Antonio Soave, former secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce, sent The Star this statement Friday after Gov. Sam Brownback’s office criticized Soave’s handling of consulting contracts.
I was proud to serve the people of the state of Kansas in my capacity as Commerce Secretary. After mutual accord and agreement, I resigned my position in late June of this year, after about 18 months of service.
As Secretary of Commerce, I was able to help generate overall cost savings and boost economic activity for the state — over 10,676 new jobs created in 2016 and over $1.43 billion invested in Kansas in 2016. While at Commerce, we achieved a 14 to 1 ROI for the state.
I implemented some new marketing and business development programs that were innovative and that were from the private sector. I felt it was important to vigorously market the state of Kansas so as to attract more business, more companies, more investment and more jobs.
It is important to note that I followed all internal policies and procedures on all procurement matters, including with the hiring of consultants. I was not able to hire anyone on my own accord (as it pertained to staff), nor was I was able to sign-off on any expenditure on my own. Each and every procurement scenario required several signatures. We were very careful to comply with all existing policies.
When I entered as the Secretary of Commerce, the Kansas Department of Commerce had various consulting contracts already in place. I assessed those consulting agreements and found a few of those to be very high-priced. I either ended some of those contracts or I reduced them significantly. I replaced some of those high-priced consulting agreements with lower-priced business development experts from the private sector, most of whom made $1,000 per month for about 9 months.
My job as the Secretary of Commerce was to enhance and increase economic development for the state of Kansas. I did this by instituting several new and innovative marketing and business development programs. As such, we created many new programs such as Jump Start Kansas Entrepreneurs, the Made in Kansas manufacturing initiative, a Kansas Commerce Newsletter, a Kansas Commerce Magazine, and the Global Manufacturing Summit.
I also implemented a system of metrics and measurement, due diligence for STAR Bonds and other similar programs, and a ROI platform that included reporting all goods and services into a Gross Agency Product ("GAP") structure.
Again, part of our approach was to replace high-paid consultants with lower-paid business development people from the private sector from around the country. Overall, I helped to reduce internal personnel and consulting fees by about $1.2 million during my tenure. I also helped to generate more than 10,676 new jobs in 2016, and to generate more than $1.43 billion in capital investment in 2016.