Gov. Sam Brownback called innovation and job creation the keys to keeping Kansans in Kansas at the unveiling of the new sublimation center at GTM Sportswear here Tuesday.
Brownback said more towns across Kansas need entrepreneurs such as Dave Dreiling, CEO and owner of GTM. He said Dreiling’s ability to envision an idea and then move that idea forward into a tangible product has facilitated job growth in the community over the past 25 years. He said the new sublimation printing equipment is a perfect example of how Kansas businesses need to evolve to remain competitive in the global market.
“The integrations of technology, the ability to manufacture and move at a very high-speed fashion is going to be one of the key parts of the future for us,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to do low-skill, low-wage items and compete in a global marketplace.”
Dreiling said the sublimation process prints intricate designs on special paper, then transfers that design to special lightweight fabric that absorbs the ink into the material, creating a more durable product. He said other sublimation facilities are housed in foreign countries and the wait time for the consumer is based in weeks. By housing the equipment in Manhattan, he said consumers in the U.S. will have to wait days, not weeks, to receive their products.
Along with keeping the process in the U.S., Dreiling also decided to move it from Texas to Kansas. As a result of that move, Dreiling said the company will be adding nearly jobs in all areas—cut and sublimation, sales, marketing, human resources, accounting—over the next five years.
Brownback said he was glad to see the job growth because “we educate people well, but then they leave because they can get a job somewhere else.” He said it is his goal to help retain as many post-secondary graduates as possible in state because the number of people migrating out of state, even in this area, has been too high.
Calling it an effort to spur more business growth, Brownback has lobbied legislators to give tax breaks to businesses. He said he is continuing to lobby the legislature to make Kansas more attractive to businesses.
“I have put in a tax proposal that gets the income tax rate down, but keeps the sales tax where it is, and that’s part of the overall process of balancing,” Brownback said. “We’ve been able to keep our costs down as a state, and we are going to try to keep those costs down, but at the end of the day you’ve got to build your roads and fund your schools and that’s what we are trying to get done within the structure; but also try to stimulate the business.”
GTM Sportswear is still training employees on the new equipment, but plans to offer the new product line within weeks.