Kansas Department of Commerce

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Small companies in Kansas looking to expand their export business can get financial assistance through the state's Department of Commerce.

The Small Business Administration awarded the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The $380,000 grant was awarded on Tuesday.

The money will be used to help small and medium-sized businesses begin exporting for the first time or expand their existing export business.

kansascommerce.com

Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave is resigning to pursue private business opportunities.

Gov. Sam Brownback's office said Tuesday was Soave's last day as top administrator for the state's economic development programs.

Soave has served as commerce secretary since December 2015 and was the CEO of an international business consulting firm before joining the administration.

Brownback said former Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan will serve as interim commerce secretary. Jordan has been the head of the Governor's Economic Advisory Council since December 2016.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

Companies and small businesses in the Wichita area and south-central Kansas are leading the nation when it comes to global exports. At a time when the majority of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. experienced a decline, the region ranks third for its export growth.

Kansas Department of Commerce

The leader of a statewide advocacy group warned Tuesday that Kansas is likely to lose its federal arts dollars again early next year because the state isn't providing enough funding for arts programs under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's administration.

But a Department of Commerce spokesman said it is working on partnerships with other state agencies to show the National Endowment for the Arts that Kansas' commitment to arts projects is strong enough to qualify for federal dollars.

Governor Sam Brownback has named the CEO of an international business consulting firm as the next Kansas commerce secretary.

Antonio Soave of Overland Park has been named to the economic development job. Soave's appointment is subject to confirmation by the Kansas Senate.

Soave is chairman and CEO of Capistrano Global Advisory Services. The company helps businesses with mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures and expanding their foreign markets.

Kansas News Service/File photo

Gov. Sam Brownback says he’s close to naming a new Kansas secretary of commerce after his previous choice dropped out. Brownback says he has narrowed it down and interviewed three candidates. Now, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is conducting background checks.

“We’ve had some good candidates come forward," Brownback says. "That KBI background (check) takes a long time. I wish it didn’t take so long because that would be very helpful for us if we could get those moving through faster."

    

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s nominee for commerce secretary has backed out of the job, after citing a possible conflict of interest. As Stephen Koranda reports, the withdrawal comes just a day before a hearing on his nomination was set to begin.

Wichita Area Technical College

Wichita Area Technical College’s aviation training received a boost Monday morning from a major equipment donation and a workforce training grant.

The Kansas Department of Commerce provided a $183,000 grant to Wichita Area Technical College to cover the tuition and training for 70 sheet metal workers.

Spirit AeroSystems is looking to hire up to 500 sheet metal workers but is having a hard time finding qualified candidates.

Governor Sam Brownback announced Tuesday the Kansas Department of Commerce is partnering with Kansas Global Trade Services on a $250,000 grant from the Legislature to increase awareness of the importance of exports for the Kansas economy.

The grant will allow Wichita-based Kansas Global to work with communities in the state to promote exports and identify companies with potential to increase exports and create jobs.

Kansas Global is a private, trade advisory firm that builds services ranging from global information to strategic marketing.

The state Department of Commerce say Kansas companies grew by 6.46 percent last year.

The Department of Commerce's report on Thursday shows that Kansas' total exports were over $12 billion dollars.

Canada, China, Japan and Mexico were the state's top trading partners. The department says exports to China have grown by nearly $1 billion since 2011.

The sales of cereals and other agricultural products bumped the growth.

Cereal exports grew by $686 million, while meat products grew by $298 million dollars.

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