Don Schroeder, R-Inman, was in the audience when a second tenant — New Millennium Wind Energy —for the Kansas Logistics Park was announced.
He looked at the photos of a new wind turbine design, one designed for roof-top installation, and picked up a free ball cap at the press conference. And he smiled.
“I think this is a bigger deal than many of us realize,” Schroeder said.
He had heard the same statistics as everyone else in the room — 350 new jobs in three to four years. Average salaries of more than $40,000.
But he sees more.
“I think there will be additional spinoffs for the area and the state,” Schroeder said. “I see a lot of potential. This is a big, big deal.”
He’s not alone in thinking this will be a big deal for the state. Founder of New Millennium Wind Energy Drew Thacker spoke of thousands of the company’s uniquely designed turbines being built in Newton.
And he caught the attention of Gov. Sam Brownback in the process.
“Kansas must compete on a global scale as we recover from a recession,” Brownback said. “I don’t think here is a better fit in the world, than to have a product like this built in Newton, Kansas.”
His announcement signals the second wind energy company to locate at the Logistics Park — between the pair more than 750 jobs are expected to be created in the next three to four years.
Those jobs, and the spin-off opportunities Schroeder believes will be available, are what make him think the impact will be felt statewide.
“A big part of state revenues come from individual income taxes,” Schroeder said. “The more people we have working, the better position the state is in.”
The Logistics Park is emerging as a player in the wind energy market, leveraging location and traditional strengths in transportation to bring an emerging industry to the area.
“When you look at the history of central Kansas, this makes sense,” Schroeder said. “We have a hard working, industrial people who can adapt.”