This is what a $34 million building looks like. Glass panel exterior. A fitness center with an on-site trainer. A milk bar and more.
Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA) held an open house on Wednesday to welcome the public to their new Kansas headquarters.
The milk marketing cooperative and dairy foods processor, formed in 1998, is the area’s largest private employer based on its 2015 revenue of $18 billion. Since its formation, DFA has leased 72,000 square feet of space near Kansas City International Airport.
“This building is a testament to our family farmers and the sustainable practices they employ on their dairies each and everyday,” said Rick Smith, president and CEO of DFA, in a release. “It’s not a typical corporate office space, but it absolutely functions like one.”
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The three-story, 110,000-square-foot building, designed by HOK architecture, is located in Wyandotte County, near the Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark. It includes sustainable design practices, like the use of under floor air throughout the space, 100 percent LED lighting with an energy-saving mode and the retention of water from the parking lot to irrigate the sight.
“I think one of the big struggles that we heard about the old office was that there weren’t places for people to come together,” HOK associate Eric Linebarger said. “So we really made sure this was an office that brought people together. There’s a ratio of one meeting space for every four employees in this building.”
The PEAK (Promoting Employment Across Kansas) program pledged $1.8 million a year for 10 years to the company as an incentive to move 20 miles away from its original Missouri headquarters. PEAK allows companies that bring jobs to Kansas to keep up to 95 percent of state withholding taxes.
The PEAK program emerged as a powerful tool for Kansas in what's often described as the economic development border war. The term describes Kansas and Missouri, along with cities in the metro region along the state line, offering incentives in order to move businesses a few miles away into other jurisdictions.
The state’s incentive lured the company’s 325 employees to KCK as Missouri fell $1 million short in its attempt to keep the company after 16 years. The use of Kansas incentives to move not too far across state line raised eyebrows at the time of its conception.
“This is Kansas City to me,” said Monica Massey, senior vice president and chief of staff for DFA. “It doesn’t matter if we are on the Kansas side or on the Missouri side. We wanted to stay here in Kansas City. We are a global company, but we were committed to staying in this community with the dedicated employees who live and work on whatever side of the state line.”