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Local Level

Brookings Institution Rankings

South Central Kansas is, as the Brookings Institution terms it, “the most manufacturing-specialized” region in the United States with 17.4% of regional jobs in manufacturing, more than half of which are engaged in making some of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft.

Of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas – Wichita ranks #1 in manufacturing jobs as percent of all jobs, and #3 in percent of manufacturing jobs classified as “very high-tech.” (Brookings Institution – 2012)

Of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas – Wichita ranks 22nd in percentage of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math – STEM occupations. (Brookings Institution – 2013)

Wichita #3 U.S. Advanced Industry Hotspot in 2015

Brookings Institution ranked Wichita third on their list of advanced industry hotspots, or R&D and STEM-worker intensive industries. These industries—which range from automotive and aerospace manufacturing to energy activities to digital services like computer system design and software—play an outsized role in powering regional and national economic success.

Wichita #3 in Innovation Partnership Funding between Business and Academia (2015)

This Brookings report is major recognition of the innovation partnership between Wichita’s private sector and Wichita State University. Wichita trailed only Columbus OH and Albany NY on the key metric of private sector funding for university-based research and development as a proportion of the local economy. Brookings considers this metric a useful proxy for the extent to which industry and academia are engaged in a productive partnership of innovation-oriented collaborative research.


Forbes ranks Wichita No. 3 among the nations’ engineering capitals (July 2013)

In terms of engineers per 1,000 employees – Wichita ranked #3 in the nation – behind only San Jose (Silicon Valley) CA and Houston TX.

According to the most recent National Science Foundation data (2013), Wichita State University ranks fourth among all U.S. universities in total aeronautical research and development expenditures. Wichita State reported $39 million on such expenditures in 2013. Wichita State ranks first in private industry-financed aero R&D expenditures, with more than $25 million. And it’s not only aeronautical research – WSU’s 2013 overall R&D funding totaled $61 million.

Wichita named #1 site for Aerospace Manufacturing Facilities (2011; Business Facilities)

August 2011 – It seems that Wichita KS has taken up permanent residence atop the annual Aerospace/Defense Manufacturing category in Business Facilities' Metro Rankings. Here are the top 10 finishers in the aerospace/defense category:





  4. FT. WORTH, TX







Note: Starting in 2012, BF switched to ranking by state, not metro areas. Kansas was ranked #8 in 2012; #7 in 2014. BF did not do an aerospace/defense manufacturing ranking in 2015.

Wichita metro area has the highest concentration of aerospace manufacturing employment (NAICS 3364) in the nation. Industry concentration is measured by location quotient (ratio of local concentration to national concentration.) Metro Wichita has an aerospace manufacturing employment LQ of 27.36. The next highest such concentration is in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA metro area with an LQ of 14.23 – roughly half that of Wichita. Source: Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014 Data)

During 2016, Wichita companies delivered 43% of all general aviation airplanes built in the United States, and accounted for 29% of global general aviation airplane deliveries. Source: General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)

Wichita Area Technical College / National Center for Aviation Training is leading a consortium of community colleges in developing industry-standard manufacturing training programs and curricula. Between NCAT's aviation building and advanced manufacturing building, an entire business jet could be made from design to finish.

Manufacturing accounts for 17.4% of Wichita metro area employment – nearly double the national percentage (8.8%)

Portion of Total Employment in Manufacturing Sector


Wichita KS


Tulsa OK


U.S. National


Dallas-Fort Worth TX


Kansas City MO-KS


Omaha NE


Oklahoma City OK


Des Moines IA


Denver CO


Source: Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (Average 2015)

● Westar Energy's industrial and commercial rates in the Wichita area are 3% and 15% lower than national average, respectively. (2015)

● Wichita’s July 2016 Means Commercial Construction Cost Index was 90.2 – nearly 10% below national average.

● Wichita area Class A office space asking rent averages $17.32 per square foot per year – versus the national metro average of $28.97. (Q2-2015)

● Wichita area industrial space asking rent averages $4.34 per square foot per year – versus the national metro average of $5.61. (Q2-2015)

#16 Best City to Start a Business in 2015

Wichita loves entrepreneurs. Using 13 unique metrics – ranging from 5-year survival rate and the affordability of office space to the educational attainment of the local labor force, this study ranks Wichita in the top 20 best cities to start a business.

#13 for Military Friendly Cities in 2013

The Military Friendly Cities® list measures the number of job openings at Military Friendly Employers®, the number of Military Friendly School® campuses and the number of registered veteran-owned businesses located within the region. It also takes into account cost of living and unemployment rate. In 2013, Wichita ranked 13th out of 50 cities on this list.

University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita ranks sixth for family practice physicians

A 2013 study by the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Academic Medicine magazine ranked the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita sixth in the country for producing family practice physicians. Overall, the U.S. has a shortage of family physicians, and so do many rural areas of Kansas. The study examined 759 medical residency sites to see where their graduates were practicing three to five years after residency. Between 2006 and 2008, 233 doctors graduated from a KU School of Medicine–Wichita residency program, and about 46 percent went on to practice primary care. Of those 233, 46 were in rural areas.

Wichita's overall cost-of-living index is a very moderate 90.7, roughly 9% below the national urban area average of 100. Source: ACCRA Cost-of-Living Survey (Third Quarter 2016)

Median selling price of existing (previously owned) single-family homes in the Wichita metro area was $135,700 in the Third Quarter 2016 survey by the National Association of Realtors. Wichita ranked 27th lowest of 179 reporting metro areas; and $105,500 or 44% below the national median price of $240,900.

Newly-built home prices are also quite reasonable. The third quarter 2016 average sale price of newly built single-family homes in the Wichita metro area was $228,773. That is $102,496 or 31% below the corresponding national figure of $331,269. Source: ACCRA Cost-of-Living Survey

Wichita area apartment rent is also very reasonable. Average two-bedroom apartment rent was $692 in the third quarter 2016 ACCRA Survey. That is $332 or nearly 32.5% lower than the national figure of $1,024. Source: ACCRA Cost-of-Living Survey

Trivago names Wichita #4 in the 2016 U.S. Best Value Cities ranking

Trivago is the worlds’ largest online hotel search site. Trivago ranks desirability of travel destinations – taking into account consumer hotel quality ratings and hotel prices.

Cheapism.com Ranks Wichita #4 Best Cheap City for Raising a Family (2014)

Wichita offers quick commutes, low cost-of-living, many museums, parks and theaters, several universities and a first-class airport.

Living in “The Air Capital of the World” by Movoto

Wichita is the most populated city in Kansas. With a stable housing market, low cost-of-living, great weather and excellent education options – it’s one of the great cities in the United States.

#1 City for First-Time Home Buyers in 2015

Wichita provides the affordability, accessibility and stability that are so important for new entrants into the housing market.

Forbes Ranks Wichita #6 Best-Bang-For-The-Buck City in 2009

Locating a desirable spot to settle down means something quite different today than it did just three years ago. That's when Americans flocked to coastal and Sun Belt cities like Orlando FL and Las Vegas, where properties were easy to acquire and home values were expected to noticeably appreciate.

Forbes Ranks Wichita #2 Best-Bang-For-Your-Buck City in which to Rent in 2013

In either apartment complexes or single-family rentals – renters get a lot for their money in Wichita. This could mean the difference between a 2-bedroom with private patio, and a 500-square-foot studio.

#1 Least Congested City in 2014

Craving big city culture, shopping, events and sports – but not wanting to sacrifice comfort or personal space for life in a metropolis? Wichita is the answer. Wichita metro area average one-way travel time to work is about 18 minutes (27% shorter than the national average.)

Top 50 Sunniest Cities in the U.S.

Wichita ranks #46, with an average 65% of days being filled with sunshine.

State Level

50-State Small Business Regulation Index ranks Kansas #4 (2015)

Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a non-partisan non-profit think tank, released a comparison of small business regulatory burdens across the 50 states. Kansas ranked #4 among the 50 states for business-friendly regulatory environment. The Index measures 14 regulatory components that are either positively or negatively associated with small business economic burdens.

Pollina Corporate Real Estate, one of America's leading corporate site-relocation experts, ranks Kansas #5 in the top 10 for most business-friendly states in the nation (2015.) Pollina praised Kansas for "pro-business policies that result in job growth" and a "conducive business atmosphere."

The 2015 ILR State Liability Systems Ranking Study ranked Kansas as having a relatively business-friendly litigation (lawsuit) environment. Kansas ranked #19 (1 = best.)

CQ Press compiles its State Overall Livability Rankings annually. The 2015 Rankings are based on 43 factors covering a broad range of economic, educational, health-oriented, public safety and environmental statistics reflecting a state’s basic quality of life. Kansas ranked 13th best in the 2015 livability rankings.

Area Development magazine awarded Kansas its Silver Shovel award in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 , 2015 and 2016 – and its Gold Shovel award in 2013 -- for job creation and investment projects in the "under 3 million population" category – Kansas is consistently ranked high for few regulatory and fiscal obstacles.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Kansas had the 6th lowest industrial natural gas total delivered cost among the 50 states in 2015 at $4.24 per MCF (MM BTU.) The total range of costs among the states was $2.89 to $19.03, with a national average of $3.91 -- so Kansas is very competitive.

Kansas is one of only eight Constitutional RTW states. Kansas is a Right-To-Work state by 1958 amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The amendment was supported by 93 of the state's 105 counties and passed by a very substantial margin of 90,000 votes. Of the 28 states that prohibit required union membership (Right-To-Work or RTW states), 20 enacted RTW by state statute. Such statutory RTW laws are vulnerable to legislative reversal. Kansas is among the only eight states enacting RTW by state constitutional amendment. As such, Kansas RTW status can only be changed by a vote of the people, and is not vulnerable to legislative reversal. Unions in Kansas cannot attempt to collect "service fees" from workers who choose to not join the union. Kansas is an "at will" employment state. There are no unusual restrictions.

ALL business machinery and equipment (newly purchased, leased or moved into Kansas) is exempt from property tax.