Located smack in the middle of the country, Kansas has long been known for its agriculture industry, and during the turn of the 20th century, the state’s location also became a transportation hub for the railroad and airplane industries to help make its economy strong.
Even as the country continues toward a more technological economy, much of Kansas’ production comes from its traditional economic power – that’s not to say, though, that the state isn’t making technological process. Kansas has very much moved into the 21st century.
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Here are five of the top industries in Kansas:
Though the state’s official nickname is the Sunflower State, it’s also long been known as the Wheat State – and that's for good reason since that became the state’s most important output in the late 19th century. Though the state in 2014 produced its lowest amount of wheat since 1989, it’s still ranked No. 1 in the nation in wheat milling and production, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture
. The state also ranks first in sorghum production and fourth in sunflower production.
2. Cattle Production
While the growing of food products is an important part of Kansas’ economy, the same can be said of its cattle production. Ranking third in the nation in cattle production and beef processing, Kansas’ output rose sharply from 1975-2005, according to the Mid-America Freight Coalition.
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Kansas long has been a producer of oil and natural gas, usually ranking among the top 10 states in the country, but the state also has done a nice job on advancing more alternate forms of energy, including solar and wind power. According to the Kansas Department of Commerce, the state is “ranked second in the nation for wind energy potential, [and] Kansas has vast opportunities to expand the wind generation that can be produced in this state.”
In 2008, this industry was booming in Kansas. But in the past several years, layoffs have taken their toll on the industry, and with Learjet announcing more job losses recently, the Wichita Eagle reports that the number of aviation jobs in the state has dropped from 42,100 workers to 24,400. This is still an important part of Kansas’ economy, but the industry continues to struggle. Still, three of the state’s top-five employers are in aviation manufacturing.
5. Non-fuel Industrial Minerals
Along with oil and petroleum, Kansas also is known for its non-fuel industrial minerals. According to the Kansas Geological Society, those minerals include “cement, clay and shale, crushed rock, dimension stone, gypsum, helium, salt, sand and gravel, sulfur, and volcanic ash.”
Writes Emporia State University, “Kansas may not be a state that is well known for mineral production, but the actual abundance of natural resources in Kansas would surprise most people.”
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