WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of lucrative federal jobs are headed to the Kansas City area after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans Thursday to relocate two research agencies to the region.
A two-state proposal from Kansas and Missouri beat out 135 other bids to become new headquarters for the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, two of the USDA's principal research agencies.
It's a major win for policymakers in both states, who worked closely on a collaborative bid, and a sign that the long-term border tensions on economic development may be easing.
"It was a united effort, so that really helped," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the Senate Agriculture chairman, said earlier in the week before the USDA officially selected Kansas City over other finalists, locations in North Carolina and Indiana.
"I am committed to ensuring we continue to support and strengthen the research mission that our U.S. producers rely on. Kansas City is an obvious choice, as many other USDA agencies in the area partner closely with stakeholders," Roberts said in a statement Thursday.
The actual site for the relocation -- and on which side of the state line it will be -- is unclear at this point.
Sources say several spots may be in play. On the Missouri side, downtown possibilities include City Center Square; a Quality Hill building at Eighth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue where State Street Corp. operates; sublease space at Shook, Hardy & Bacon's offices near Crown Center; as well as offices in Crown Center itself.
In Kansas, the Sprint Campus and an office building in Lenexa's Renner Ridge Corporate Center are under consideration. The site of the proposed American Royal complex in Wyandotte County was offered up, but the USDA signaled a preference for existing office space.
Tim Cowden, chief executive of the Kansas City Area Development Council, described the research agencies as the "crown jewels" of the USDA. They were coveted by competing jurisdictions for the high paying jobs that would come with relocation.
"If I'm a farmer in Livingston County or a rancher in Miami County, I'm thrilled today because the agencies that have a direct impact on my livelihood are going to be located somewhere in the 435 loop, not in the Beltway in Washington D.C.," Cowden said.