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The Associated Press December 22, 2011, 1:49PM ET

2 companies expanding operations in Kansas

Two companies announced plans Thursday to expand their operations and create new jobs in Kansas, while an Indian company said it would establish its first North American facility in the state.

The announcements by API Foils, Newell Rubbermaid and Prathista Industries Ltd. follow news a day earlier that OptumRx, a mail-service drug prescription company in Overland Park, would be expanding its operation.

"We are working hard to promote the benefits of Kansas as a great place for business," Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Pat George said.

API Foils is moving its headquarters from New Jersey to Lawrence, bringing 17 new jobs to Kansas. The company manufactures hot stamping foils for the packaging, printing and embossing industries. API Foils employs 52 people at the production plant in Lawrence that it established in 1995.

Rubbermaid plans to invest $26 million in its Winfield plant in south-central Kansas, moving 200 jobs from Texas. The Winfield plant will add the production of outdoor refuse and home organizational products to the facility.

George said the news was validation of the Rubbermaid work force at the Kansas facility, which has been making water coolers since 1916, first out of metal and then plastic.

Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement that the Rubbermaid expansion was a "much needed" boost to the Cowley County economy.

The company will also build a new 500,000 square-foot distribution center next to Winfield site. The expansion projects are scheduled to be completed in 2012.

Prathista Industries Ltd. of India announced Thursday that it would build a research and development center in Manhattan in partnership with Kansas State University, its first facility in the United States. The company manufactures animal health and fertilizer products.

Prathista also has operations in Uganda, the Philippines and the Netherlands and will create 10 research positions initially in Kansas, with the goal of adding 50 production jobs in the coming years.

George said the announcements reflect the administration's efforts to improve the Kansas economy.

"Our state has a lot to offer, but we must continue to focus in 2012 on policies that will promote more growth and allow us to compete," he said.

Brownback will propose a tax reform package in January when the 2012 Legislature begins. He has said he wants to reduce the state's marginal income tax rates to make Kansas more competitive with its neighbors in attracting businesses.

Kansas currently has an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.

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