PITTSBURG, Kan. —
A ribbon-cutting at a Pittsburg corporation represents the “cutting edge” of what could happen in Southeast Kansas as a result of a free trade agreement with South Korea, Gov. Sam Brownback said Monday.
City and state officials, representatives from Pittsburg State University and Fort Scott Community College, and business partners from South Korea’s ED Corp. were among those on hand for the grand opening of Sapience Corp., 428 W. Fourth St.
The company, founded by Pittsburg resident Dave Holloman, is the sole distributor of ED Corp.’s advanced robotic technologies.
“We market intelligent robots, automated manufacturing and engineering training systems primarily to secondary and postsecondary schools,” said Holloman.
Brownback told those at the opening that “this really represents the cutting edge of what we can do together.” He noted that The Boston Consulting Group predicted that 800,000 manufacturing jobs might be generated as a result of the free trade agreement.
“My hope is there will be a number of other Korean companies, manufacturing companies, that we would be able to talk with about processing and product manufacturing in Southeast Kansas,” Brownback said.
Holloman said he and ED Corp.’s president, Yong-hoo Park, came to a decision for the partnership about 2 1⁄2 years ago, just as the economy tanked. He said he anticipates the company will be able to employ as many as 25 to 30 people in the next few years.
Clayton Tatro, president of Fort Scott Community College, was on hand to announce a partnership with Sapience. The college offers 45 percent of its credit hours in occupational programs and technical education, and it plans to use the advanced technologies in training programs.
“Work force development is something we do, and something we do well, and something we take pride in,” Tatro said. “We take a lot of pride in putting people to work. We intend to get started primarily in the areas of hydraulics, pneumatics and electronics, working in cooperation and partnership with our HVAC program, John Deere and Harley-Davidson, as well. There is a lot of overlap in training programs that will take place.”
Holloman said he hopes the corporation “will be a carrot to lure business and industry — specifically manufacturing — back to Southeast Kansas.”
GOV. SAM BROWNBACK said that while the company has “humble beginnings,” he sees its opening as a “significant event” for the Southeast Kansas economy.