WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Integra Technologies has cleared two more hurdles in its plan to expand and create more than 2,500 high-paying jobs in the Wichita area.

When the semiconductor company announced two weeks ago that it would build a new combined headquarters and production facility in Bel Aire, it said the plan was pending CHIPS Act funding and local approval.

Integra Technologies will apply to the U.S. Department of Commerce for CHIPS funding. Part of the application requires Bel Aire and Sedgwick County to show their commitment to the project.

The Bel Aire City Council did its part Tuesday night. It approved a 10-year, 100% property tax abatement and the creation of a tax-increment finance (TIF) district. It also approved a letter of support that will be included with the CHIPS Act application.

“We are going to do what we can make happen,” said Bel Aire Mayor, Jim Benage. He added,  “We need to bring this aspect of CHIP manufacturing into the United States on a larger scale and this is a huge opportunity to make that happen.”

On Wednesday, the Sedgwick County Commission also approved a letter of support and an incentive package for Integra.

“This is our way of demonstrating our local support,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner, Ryan Baty.

The package includes the following:

  • $100,000 a year for five years to help train people to work at Integra Technologies
  • Support Bel Aire’s creation of the TIF district
  • Help state, federal and local governments with the infrastructure of the roads around the proposed site at Kansas Highway 254 and Rock Road

“We’ve gotta diversify in this community but we also have to attract and retain opportunities that can really impact who we are as a community and what is it we can do for our people,” said Baty.

Before the County commissioners voted on the incentive package, Brent Shelton, the County’s deputy chief financial officer, explained how the Integra expansion could benefit more than just Integra.

“The Wichita State University Economic Impact Study estimates an additional 3,161 jobs will be created by suppliers, construction labor and other service positions as a result of this project,” Shelton said.

“Local support for workforce development and training is a necessary component of the CHIPS application for funding,” he said. “This agreement calls for County support of $100,000 per year for five years, a total of $500,000, to be made available for scholarships and tuition assistance that provide training opportunities for students across the county.”

He said the plan is to ensure diverse populations can access Integra jobs.

“It’s about removing the barriers that people might have in their way to receiving training to take advantage of these quality jobs.”

Shelton said the County’s offer is contingent on Integra receiving CHIPS Act money.

“As part of this agreement, Integra will commit to a $1.5B in capital investment for this project, and they also commit to maintaining a minimum employment level of 1,600 full-time employees,” Shelton said.

Integra Technologies President and CEO Brett Robinson told commissioners who could qualify for the jobs.

“The majority of our workforce that we plan on hiring, we’re going to be looking for high school graduates and GED-equivalent, and we provide all of the training there at Integra, in the training facility in partnership with WSU Tech,” he said.

Robinson said the average salary for the project is $51,000 a year.

Commissioner Jim Howell asked if the company has a transportation plan for workers who would have trouble getting to the Bel Aire location.

“We haven’t announced it officially yet, so maybe this is the announcement,” Robinson said. “We do plan on having five buses, and we will be reaching out to areas of the community that maybe do not have the opportunity to have reliable transportation or any transportation at all, and we will pick them up and bring them to our new factory.”

“The reason I think that’s important, at least to District Five, my district, is because I have four communities that I think would really appreciate that help,” Howell said. “So, I just think this is a major part of the total piece of information today.”

Shelton called Integra’s project a transformative win for the whole region, and the County commissioners agreed.

“This is truly exciting from my perspective,” Commission Chairman Pete Meitzner said. “We’ve all been briefed, and I think we’ve all had a chance to visit with Brett’s team and facilities and kind of see and hear the vision, and it’s very, very positive.”

“This is an exciting time for this community,” County Commissioner Ryan Baty said. “For the last year, I’ve been saying that our time in this community is now, that it’s time for us to take a step forward in economic development and to build a future that will be representative of the world, of what you’re able to do in semiconductor technologies and so not only from the national level but from a local level, this is a big-time moment for this community, and we appreciate the commitment.”

Commissioner David Dennis said Integra’s expansion brings the county’s manufacturing to a new level.

“We really love our aircraft manufacturing, but we have to diversity if we’re going to keep growing, and this allows us to diversify and keep growing,” he said.

“I really wanted to highlight that these jobs are really well paying, so having so many at that rate is just, it’s incredible for our community,” Commissioner Sarah Lopez said. “This is such a big step in the right direction for Wichita, Sedgwick County, and I appreciate all the work you’re doing for it.”

Integra’s CEO gave credit to others who have helped.

“I have to mention that it wouldn’t be possible without Greater Wichita Partnership and the Workforce Alliance that have been fantastic partners,” Robinson said.

Howell said he supports the incentive package, too. However, he also asked County staff if something would be done to help people get their GEDs so they could be eligible to work at Integra.

“Part of this workforce package is to reach out to different areas of the community that have been traditionally underserved, historically disadvantaged, maybe were disproportionately affected during the pandemic,” Shelton said. “So we’re trying to bring some people into the workforce or improve their status through that workforce program.”

Integra denied an interview with KSN, but sent a statement:

We are grateful to the City of Bel Aire, Sedgwick County and the State of Kansas for their support of this transformative project. We are also thankful to our many community partners including Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Greater Wichita Partnership, WSU Tech and many others who are making this a reality for the region,” said Integra CEO and President, Brett Robinson.