Business Development

PT County
Pottawatomie County is 862 square miles in size. Its large landmass includes very rapidly urbanizing areas in its southwest corner, to very rural, largely livestock and agricultural areas and communities throughout its northern and eastern areas.

Pottawatomie County is part of the Manhattan, KS MSA (2010 population of 127,081).

  • Kansas State University, in neighboring Manhattan, had a Fall 2014 enrollment of 24,766.
  • Pottawatomie County is about a two-hour drive west of the Kansas City, MO MSA (2010 population of 2,035,334).
  • IH-70 runs east-west about five miles south of Pottawatomie County, providing connections with Topeka, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

Pottawatomie County’s population has grown steadily since 1970 after a long, slow decline beginning in 1900. This is the opposite of the broader national trend of rural agricultural communities and regions experiencing steady population declines due to large numbers of people leaving rural areas for urban areas in pursuit of job opportunities and quality of life amenities. Pottawatomie County is in a more fortunate position than many rural counties because of its proximity to and interdependence with Manhattan.

Pottawatomie County has an increasingly well-educated population. Being located directly adjacent to a very well-educated college town has many benefits. Manhattan was ranked one of the best college towns in the nation by The percentage of population with an Associate’s degree or higher increased from 19.0% to 28.0% between 1990-2010, while the percentage of population without a high school diploma declined from 18.1% to 10.2% during the same period; however, these positive trends slowed significantly after 2000. Pottawatomie County leaders must continue to take steps to improve the educational attainment of the county’s citizens. Pottawatomie County also boasts two of the state’s six Blue Ribbon schools (both in Rock Creek USD 323), a highly prestigious honor awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to less than 0.1% of
schools. A well-educated workforce is one of the most important factors that businesses consider in their expansion/relocation decisions.

Pottawatomie County has numerous geographic advantages. It is part of the Manhattan, KS MSA and is within a two-hour drive of the Kansas City, MO MSA. Pottawatomie County is within a three hour drive of three major metro areas (Wichita, KS, Lincoln, NE, and Omaha, NE) and within a five-hour drive of three additional major metro areas (Des Moines, IA, Oklahoma City, OK, and Tulsa, OK).  Pottawatomie County is located less than 250 miles from both the geographical center of the U.S. (Lebanon, KS) and the nation’s mean center of population (Plato, MO). Pottawatomie County has good roadway infrastructure and is well-connected to the Interstate Highway System (IH-70 is 5 miles south of the county). Two Union Pacific rail spurs pass through the county.

Pottawatomie County’s largest non-agricultural industries by employment are Education &
Healthcare and Manufacturing
. These two industries account for more than half of all jobs in Pottawatomie County. Community HealthCare System and Wamego Unified School District (USD) 320 are the Education & Healthcare industry’s largest employers with 448 and 400 employees, respectively. Other major Education & Healthcare employers are Kaw Valley USD 321, the Big Lakes Development Center, Rock Creek USD 323, Wamego City Hospital , Advocare , Highland Community College, and Onaga-Havensville-Wheaton USD 322.

GTM Sportswear and Caterpillar Work Tools are the Manufacturing industry’s largest employers. Other major Manufacturing employers are Manko Window Systems, Parker-Hannifin Corporation, McCall Patterns, Quaker Oats , The Onyx Collection, Dymax, and Custom Wood Products.

Pottawatomie County has a strong housing market and a relatively young housing stock, with 12.4% of all housing built between 2000-2010, a higher percentage than Kansas and the U.S. Pottawatomie County has a median home value of $124,600, which is slightly higher than Kansas ($118,500), but substantially lower than the U.S. ($185,400). 

There is a wide range of small business development and entrepreneurship support
available in Kansas.
The Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) has a history of successfully utilizing many of the resources that are available for small businesses and entrepreneurs, in the Manhattan area and statewide. Entrepreneurship and small business development are key components of successful economic development. 

Kansas State University is the single most important asset in the regional economy. Kansas State University (KSU) is the region’s largest employer and also attracts thousands of annual visitors from outside the region and millions of dollars in annual academic R&D spending. Having such immediate access to a major research university gives Pottawatomie County a huge competitive advantage compared to the majority of rural counties in the Central U.S.  Pottawatomie County is currently taking steps to strengthen its ties with KSU in the arenas of workforce development, business incubation, and research. KSU will remain central to the regional economy, and it is important for the Manhattan region, including Pottawatomie County, to continue seeking innovative ways in which local businesses and institutions can partner with KSU to leverage the region’s many assets to support future economic growth.