On January 29, 1861, our state was founded on the ideals of personal freedom and individual liberty. The 152nd anniversary serves as a time to challenge all Kansans to carry on the enduring legacy of our founders.
In Washington, I often tell folks that Kansans live a special way of life. The pioneering spirit of those who settled our state more than 150 years ago and tamed the West lives on in us today. We fully embrace the words of our state’s motto: “Ad astra per aspera,” … “To the stars through difficulties.”
Growing up in Kansas, we learn that our family’s joys are increased and our sorrows diminished when they are shared with neighbors and friends. We teach our children that there is good in every person and that satisfaction in life comes from what you do for others rather than what you do for yourself.
Kansans work hard to make a difference in our communities, state and nation. Throughout the years, Kansas has raised many talented leaders – from Eisenhower to Earhart – who have helped shape our state and nation and overcome challenging obstacles. But the story of Kansas is also one about the farmers, factory workers, teachers, business owners, parents and all the unsung heroes whose hard work has built our state’s economy and reputation around the globe. We have much in our history to be proud of, and even more to look forward to.
Today, Kansas continues to set itself apart as an industry leader in many fields, some well-established in our state like aviation, and some burgeoning like research and entrepreneurship.
Aviation contributes more than $7 billion to our state’s economy each year, and Kansas’ reputation as the national leader in aviation manufacturing and job creation was recently solidified when Airbus Americas announced it will continue its partnership with Kansas and double its investment over the next 10 years. I was proud to co-host the first-ever Air Capital Supplier Summit in Wichita in August 2012, which gave more than 200 representatives from 115 companies the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from Airbus with the goal of facilitating more business for Kansas companies. I look forward to hosting a second successful summit elsewhere in Kansas this year.
Kansas has also become a leader in advancing biomedical and bioscience research. In fact, our bioscience industry has grown at a faster rate than the national sector since 2001. This growth opens the doors for new medical and technological advancements. Last summer, the University of Kansas Cancer Center achieved designation as a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center. This exclusive designation will have a lasting impact on our state’s economy and a life-changing impact on Kansans for generations to come. And just last month, Kansans received good news from the Department of Homeland Security: the land transfer agreement has been signed, and the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan is moving forward. This state-of-the-art biosecurity lab will replace our country’s antiquated foreign animal research facility at Plum Island, NY, and protect us from foreign animal disease threats.
And at a time when national new business formation is near historic lows, Kansas had a record 15,008 new-business filings in 2012 according to the state’s Annual Business Formation Report. These numbers suggest that entrepreneurs have discovered something I’ve known for a long time: Kansas is a great place to start a business. This uptick in entrepreneurship bodes well for future job growth in our state. And with Southwest Airlines set to start operating five routes out of Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita starting on June 2, 2013, Kansas entrepreneurs will now have new options to connect them and their businesses to the rest of the country and the world.
Our state’s leadership in these pioneering industries is forming a legacy of opportunity for the next generation. We want our children and grandchildren to have the chance to return home, put down roots and raise their own families in the communities we love.
After 152 years, Kansas has much to celebrate – from our rich heritage to our diverse industries. Bright days lie ahead for our state and I will do all I can to make certain we leave behind a stronger, freer and more prosperous place to call home.
May God bless the great State of Kansas.