Sitting on the sidelines isn’t optional

by Damon Young
Vice President of Mahaney Roofing Company, Inc.
Member of the Government Relations Committee for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Chamber’s Political Action Committee

The political process shares some similarities to our favorite sporting events. There’s a lot of fanfare. Passion for teams or candidates is demonstrated by wearing certain colors, waving signs and chanting slogans. Small fortunes are spent on promotional advertising. And the winners find themselves leading a noisy victory parade.

Damon Young

Damon Young believes that participation from all eligible voters is critical to our success.

But the political process differs from sporting events in one very important and personal way. You don’t have to wait for the coach’s signal to jump into the game. You should be tuned in, analyzing the game plan and taking decisive action. In fact, there shouldn’t be anyone sitting in the stands or on the bench waiting for their cue to participate.

And you don’t have to depend on professional recruiters to scout out the best candidates. You can be encouraging those who can make a real difference to get in the game. It’s easy to complain about the quality of the candidates on the ballot competing to represent us. But chances are you personally know leaders who are well qualified to make good decisions. Your encouragement and support of their candidacy can be game changers.

City, county, state, and federal elections help determine how much of your paycheck you’ll take home, how many new regulations will apply to the business you own, how much you’ll pay for your water, and the quality of the education your children will receive. Actively participating in the political process and electing candidates who represent your values, ideals and interests is the best way to influence your future and profoundly impact the economic viability of your community, state and country.

I’ve been involved in the Government Relations Committee for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce since I was in my late twenties. At my first meeting I noticed a distinct absence of people my own age who were involved in the Committee. I had a dozen plausible excuses for not returning for the second meeting. But I committed to showing up, listening and learning as much as I could. How else could my generation’s viewpoint on those issues be heard? How else could I eventually make a difference for my family, employer, and community?

After more than ten years of active participation on that committee, I have a deeper understanding of the local, state and federal issues that affect the business community. And I’ve seen firsthand how the Chamber’s advocacy has impacted the financial viability of area businesses, including my own employer. Our company’s bottom line has directly benefited from the recent update to the state’s unemployment formula, reforms to the Kansas Workers’ Compensation Act, and the State Income Tax savings. These economic impacts are directly attributed to advocacy and the rewards are in turn invested back into our people and our community.

Of course, the Chamber’s focus is on the issues and candidates who influence the business environment. Having a champion for Wichita business at the city, state, and federal levels is one of the most valuable aspects of Chamber membership.  And that advocacy will be even more significant in this important election year.

It’s daunting to dive in and try to become an expert on every issue and candidate on the ballot, so start by selecting two to three issues that matter the most to you. Maybe you’re passionate about energy, healthcare, education or immigration issues. You’re going to have to dig deep. Read background materials from both sides, ask questions and seek out trusted sources. Then, discuss the information with your peers in a civil and educational way. Each of us have a responsibility to get beyond the stereotypes and caricatures that inundate us and engage in our own education. The community discussion by informed voters is one of the best possible outcomes of your involvement, regardless if your side ‘wins.’

Remember that participation from all eligible voters is critical to our success. Election results rest on the shoulders of every voter. Register to vote, participate in discussion forums, and mark the primary and the general election dates on your calendar, Tuesday August 2 and Tuesday, November 8. Your job and the future of your community and country depend on it.

In case you missed it, Damon’s editorial originally ran in The Wichita Eagle on Sunday, February 28.

Other helpful links:
State of Kansas – Registration & Voting
2016 Kansas Democratic Party Senate District Caucuses – March 5, 2016
2016 Kansas GOP Presidential Caucus – March 5, 2016

 

Taking Pride in Wichita

In case you missed it, Dan Powers, Office Managing Partner for Grant Thornton LLP, contributed this letter to the editor that ran in the Wichita Eagle last Sunday.

There’s a great deal that makes me proud to be a Wichitan.  Nationally-recognized companies headquartered in our backyard. Being recognized as the Air Capital of the World. A thriving arts and cultural scene.

But I understand there’s room to improve in Wichita, similar to most cities.

Dan Powers, Office Managing Partner of Grant Thornton LLP, shared his thoughts about working and living in Wichita with Chairman's Lunch participants on Thursday, February 11.

Dan Powers, Office Managing Partner of Grant Thornton LLP, shared his thoughts about working and living in Wichita with Chairman’s Lunch participants on Thursday, February 11.

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s recent Chairman’s Lunch brought together city, county and chamber leadership to discuss the four challenges that most plague Wichita: business cycle, human capital, entrepreneurial and perception (Feb. 12 Eagle). While these challenges are complex, other communities have successfully tackled similar hurdles. I’m proud to report that our community’s leadership echoed that we, Wichita, will do the same.

But is it just up to our elected officials? To the businesses that promote Wichita as a place to live and work? No. It’s up to every single one of us. We’re already making great progress in each of these four areas, but are we communicating the activities already underway? Are we encouraging our peers to participate? Inspiring our neighbors to get involved?

I ask you to stand in support of Wichita – the great community we are today, and the better community we’ll be tomorrow. Acknowledge that while we have work to do, we plan to do it together. Elected officials, business leaders and citizens working side-by-side will help us regain speed on a positive, economically impactful route.

The challenges Wichita faces are significant and the consequences of failing to address them are profound. Nevertheless, events like the Chairman’s Lunch give me hope that, together, with a shared vision of the future, we’ll continue moving this great city forward.

Let’s go make and be Wichita Proud.

Follow these links for more information about the Feb. 11 Chairman’s Lunch.
Videos
Event Photos
Wichita Eagle article and video
Wichita Business Journal article and photos

Videos from Chairman’s Lunch now available

Thank you to all who attended our Chairman’s Lunch last week where representatives from the City, County and Chamber discussed how to move the needle on the four drivers of economic success that James Chung presented during the Wichita Community Foundation’s Focus Forward initiative last fall.

Videos that were shown at the event are now available on our YouTube channel. Please feel free to share with your networks and continue the conversation about what we can each do to move Wichita forward.

Chairman’s Lunch Playlist

View Event Photos

Media Coverage
Wichita Business Journal – “Chamber panel optimistic about city’s future”
Wichita Eagle – “Chamber lunch: Leaders hope to create Wichita economy 2.0”

2016 Chairman's Lunch panel included Sedgwick County Manager Michael Scholes,  Sedgwick County Commission Chair Jim Howell,  City of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, City of Wichita Manager Bob Layton. and	2016 Chamber Chair Barry Schwan (pictured from left to right).

2016 Chairman’s Lunch panel included Sedgwick County Manager Michael Scholes, Sedgwick County Commission Chair Jim Howell, City of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, City of Wichita Manager Bob Layton. and 2016 Chamber Chair Barry Schwan (pictured here from left to right).

Apps & tools to save time & money

A recap of the February 2016 Sunrise Scrambler

Everyone knows that time is money, and saving more of both is a high priority. Our February Sunrise Scrambler featured a panel of members who shared their favorite apps and tools that make doing business easier and more efficient. A recap of the main takeaways is below.

Big thanks to Todd, Jennifer, Mark, Tori and Joshua for being a part of our panel.

Big thanks to Todd, Jennifer, Mark, Tori and Joshua for being a part of our panel.

Before we jump into the recap, we’ll share a favorite among our staff. The free Title Farm app allows users to create fun and unique videos by simply adding animated titles to a photo. It was developed by a Wichita entrepreneur and has several Wichita-themed animations that we encourage you to use to express your Wichita pride. See several examples in this short video. Then tweet us @ventureboldly and let us know what app/tool you would suggest.

PANELIST: Mark Chamberlin | @WichitaPR
BIZ:
Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Armstrong Chamberlin | @ACAdAgency
APP: MileIQ – see below for paid discount code*
COST: Free version allows 40 trips per month/$5.99 per month for unlimited
VALUABLE BECAUSE:

  • It automatically tracks the miles he drives so he doesn’t have to.
  • It has a very user-friendly interface that works seamlessly across all devices.
  • Robust reporting module for easy documentation for work and the IRS.

*MileIQ will give anyone who signs up through our scrambler a 20% discount if/when
they decide to upgrade from the free version to the paid version. To earn the discount,
access the MileIQ app site through this link: https://www.mileiq.com/invite/XDYHC

PANELIST: Jennifer Szambecki | @JSzam
BIZ:
Director of Innovation & Partnerships, Kansas Turnpike Authority | @KansasTurnpike
APP: Evernote
COST: Free version works perfectly for Jennifer. Paid version starts at $24.99 per year.
VALUABLE BECAUSE:

  • It organizes all notes, articles and documents by multiple categories using notebooks and tags.
  • Provides access to years of background information that can be easily searched to inform current conversations and decisions.
  • Everything syncs in the cloud so can go from iPad to desktop to iPhone without missing a beat.

PANELIST: Joshua Hensley | @joshua_hensley
BIZ:
Marketing Advisor, RSA Marketing | @rsaconnect
APP: LinkedIn Sales Navigator
COST: $79.99 per month
VALUABLE BECAUSE:

  • It provides unlimited search on LinkedIn for the people he needs to contact at any particular company.
  • The Lead Builder inside the app helps him find new leads – leads located anywhere in the country that he may not normally have contact with.
  • He can InMail most anyone he chooses with this feature.

PANELIST: Tori Deatherage | @heretowine
BIZ:
Marketing Director, Kansas Surgical Arts | @KSSurgicalArts
APP: Word Swag & Studio Design
COST: $3.99/Free
VALUABLE BECAUSE:

  • Saves Time. Time is money.
  • The apps are easy to use, clean, and well organized.
  • Both are great for all skill levels; you can let them do the legwork for you or get as creative as you want.

Check out the PowerPoint from this morning’s event, then view event photos on our Facebook page. Special to our Sunrise Scrambler sponsors, Emprise Bank and Holiday Inn Wichita East I-35!

Next month’s Sunrise Scrambler is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 and is titled “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Performance.” You can see more details and register here.

2016 SBA Emerging Leaders program kicks off this Friday

By Lyndsey Edwards

Are you a small business owner looking to grow your company in Kansas? The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Emerging Leaders program can help you take your business to the next level.

Emerging LeadersThe Emerging Leaders Program is a class designed to specifically focus on the professional development of existing businesses ready for growth in Kansas – offered at no financial cost.

During the seven months, participants will learn to emerge a self-sustaining business with a three-year strategic growth action plan with benchmarks and performance targets that creates jobs and build communities. Participants will also have access to a network of peers and business leaders who continue to provide support and accountability as the growth plan is implemented.

2014 was the first year for the program to be offered in Wichita. In 2015, sixteen Wichita-area business professionals graduated from the program, including these seven chamber members:

Lynne Bird, Robi Lorik, Jeff Jones, Scott Wegerer  and Rob Whitmer

Lynne Bird, Robi Lorik, Jeff Jones, Scott Wegerer and Rob Whitmer

  • Lynne Bird of Wichita Stamp & Seal, Inc.
  • Jennifer Caughron of KeyCentrix, LLC
  • Robi Lorik of PWI, Inc.
  • Jorge Montoya of JMT Industries, Inc.
  • Scott Wegerer of Five Star Mechanical, Inc.
  • Rob Whitmer of Net-Ability, LLC
  • Jeff Jones of Tru-Building, Inc.

Jones said what he liked most about the class was that he was able to develop a clear, concise three to five year plan with great input from other business leaders, not only in class, but from the community as well. From the program, he gained great friends who are in similar business situations and also, a clearer understanding of what his strengths and weaknesses are. “Anyone serious about their business should commit the time to study with others about their business,” he said.

The program is offered for any businesses who meet the following criteria:

  • An established business (in existence for at least three years)
  • Annual gross revenues between $300,00 and $10 million
  • Have three or more employees (recommended)
  • Time commitment of the business owner, or executive “decision-maker”, to dedicate themselves to attend all thirteen classes and develop a strategic growth plan (a 100+ hour commitment).

The 2016 class will begin in April. Those interested in participating are invited to attend a free, one-hour information session this Friday, Feb. 19 from 3 – 4 p.m. at the Small Business Administration Office. Executives from the 2015 class will be available to answer questions and provide feedback.

Applications for the program are being accepted now until March 1. For more information, visit the SBA website or click here to apply.

Honors Night award recipients announced

The Wichita Metro Chamber will recognize an outstanding individual, exemplary corporate citizens, exceptional commitments to the community, and striking architectural achievements at the 2016 Honors Night event on April 7. In addition to the Uncommon Citizen, Spirit of Wichita, Over the Years and Keeper of the Plains awards, the Ad Astra award will be given for only the third time in the history of the program.

The 2016 award recipients are as follows:

Pauly, Marilyn_cropEstablished in 1974, the Uncommon Citizen is the Chamber’s most prestigious individual award. It recognizes those who, by their individual efforts year after year, have made uncommon contributions to the people and institutions of Wichita and the surrounding area. Recipients are honored not only for their role in business but for their participation in cultural, civic, social and philanthropic activities. This year’s recipient is Marilyn Pauly, Vice Chairman of Commerce Bank.

The recipient of the Spirit of Wichita award is McConnell Air Force Base. Established in 2002, The Spirit of Wichita Award recognizes businesses or not-for-profit organizations that have previously been given the Over the Years award. The organization’s culture must be basically the same as when it received the Over the Years Award a minimum of 20 years ago with employment, leadership, innovation and community involvement continuing to be strong.

The three recipients of the Over the Years award are: High Touch Technologies; Starkey Inc.; and Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. The Over the Years Award recognizes businesses and institutions with long-standing performances as good corporate citizens and major contributors to the community’s economic well-being; displaying leadership, innovation and community involvement.

The recipient of the Keeper of the Plains award is Kansas Leadership Center. The Keeper of the Plains Award recognizes an outstanding architectural achievement completed by a firm, organization or individual, which has contributed to the beauty of our community.

The recipient of the Ad Astra award is Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. Created in 2001, the Ad Astra award honors outstanding achievements in the community that are worthy and deserving of recognition, but which aren’t necessarily aligned with any of the awards already established. This is only the third time the award will be given, following Exploration Place in 2001 and INTRUST Bank Arena in 2011.

“Each award is bestowed in recognition of a unique contribution to the enhancement of our community,” said Gary Plummer, Chamber President and CEO. “This year’s Honors Night committee thought it was fitting to not only name recipients for our annual awards, but also to recognize the landmark achievement of our city’s new airport with the Ad Astra award. Please join us in congratulating all of our award recipients.”

Honors Night 2016 is presented by Metro Courier, Inc. and will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at Beech Activity Center, 9710 E. Central. Tickets are now available for $90 per person or $720 for a table of eight and can be purchased online at wichitachamber.org/HonorsNight.

Formal invitations will be sent to Chamber members, but the general public is also invited to attend.

Sponsorships are still available. Contact Rachel Groene at 268-1127 for more information.

Marilyn Pauly: 2016 Uncommon Citizen

Pauly, Marilyn_cropMarilyn Pauly, Vice Chairman of Commerce Bank, will be recognized as our 2016 Uncommon Citizen at the annual Honors Night celebration on Thursday, April 7.

Established in 1974, the Uncommon Citizen is the Chamber’s most prestigious individual award. It recognizes those who, by their individual efforts year after year, have made uncommon contributions to the people and institutions of Wichita and the surrounding area. Recipients are honored not only for their role in business but for their participation in cultural, civic, social and philanthropic activities.

Marilyn has dedicated herself to her family, job and the city of Wichita for many years. She began her banking career at the Fourth National Bank and currently fills the role of Vice Chairman at Commerce Bank. A graduate of Wichita State University, she has received numerous business and civic awards and honors.

During her career she has donated countless hours to various local organizations. She currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Wichita State University Foundation in addition to serving on the following boards:  YMCA of Wichita, United Way of the Plains, Heartspring Foundation and Women of Wichita, Inc.

“Marilyn Pauly’s roots as a trailblazer in business and community affairs go back 47 years, to her first part-time job in banking while she was getting her business degree at WSU,” Wichita State University President John Bardo said. “Her rise to professional prominence has run parallel to her public service contributions, and we benefit today from her leadership of the WSU Foundation Board of Directors and her unstinting support for the university.”

Her love for Wichita is evidenced by her desire to continually give back to the city. “I can’t imagine living anywhere but here,” she said. “The professional opportunities, deep-rooted friendships and philanthropic organizations I’ve been able to engage with are truly immeasurable.”

Look for the announcement of the remaining Honors Night awards recipients next week. Reservations for Honors Night may be made online. For tickets and additional information, visit wichitachamber.org/HonorsNight or call 316-268-1123.