RDA Happenings April 2016
Posted on April 30, 2016 – By Emporia RDA
About five or six times a year, the RDA staff travels to various marketing events through the United States, such as Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, New York City and occasionally Los Angeles.
I attended the Pet Forum in Kansas City, Missouri April 18th through the 20th. The forum moved from the Chicago area to Kansas City last year. The annual conference will be held in Kansas City for the next three years.
Kansas City, and the area from Manhattan, Kansas to the west, Columbia, Missouri to the east, St. Joseph, Missouri to the north and Emporia, Kansas to the south is considered the Animal Health Corridor. The RDA is a member of the Animal Health Corridor division of the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC).
The Animal Health Corridor has the largest concentration of industry assets in the world. In fact over 56% of the total worldwide animal health diagnostics and pet food sales occur within the more than 300 animal health companies in the corridor.
In Emporia, we have the largest per capita pet nutrition production in the world with three pet nutrition plants – Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Simmons Pet Food and Cargill Pet Food, or at least that is what I claim until someone disproves it.
The Pet Food Forum keynote speaker this year was Victoria Stillwell, the English dog trainer, author and television personality who utilizes positive reinforcement dog training.
During the Pet Forum there was a general session entitled, “How pet food businesses can work with State and Local governments”. Interestingly enough the Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary McClaskey and two of her staff members were presenting information during the session.
One of the Kansas Department of Agriculture staff members contacted me about success stories in Emporia. I shared the following with her:
From 1994 to 1997 we worked on recruiting Menu Pet Food. Menu was operational in June 1998. Beginning in 1999 they had multiple expansions until the wheat gluten spiked with melamine recall on March 16, 2007. Menu Foods sold to Simmons Pet Food in November 2010. Simmons has had three expansions in the last six years.
We worked with Hill’s Pet Nutrition on April 18, 2007. The public announcement of the project was on June 20, 2007. From June until late December 2007 we encountered several challenges with the real estate transaction. Finally on December 21, 2007 the real estate transaction was completed. The ribbon cutting on the 525,000 sq. ft. Hill’s Pet Nutrition Plant occurred on December 10, 2010.
The Safeway plant located in Emporia in 1978 before my time here. My predecessors remember working with Safeway for 8 years before the decision was made to locate in Emporia. American Nutrition purchased the plant in 2007. The Emporia American Nutrition plant was purchased in early 2012 by Cargill. We assisted Safeway Pet Food with a plant expansion in the early 2000’s.
Simmons Pet Food produced a video in December 2015, early on in the video which addresses the importance of the Flint Hills Technical College (FHTC). Over 50 FHTC graduates who are part of the over 500 Simmons Pet Food workforce. Here is the link: https://vimeo.com/channels/simmonspetfood
In addition to several good topics, there was a trade expo at the Pet Food Forum where I had the opportunity to visit with several vendors that support the pet food industry. They were strongly encouraged to consider Emporia, Kansas for their business expansions.
The Pet Nutrition industry Animal Health Corridor and the Pet Food Forum is and will continue to be a mutually beneficial marketing event for Emporia. The pet nutrition industry is a strong and growing sector in the Emporia economy.