by Norman Clifford,
Robert Glass, and
Charles Krider, Director, Institute
for Public Policy and Business Research, University of Kansas.
This research is an assessment of the business environment in Kansas as reported by those
who must operate within it: the firms who currently do business in the state. IPPBR surveyed 800
manufacturing and service-oriented firms, whose business was interstate in nature. The survey
focused on three basic classifications of state environmental factors a business must work with in
order to survive and prosper: the interaction between the state government and business, the basic
business tools necessary to operate a business, and the amenities of life that a state can provide to
the employees of businesses.
Overall the Kansas business environment was rated positively by firms in the survey.
Nevertheless, there were some areas of concern that received widespread attention. In general,
firms rated the state and local tax structure as a weakness of the Kansas business environment by
a wide margin. The property tax on machinery and equipment, the property tax on commercial
and industrial real estate, and the workers' compensation tax appear to be the most problematical
for firms. Firms in general, but especially small firms, reported that these taxes had a strong
negative effect on their investment and expansion decisions.
Although the state's physical infrastructure, especially highways and telecommunications,
were viewed as strengths, air service appears to be another area in which firms feel that the state's
business environment may be lacking compared to other states. Firms in mid-sized counties
appeared to be the least satisfied with the state's infrastructure, rating not only air services but
also highways lower than did firms in either rural or metropolitan counties.
There were some surprises in the findings. Firms did not rate the availability of financing
as a problem area; telecommunications and highways were rated well, even in rural areas; housing
was not seen to be a big constraint on hiring labor; and firms reported little difficulty in keeping
up with technology or exporting products. Thus, one might conclude that the Kansas business
environment is relatively good.
The Changing Ethical Climate Within the Telecommunications Industry
by H. Joseph Reitz, Co-Director, International Center for Ethics in Business, University of
This study examines the perceptions of contemporary telecommunications managers
regarding ethics in the industry: the extent and nature of changes, the causes of those changes,
and the consequences of ethical/unethical behavior. The fifty-eight managers who were surveyed
for this study represented independent local exchange carriers ranging in size from 4500 access
lines to more than 1.6 million lines, located in 35 different states from Alaska to Minnesota to
New York, and from Southern California to Texas to North Carolina.
It is clear from the survey that, as predicted, managers in the industry perceive that the
ethical climate in the telecommunications industry has changed, and not for the better. Further,
managers see a variety of new ethical issues with which they must grapple. They do not provide
evidence that their companies are assisting them in this struggle.
Impacts of Highway Bypasses on Kansas Towns
by David Burress, Institute for
Public Policy and Business Research, University of Kansas.
This report studies the economic impacts of building a highway bypass around small towns
and cities in Kansas. First, in the long term, typical bypasses in Kansas probably do not have
significant negative effects on the local economy. As a result of improved transportation, new
industries may locate in the county or old industries may be retained or may expand, leading to
higher income and population and more retail sales.
Second, in the short term, bypasses typically did not have negative short-term effects on
the workforce and tax base in the town as a whole; however, bypasses probably did have
transitory negative impacts on selected firms, such as restaurants, bars, motels, and service
stations, although not all travel-related firms in a bypassed town were negatively impacted. Third,
there is a large amount of background variation in the experience of individual towns and
individual firms. Some individual firms may have chosen to go out of business rather than adjust
to changed circumstances caused by the bypass. Those firms typically were replaced by other
firms. Fourth, the size of this unrelated background variation implies that many factors other than
bypasses affect the economy of small towns and of individual firms, and these various factors
together are substantially more important than bypasses.
Fifth, bypasses have at least five different effects on the export base; i.e., effects on the
sale of goods and services by locals to nonlocal persons passing through. One, they may
permanently affect impromptu spending by through traffic. Two, they may permanently encourage
growth of basic industry. Three, bypass construction and maintenance expenditures may
temporarily add to local sales and employment. Four, disruption and relocation of businesses at
the time of construction may temporarily interrupt some business activity. Five, relocation of
businesses nearer to the bypass may temporarily increase local demands for construction and real
The Kansas Workforce: Employer Assessment
by Charles E. Krider, Director,
and M. Elizabeth Stella, Institute for Public Policy and Business
Research, and Ronald Ash, School of Business, University of Kansas.
In 1989, an IPPBR/Kansas, Inc. study measured employers' assessment of the Kansas
workforce's skills, both basic academic skills as well as those other skills needed to survive in the
new economy. In 1996, IPPBR and Kansas, Inc. conducted another study, this time to determine,
among other things, if workforce skills had improved, if job skills and business needs have
increased, and what minimal education requirements businesses required.
That workers' skills do not meet job-skill requirements was the overriding finding of this
report. The pace of change, driven by technological advances and changes in how work was
organized, continued to outstrip the rate at which workers' skills improved. Educators,
employers, and employees have been chasing, and will continue to chase, a moving target. This
has serious implications for Kansas and requires a serious, committed response at all levels of
private and public activity. These implications are:
The development of a highly-skilled workforce must continue to be a strategic objective
for Kansas economic development.
Educators, supported by parents and employers, must provide business and industry with
workers who add productive value to the firms which employ them.
Business and industry need to communicate job skill requirements to educators on a
The business community and the education system must commit to developing effective
Students and parents must be informed of post-secondary training options.
Business, industries, and teachers must work together to create tech-prep programs,
school-to-work programs, and apprenticeship programs that are academically sound and
linked to the business world.
The state needs to adopt Adult Basic Education programs to enable those who have
already left the education system to improve their basic skills.
The Outlook for Kansas and the Nation: 1997 Update
by Norman Clifford, Institute for Public Policy and
Business Research, University of Kansas.
A burst of growth in the first quarter of 1997 will drive the national economy to a strong
performance during the year. In spite of a growth rate that is above the long-run potential, no
acceleration in the rate of inflation is foreseen.
The Kansas economy posted strong gains in 1996. Kansas jobs are expected to grow 3
percent in 1997, and the growth in the number of Kansans employed should exceed the growth in
the labor force by a half of a percentage point.