Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Department of Agriculture exploring other locations

By Andy Marso http://analytics.apnewsregistry.com/analytics/v2/image.svc/cjonline/RWS/cjonline.com/CAI/123568/MAI/123568/E/prod
The Kansas Department of Agriculture is exploring moving its headquarters to Manhattan or southwest Kansas next year.
The Department of Administration, which handles leasing and facilities management for state agencies, has listed online three bid solicitations for office space for the Department of Agriculture. The solicitations, which have the same specifications and are dated June 14, request bids from Topeka, Manhattan and "Great Bend, Garden City and/or Dodge City."
Max Foster is the Department of Agriculture official listed on the solicitations as the contact person for tours of the department's current office space in the Mills Building at 109 S.W. 9th. Foster said Monday that the department's lease is up September 30, 2013, which is why the bid solicitations list the "desired occupancy" date as "on or before" Oct. 1, 2013.
Dale Rodman, Kansas secretary of agriculture, said through a spokeswoman that the department has been working for the past six months to "identify potential options to meet all needs for the department."
"As KDA receives more information about all possibilities, we will begin reviewing all available options while focusing on the core responsibilities of the department and providing those in the most efficient and effective manner possible," Rodman said.
The bid solicitations state that in order to be considered, the leased spaces must accommodate 20 to 180 workers. The Department of Administration's online directory currently lists 172 Department of Agriculture employees in Topeka.
Doug Kinsinger, president and CEO of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, said it was the first he had heard of the department possibly moving.
"Our position has always been that the capital is the most suitable place for the departments and especially their head offices," Kinsinger said. "We've had many dialogues with Gov. Brownback and his administration about that."
Brownback's office didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment by close of business Monday.
Kinsinger said Topeka "sees a substantial economic impact" from hosting state agencies as the capital city.
"This economic impact ranges from the direct purchases the agency and departments make of supplies and services from a wide variety of vendors to the indirect economic impact of the agency's employees, their families and their purchases," Kinsinger said.
As the director of the Department of Administration's Office of Facilities and Property Management, Mark McGivern is the state official in charge of leasing office space to state agencies.
McGivern said his office tries to keep its finger on the pulse of what current rental rates are across the state "in places where we have a preference."
"The process that we would undertake, generically, is wherever the agency is interested in relocating to. Typically there's chambers of commerce or real estate committees and you can get market info for that particular market if you just know the right person to talk to," McGivern said.
Kinsinger said keeping the Department of Agriculture in Topeka makes sense, given the presence of related organizations like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Grain and Soybean Association, Kansas Feed and Seed, the Kansas Soybean Association, the Kansas Co-op Association and the Kansas Livestock Association.
"Having the vast majority of agricultural-related organizations in the capital of Kansas allows communication and cooperation to be efficient and productive," Kinsinger said. "In addition, there is also the key benefit and value of being close to the Legislature and the governor's administration."
Original Article Here

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