Economic Development Feasibility Analysis

Gary Plummer

Gary Plummer

At its first meeting more than a year ago, the Leadership Council chose Growing Primary Jobs as its top priority along with two other priorities:  1) Diversification through Entrepreneurship and 2) Enhance Educational Attainment and Workforce Development. Of course, growth in primary jobs is also one of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce’s top priorities. (Primary jobs are defined as those that produce goods and services primarily sold outside the community, bringing payroll and wealth into a community.) Managed by the Chamber, the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition’s (GWEDC) mission is to expand Greater Wichita’s regional economy through aggressive business retention, expansion and recruitment activities.

The Chamber’s Leadership Council, a think tank of 100 top business, non-profit, and public-sector CEO’s, asked GWEDC and the Chamber what it needed to be able to double our competitiveness in this area of local business expansions here and capturing expansion projects. Business leadership identified four issues:

  • Diversification
  • Real estate solutions
  • Telling our story
  • Incentives

During last week’s GWEDC Annual Meeting, GWEDC Chairman Steve Sharp outlined the integrated plan developed to begin addressing the first three areas identified. The Chamber’s Leadership Council has taken the lead on the vital discussion of how to become more competitive in the area of incentives.

As part of that process, the Leadership Council asked the Chamber to lead a feasibility process on how to best fund more competitive incentives. To assist with that effort, the Chamber has engaged Jim East, a government relations consultant who lives in Tulsa and has extensive policy experience. East will provide additional due diligence on this issue for the business community. He will also work with the Chamber on behalf of the Leadership Council to help understand and evaluate policy issues facing the community, including jobs, and their potential funding plans. Jim has extensive experience helping municipalities, counties, businesses, foundations and nonprofits shape policy and explore funding alternatives for communities.

We know that jobs are on the minds of most Americans. The latest Gallup poll shows that Americans believe that the most important problem facing this country today is unemployment/jobs. Locally, the City has gathered feedback from 102 community meetings that demonstrates that Wichitans are most concerned with two things:  a stable long-term water source and jobs.

As we begin to broaden our discussion with our partners about what we need to do to address these concerns, it’s very clear that we must do our due diligence in researching plans and how to fund them. We look forward to sharing more information with you as we continue to study these issues.

Gary Plummer
President & CEO

The Chamber Member Impact

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Part four of a four-part series on Young Professionals of Wichita

By Suzy Finn

Executive Director Suzy Finn (pictured) joined Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) staff in 2013. As an active member of YPW for several years, Finn served as an Ambassador for the organization and a member of the YPW Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marquette University and master’s degree in business administration from Wichita State University.

Over the past three weeks, I told you about the YPW mission, and how we accomplish each part of it. Now I’ll tell you why we were formed and how you can contribute to the future success of our organization.

The Business Case

When Visioneering Wichita was formed 10 years ago, the Chamber talked with business and community leaders about the challenges facing the Wichita community. The Visioneering group created a 20-year plan to address those needs, and the next year, YPW was formed.

There were two key stats that led to the formation of YPW. The first was that Wichita was losing more young professionals than it was gaining. One of the things that led to that loss was that if employees didn’t establish relationships outside the workplace within the first 3-6 months of moving to the city or entering the workforce, they were much more likely to leave Wichita.

The second stat showed that every young professional who was raised and educated in Wichita but left was a lost investment (of public and private money) of $300,000. For every YP who left! The Destination ICT study five years later showed that, on top of that, each YP who leaves (regardless of whether or not they were raised here) causes a $51,000 economic impact loss. That is why it’s key to retain the young talent we already have and work to attract more young professionals to the city.

How You Can Help

We can only be as good as our volunteers and members inspire us to be. You can help by making sure your YP employees (ages 21-39) know about YPW and are encouraged to attend an event or join the organization. Chamber members’ employees receive a discounted membership rate of $50 per year!

Our volunteers do an amazing job of planning creative, quality programs. But  we are always looking for interesting speakers and events, and the more information our volunteers have to work with, the better ideas they pull together. If you have expertise to share, a venue to suggest, or know of a powerful and inspiring speaker, let me know.

Though we are affiliated with the Chamber, and many of our investors are also members of the Chamber, your membership dues are not spent on our programming or staff. We are sustained by our corporate investors, sponsors, and individual YP membership dues. If you believe that YPW can contribute to the future success of the city, you can help support our operations through corporate investment or sponsorship. If you’re looking for a better way to reach our YPs, whether it’s to offer them jobs or to sell them a product, our sponsorship opportunities can help you with that, too.

Just imagine what our city can look like when we have passionate, young professionals working with established business and community leaders to ensure that Wichita is a destination city.

Suzy Finn
Executive Director
Young Professionals of Wichita

Other posts in YPW series:
Part 1: “Wichita’s Talent Pool – Keeping It Deep”

Part 2: “The Diversity Difference”

Part 3: “For a Brighter Future”

FAIL Is Not A Four-Letter Word

Aaron Bushell

Aaron Bushell


A recap of the February 2014 Sunrise Scrambler by Aaron Bushell

What do Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Michael Jordan, and the Wright Brothers have in common? They share another bond besides being prominent in their chosen fields, and that is that they’ve failed many times on their journey to success. They’ve also acknowledged their failures, accepted that their mistakes were part of the learning process, ignored their critics, and learned valuable lessons that eventually led to their achievements.

Our February Sunrise Scrambler speaker has spent time studying how successful people have attained their goals through multiple missteps. Aaron Bushell, a vice president for Bank of the West, entertained Chamber members with anecdotes about the rock-bottom failures that provided some of our favorite heroes with a solid foundation for achievement. Bushell has thought long and hard about the word fail. He’s decided that the letters that make up the word FAIL can be transformed into the keys for dealing with disappointments.

F is for FEAR.  
It’s the body’s first reaction to things not going as planned. See it for what it is:  a natural chemical reaction.

A is for ACCEPT.
Embrace the fall. It means you are going somewhere rather than just standing still. Recognize that many have failed before you.  

I  is for IGNORE.
Those who criticize and laugh at your mistakes should be disregarded as distractions.

L is for LEARN.
Recongize that the lessons learned from failure will accelerate you to the next level.

Aaron shared his own personal story of how he has turned his failures into a successful and rewarding career. He also provided some inspirational quotes.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
— Michael Jordan 

“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
–Thomas Edison 

The bottom line is that success can be ours if we free ourselves from the fear of failure. Instead, we should focus on how each disappointment can actually propel us toward accomplishing our goals.

Thanks for the reminder, Aaron.

View photos from the event on our Facebook page.

And thank you to our sponsors for making events like this possible!
Presenting Sponsor – Emprise Bank
Host & Breakfast Sponsor – Museum of World Treasures
Showcase Sponsor – Davis-Moore Automotive, Inc.

For a Brighter Future

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Part three of a four-part series on Young Professionals of Wichita
By Suzy Finn

Executive Director Suzy Finn (pictured) joined Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) staff in 2013. As an active member of YPW for several years, Finn served as an Ambassador for the organization and a member of the YPW Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marquette University and master’s degree in business administration from Wichita State University.

YPW is proud of the fact that we help our members find their place in Wichita. We are even more proud of the difference our members make in the future of Wichita.

“I’m involved with YPW because, through the organization, I don’t just see changes in Wichita, I can be a part of them,” said Amanda Roth, an employee at Emprise Bank and Mosaic Team Chair. “You gain a lot of insight to the city when you speak to other YPs, and you learn where you can best put your talents to use.”

To Effect Positive Change for a Brighter Future

Our original mission statement didn’t say anything about the difference that a group of 2,200 members could make in the community. In 2012, the YPW Board changed that for two reasons. We knew that we were and had to be about more than just connecting people to each other and the community; we had to be part of creating the future community. And we knew that we were already effecting that change through our programs and people.

For example, David Friedberg of Allen, Gibbs & Houlik and the Community Relations Team Chair said, “My team’s goal is to establish YPW’s reputation as a great source for community involvement in Wichita. We want YPW to be recognized as the group local organizations can use as a source to bolster its volunteer base and whose involvement in the community is widespread and significant. Our team is constantly looking for new, engaging ways to make Wichita a better place for all.”

Joslyn Kusiak, an attorney at Klenda Austerman, LLC and Nexus Team Chair, added, “Upon first joining YPW I quickly discovered a world of future friends, colleagues, and professional acquaintances. Additionally, I saw the opportunities to easily learn about, connect to, and get involved with the Wichita community. YPW is full of energy and fresh ideas. I believe it’s a strong organization with even stronger potential to make life great for young professionals and for Wichita. I’m honored and thrilled to be a part of it all!”

Advocating for Change

Each of our action teams makes a difference in the community in some way, whether that is promoting a new business, serving with another nonprofit, or keeping young talent here when they make new social and professional connections. We also know that, with 2,200 members, we can be a voice for change in the city.

The 2010 Destination ICT study gave YPW, and several of our partners, ideas for how to make Wichita a destination for young talent. One of the priorities identified was to create Wichita as a more attractive and sustainable place to live, work, and play. A recommendation within that priority was to ensure that future development across Wichita aligns with the spirit and intent of the downtown plan.

Through the 2012 Priority Project (a collaboration between YPW, Visioneering, and the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation), citizens of all demographic groups identified as a priority increasing the options for entertainment and families in downtown Wichita. At the end of 2013, the YPW Board of Trustees voted to adopt a new initiative in 2014 that supports both of those findings – advocate for continued downtown revitalization.

We’ve already made strides in this area just by making sure our members know about the exciting things happening in the community. After reading the Wichita Business Journal’s year in-review article about downtown activity in 2013, marketing team chair Jessica Williams – an eMarketing specialist at Kwik Shop – shared it via Facebook with the following comment: “Since finding an outlet to be involved in my community, I actually knew of most of these projects and am excited for the future! Thanks Young Professionals of Wichita for allowing me to finally find the excitement and respect for the city I’ve lived in my entire life.”

In November 2013, we worked with the developers of the River Vista project to host a focus group of approximately 60 YPs to give feedback on the project and ensure that downtown development appeals to one of its target audiences.

In 2014, we will continue to find new ways to make sure our members know about the developments in downtown and provide opportunities for them to voice their ideas and opinions about how to make downtown, and therefore Wichita, a destination for young talent.

Other posts in YPW series:
Part 1: “Wichita’s Talent Pool – Keeping It Deep”

Part 2: “The Diversity Difference”

GWEDC Shares Mission at Cessna Supplier Forum

Debra Teufel

Debra Teufel

By Debra Teufel

This week GWEDC had the honor of being a presenting sponsor at the Cessna Supplier Forum.  This event attended by over 400 in the aviation industry, gave us the opportunity to showcase our Greater Wichita message to an audience of local suppliers, as well companies from around the globe.  What a perfect opportunity to share our economic development mission – marketing our region, providing a service to local business & industry, and sharing the Wichita business case to companies who we hope will consider a future location here in our great community.  

We highlighted the top factors that make Wichita a winning combination and keep us on top as the #1 U.S. Metro for Aviation Manufacturing – Labor Costs, Transportation Accessibility, Tax Climate, Energy Costs, Availability of Skilled Labor, Quality of Training, Research & Development, Construction Costs and Affordability of Real Estate, and finally the tools and resources at the State and local level for companies seeking a competitive location.  The audience had the first opportunity to see GWEDC’s newest Air Capital of the World video (coming soon!) – a collection of images showing how Wichitans built the “business of flight”.  

It was an honor to be a part of such a quality event, and to hear about the exciting new developments from the Cessna team.  We heard about the importance of partnerships, productivity, quality, speed to market, branding & promotion, innovation, winning together – all of the elements that our Wichita companies know well.  It made me proud to be a part of their day.  Thank you to Cessna for allowing us to share our message with your audience, as we work together to help our economy reach new heights. 

Debra Teufel
Vice President, Business Development
Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition

The Diversity Difference

Part two of a four-part series on Young Professionals of Wichita
By Suzy Finn

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Executive Director Suzy Finn (pictured) joined Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) staff in 2013. As an active member of YPW for several years, Finn served as an Ambassador for the organization and a member of the YPW Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marquette University and master’s degree in business administration from Wichita State University.

Diversity. It can be a loaded term, because the definition of “diverse” can change quickly based on the context in which it’s used. When many organizations talk about diversity, they are referring to diversity of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, and age – the “protected classes” in employment and discrimination laws.

For Young Professionals of Wichita, having “diverse young talent” in our city is so essential that we made it a key part of our mission statement. And it is about much more than just encouraging employers to adhere to the letter of the law or having membership statistics that reflect a certain percentage of our members falling into one category or another.

Diversity of Thought

Our members all identify themselves as professionals, but that doesn’t mean they all think alike. At our first 2014 Leadership Academy session, the 25 participants learned about their Myers-Briggs personality types. When they split into groups based on types, the instructor was shocked to see that it was the most evenly divided group he had ever seen. I believe that we would see very similar results if we expanded that to examine our whole membership.

Our members run the gamut from introverts to extroverts; engineers to artists; democrats to republicans; high school graduates to PhDs. We have members who have been in the workforce for less than one month and others who have more than 15 years of experience. While we have fewer members with children, the proportion of married to single members is fairly even, and the male to female ratio skews only slightly female. We even have members from both the east and west side of Wichita!

These under-the-surface differences, among others, are what make YPW an organization where every individual can have their voice heard.  It is essential that we have members with broad interests and experiences so that we can build a web of connectivity that exposes them to new people, places, ideas, and resources.

Diversity of Background

A look at our numbers in the traditional measures of diversity align with the overall population statistics of Wichita. We strive to build awareness about the diversity that exists in our community by planning programs that help our members understand other cultures.

Our Mosaic team is tasked with executing YPW’s diversity-focused events and programs and has planned a variety of events in the past eight years. In 2013, they gained traction for two specific types of cultural awareness initiatives. One of the ways many people are first introduced to other cultures is through food. Mosaic’s Cultural Dine Arounds are held at locally owned restaurants that feature authentic cuisine from different ethnic groups. Planned for groups of 12 or fewer, the Dine Arounds give participants a chance to try a new type of cuisine, learn about the culture from the owner or chef, and network in a smaller group than at one of our large social events.

The team also recognized that there are many different religions represented in Wichita, and they work to introduce our members to some of the less well known houses of worship in the area. During the past year, members interested in learning about different religions visited the Quakers at Friends University, St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church, a Jewish synagogue, a Hindu temple, and a Buddhist sanctuary.

In 2014, the team will continue to identify opportunities for members to experience culture through cuisine and religion. They will also partner with organizations in the community to provide opportunities for our members to volunteer and participate in large-scale diversity-related events, including the All American Indian Festival in July and ArtAid in September.

Why Should Diversity Matter to You?

Having diverse young talent in the community is crucial to the future of Wichita, in both senses discussed above. One of the Chamber’s priorities this year is Entrepreneurship, including diversifying the industries in Wichita. The Tech Alliance is working on it, having received a grant from the Knight Foundation with a focus on making Wichita attractive to world-class tech talent and entrepreneurs. The Leadership Council is working on it, with a group of business leaders and entrepreneurs discussing how to grow entrepreneurship here. And the Chamber is working with its small business advisory group to identify ways to encourage more small business creation and growth.

All that work won’t mean anything if we don’t have people ready to invest in the new businesses that are a result of these collaborations, like Richard Stevens, a YP with Martin Pringle. Research has shown that venture capital investment is positively correlated with diversity and density of a city. The reason: “…both high-tech start-ups and demand for venture capital are more likely in regions that are open to new ideas and accepting of varied sorts of people. These kinds of locations have the underlying openness to innovation and risk that attract entrepreneurs.”

The bright young talent we want to bring to and keep in Wichita is looking for the same thing – openness to new ideas, people, and innovation. We’re prepared to welcome and celebrate that diversity within the community. How will you do the same?

See Part 1: Wichita’s Talent Pool – Keeping It Deep

February 6 Chairman’s Lunch Focused on Wichita’s Economic Recovery

Chairman's Lunch

We were pleased to have a SOLD OUT crowd attend our annual Chairman’s Lunch last Thursday. The discussion-style format provided some great insight into how our local leadership views the need to strengthen our local economy. Both The Wichita Eagle and The Wichita Business Journal covered the event. Here are links to articles and photos they published:

We’ve received multiple inquiries from participants about how they can access the slides that were used to set the stage for the discussion about Wichita’s economic recovery. We’ve POSTED THEM HERE for your review.

2014 Chamber Chairman Wayne Chambers closed our discussion with an observation about the imperative components we need to bring more primary jobs to South Central Kansas.

  • A full tool box Ready sites and buildings, a trained labor force, a war chest of money or incentives that our community leaders can use when needed, and an “open for business” sign. 
  • Low and/or competitive taxes
  • A business-friendly environment  
  • A common or unified voice that “we are Wichita”
  • SpeedIt’s not the big that eat the small.  It’s the fast that eat the slow.  – Jason Jennings
    Let’s leave here today and take a page out of WSU Basketball Coach Marshall’s playbook. As a community, let’s go out and “play angry” and win the competitive game.

We’d like to recognize our presenting sponsor, Grant Thornton, LLP for making it possible to host this important discussion.  We appreciate all the sponsors who participated and supported this event as well as all of those who braved the cold temperatures to join us. Our special thanks to Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh, and our 2014 Chamber Chairman Wayne Chambers for their participation. Please check the album on our Facebook page for event photos.

Gary Plummer
President & CEO

Beth Shelton joins GWEDC

Beth Shelton
Beth Shelton has joined the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition as the Manager of Business Development. She has more than five years of economic development experience and was most recently employed as the Director of Economic Development for the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. She begins her duties on Monday, February 10.

Her primary responsibilities will be the retention and expansion of our existing industries by organizing more than 100 formal visitations to discuss how the community could help them grow. Shelton will also be a member of the team responsible for national and international marketing to generate leads for recruiting new companies.   

A graduate of Friends University and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, Shelton was the Economic Development Coordinator for GWEDC from 2008 to 2013.

“We are very excited to welcome Beth back to our team,” said GWEDC President Tim Chase. “We know she did a great job at her post in Salina, which will make her invaluable to GWEDC and the Chamber’s efforts.”