, citing workflow issues with having people in multiple buildings in the city. The company has been looking for the past six months at relocating its protein operations, possibly to Texas or Colorado, before ultimately deciding that Wichita is "the right place for us," Sikes said.
Most of the 900 employees that work in Wichita are housed in a 10-story building, although some also work in leased space in another building. The company will begin searching Wednesday for a new location in Wichita, Sikes said.
Cargill cited a "collaborative atmosphere" between the company and city and state officials to creating a business environment that will enable the company to meet its customers' needs. Sikes declined to specify what financial incentives that involved. Other criteria the company considered included minimizing disruption to the business from relocation, quality of life for its employees and optimizing company resources.
Sipes acknowledged that cuts to state government services and to Wichita schools were a concern as the company weighed whether to stay in the city, especially given the number of its employees with families. He said the company sees its decision to stay despite them "as an opportunity to be part of the solution."
The Cargill Innovation Center is nearby. Cargill also has a 50-employee plant that crushes soybeans to make oil. The company recently announced it's making a $50 million expansion there.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said he was "ecstatic" that Cargill decided to stay in Wichita, saying the state is "globally competitive at supplying protein to a hungry world."