Manufacturing Is a Mainstay in Topeka's Diverse Economy

On Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 08:19

The factories are humming in Topeka. The Midwestern city is a center of manufacturing, and many prominent companies have production or distribution facilities in the area.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber, a Fortune 500 corporation that employs approximately 1,700 workers, invested $100 million in an upgrade to their Topeka plant. Reser’s Fine Foods, a producer of potato salad, coleslaw and vegetable salad, is expanding its Topeka plant, the largest of its manufacturing facilities.

Target completed an $80 million distribution center that created more than 600 jobs for the city. Topeka is also the birthplace of many a bag of Lays, Ruffles, Cheetos, Doritos, Funyuns, Fritos, Tostitos and Sun Chips. Frito-Lay Inc., also a Fortune 500 company, maintains a major operation in the area. The city is home to the corporate headquarters of Payless ShoeSource, another Fortune 500 name, which is one of the area’s largest employers with a work force of more than 1,700.

Additional Fortune 500 companies with manufacturing or distribution centers in Topeka include Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Hallmark Cards Inc. Jostens Printing & Publishing, producer of yearbooks, class rings, graduation products and athletic memorabilia, operates a facility in Topeka and employs more than 1,000 workers. As the manufacturing industry has gained traction in the area, the construction industry has also prospered. The greatest area employer, though, remains the public sector.

Roughly a quarter of the population earns their living from the local, county or state government. Other significant industries in the area are flour mills and iron foundries. Products produced include flour, dairy products, meats and poultry, pet foods, tires, tents, awnings, serum, steel fixtures, culverts, tanks, boxes and baskets, medicines and steel jetties. Topeka’s diverse economy offers economic opportunities to a number of business models and employees with widely varying skill sets.