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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita is known for its aircraft industry, but there’s a new sector taking flight.

Tech companies like Novacoast and Millennium have made Wichita home in the past few years, and NET App has grown to a much larger size in the last year.

Scot Rigby, Wichita’s assistant city manager and director of development services, said the reason is that more people are learning about Wichita.

While big cities are typically the popular choice, Rigby said Wichita’s low cost of living, less traffic, and access to a strong workforce are bringing companies into the region. 

Schools are also a key factor. Wichita schools and colleges are helping retain the workforce needed to keep these companies around.

Rigby said the local school district is focusing on STEM classes in middle and high school. This way, it can spark interest from students. 

He said state universities across Kansas have tailored digital tech programs. Wichita State even has a strong partnership with NET App for more refined learning.

Rigby said it’s all of this that has companies keeping their eyes on Wichita.

“As that word gets out, it’s kind of like a fire that grows as more and more people find out about Wichita and find out about what are the opportunities here that we’re getting more and more interest,” he said.

Rigby says he is getting more inquiries from companies across the country.

He expects tech to be an industry that continues to grow in the area and be a leader in Wichita’s economy.

“We’re getting more and more inquiries from companies across the country saying, ‘What’s this Wichita?’ ‘What’s the opportunity?’ ‘Why did Novacoast, Millennium, and these other companies pick here?’ ‘Is this a place where I can come and find that workforce and not have to compete with the price and cost of living in other larger metros?’” Rigby said.

He said the growth in the industry is taking off like a wildfire, and the state’s efforts to advertise and work closely with tech groups are changing the business landscape. 

Rigby didn’t have an exact number for how much these companies bring into the Wichita economy but said tech is near the top of the list as it continues to grow.