Cargill celebrates grand opening of new Wichita headquarters

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WICHITA, Kan. Cargill Thursday celebrated its grand opening in downtown Wichita with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The four-story building opens with about 800 employees.

The company says there's a capacity for about 950.

"We think it's a world-class space that really is just going to feed innovation and collaboration and be a great place, not just for these employees, but for that next generation of employees that we're trying to recruit into Wichita," says Cargill Corporate Vice President Brian Sikes.

The facility at the site that used to be home to The Wichita Eagle at 825 E. Douglas, is Cargill's headquarters for its North American protein business that sells globally, Sikes says.

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell Thursday said Cargill's decision to stay and grow in Wichita "validates Wichita as a city that you can grow in and compete in and recruit talent to come to."

He says while competing with other cities for Cargill's headquarters was stressful, it's a process that he's pleased Wichita was able to go through.

"...We don't win Cargill if the entire community doesn't come together from the state all the way down to the local level," Longwell says. "And people, all of us sprinkled throughout the community and their employees... (Cargill's) employees fought really hard to say, 'we want to stay in Wichita,'"

Ahead of Thursday's groundbreaking and grand opening, Eyewitness News got a sneak peak inside the building.

One of the first things you'll notice when you walk into this new building, is just how open it is, and that's done on purpose, an opportunity for employees to collaborate.

The 188,000- square-foot, four-story building took about 14 months to complete.

Cargill tore down the old Wichita Eagle building on Douglas and transformed it into a modern office building, home to Cargill's North American protein business.

It's complete with conference rooms allowing employees to collaborate with other employees or customers anywhere in the world.

Windows are everywhere, giving employees light and views, while giving the public a look inside.

From the open meeting areas, to the cafe, Tom Windish, President of Cargill's Retail Channel, said employees had input throughout the entire design process.

"That feedback came directly from our employees that they wanted to be downtown, a place where they could shop, that they could go out to eat and have access to the outside, the outdoors and be a part of a vibrant, growing downtown community," said Tom Windish, President of Cargill's Retail Channel.

Windish said the $70 million building would not be possible without the partnership it has with the city and state.

It's a long-term commitment, he says, to attract and retain the very best talent Wichita has to offer. "It was important for us to be a big part of the community and a good neighbor."

Employees began to move into the new building in October - with everyone in place by around Thanksgiving.