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Florida company announces move to Hays

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

With a vision of tapping into a burgeoning market for power engineering, a Florida company plans to launch a new business in Hays later this summer.

Advanced Manufacturing & Power Systems, DeLand, Fla., in partnership with Lionchase Holdings, Washington, will expand to Hays to provide energy solutions to utilities and stationary power users.

Ken Brown of Lionchase Holdings spent Monday and Tuesday in Hays finalizing plans with Aaron White, executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development. Brown said he is looking for temporary space to house the business, which likely will start with five employees and expand to 50 within 18 months.

"Our goal is to have some very specialized, talented people here," Brown said. Employees would be trained to provide more than engineering services, branching out into providing financing and equipment options.

"We're trying to come up with something that is turnkey," he said. "Look at specific solutions and say 'Here are all the things you can do and here are the ways we can configure it.' "

The decision to locate the company in Hays, Brown said hinged to a large degree, on relationships built with White, whose office was responsive to requests and provided resources and information in a timely manner to leaders at AMPS and Lionshare.

In addition, Brown said Kansas has a "great labor pool and strong base for technology advancement, innovation, research and development."

There is a nationwide demand for power engineering, which is changing the way businesses and individuals think about resources and equipment, Brown said.

"I believe you're going to see more and more people less inhibited to look at local generation solutions," he said. "As folks change in their thinking about local power, and not going to power companies for everything, I think it's going to enable power companies to do what they do best, which is transmission, and looking at large scale solutions."

Discussions between White and Lionchase Holdings began about two years ago, White said, when he was employed by the Salina Chamber of Commerce. He continued the relationship with Brown, exploring various project options in Kansas.

"We thought that Hays was a better fit for the AMPS project that we're bringing here," White said.

Moving forward, AMPS will be working to determine a specific site to locate a temporary office. White's staff also will be aiding the company in its recruitment efforts.

"They're looking to land five employees to hit the ground running," White said. "Technical background, who are good at verbalizing technical concepts.

"Not necessarily an engineer, but someone who has some solid fundamentals of mechanics and knows a little about diesel engines."

Another benefit to AMPS's expansion into Hays, White said, is the jobs created by the company will not be in competition with other local companies.

"They're very different types of professional positions," he said. "White-collar with a blue-collar background. That's the target the community was seeking, so it's nice to bring a business to fill that niche."