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Kansas revises Cerner, Wizards incentive package

Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:01pm
JOHN MILBURN - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press

Officials with medical software maker Cerner Corp. declined to comment Wednesday on a revised $230 million incentive package offered by Kansas to lure the company across the state line.

Cerner, based in Kansas City, Mo., and Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards have been negotiating with Kansas and Wyandotte County officials on a proposal to move the company and construct a new stadium for the team.

Kelli Christman, a spokeswoman for Cerner, declined to comment on the proposal or the status of negotiations with Kansas.

Cerner and OnGoal, the group representing the Wizards, are proposing a $414 million development near NASCAR's Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. The project includes an office complex for 4,500 Cerner employees, an 18,500-seat stadium for the Wizards and two dozen soccer fields for amateur teams.

Gov. Mark Parkinson issued a statement Tuesday saying the package presented to the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County to land the Cerner project had been modified. Under the new terms, Commerce Secretary Bill Thornton has agreed to make $47 million in financial incentives available immediately to help get the construction started.

"Nearly two months ago, we made an offer to Cerner that was aggressive yet responsible to the taxpayers," Thornton said Tuesday. "Over the course of negotiating with Cerner and the Unified Government for the past two months, we wanted to find a way to make the offer more palatable to Cerner without committing any more money than we offered in our original proposal.

"We have made the offer more palatable to them without committing a single penny more in state monies."

Parkinson said the state decided to revise the structure of the deal to get jobs created sooner, rather than later.

"As companies and businesses begin to regain their strength, making new hires often is one of the last steps they take on the path to recovery," Parkinson said. "Meanwhile, the unemployment rate continues to be too high, with too many Kansans out of work."

The Kansas proposal for the Cerner-Wizards project includes $85 million from the state in cash incentives, tax credits, training funds and sales tax exemptions. It also allows Wyandotte County to use almost $145 million in sales tax revenues collected from the area around Kansas Speedway to back bonds that would finance the soccer stadium.

A similar financial package was used by the state to encourage International Speedway Corp., the parent of Kansas Speedway, to build the 1.5-mile track. The area has been developed over the decade with shopping centers, restaurants and hotels, as well as a minor baseball park.

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On the Net:

Governor's office: http://www.governor.ks.gov

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