After the manufacturers and business leaders from around the world and across the U.S. wrapped up the 2017 Global Manufacturing Summit with a tour of the Kansas Polymer Research Center, former Kansas Secretary of Commerce Antonio Soave said he hoped the participants have a new appreciation of the opportunities available in Southeast Kansas.

“Once upon a time, they may have said, ‘Why Southeast Kansas?’” Soave said. “Now we hope they go away and say, ‘Why not Southeast Kansas?’”

The summit, hosted by PSU and the Kansas Department of Commerce, attracted attendees from Latin America, Europe, Asia and the U.S., Soave said. Speakers at the summit came from major manufacturers from the Great Lakes to the East Coast and the Southeastern United States. Keynote speakers included Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Cliff Pemble, the CEO of Garmin; and Cliff Illig, founder of the Cerner, Corp., and Sporting KC.

Soave said the Department of Commerce created a campaign, “Made in Kansas, the Heart of America,” to embrace and promote manufacturing in the state.

“Trillions of dollars (of foreign direct investment) come into the United States and we have to make sure that we get our piece of that pie,” Soave said. “That’s one side of the transaction. The other portion is the fact that we are stimulating growth from within.”