Update on the new Department of Labor Overtime Rule

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined a broad coalition of more than 50 other national and Texas business groups that have filed a lawsuit challenging the new Department of Labor overtime rule. A second suit was filed by a coalition of 21 states in their role as employers.

The state of Kansas has joined the lawsuit. Your Chamber is also supportive of this lawsuit.

This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6094, a regulatory relief bill that would delay the effective date of the new overtime rule for six months until June 1, 2017. All members of the Kansas delegation voted in favor of the bill.

We understand that many of you may have questions about the lawsuit, its implications, and how it may impact your to plan for the coming change in employee compensation. To help address your questions on the legal challenge, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has prepared answers to some frequently asked questions below.

Legal Challenge to the new Overtime Rule – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Q:        Who are the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit?
A:         The plaintiffs in the business groups’ diverse coalition include the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, the Texas Association of Business, more than 40 local chambers of commerce throughout the state of Texas and other business groups in Texas, and more than a dozen other sector-specific business groups. 

Q:        Why did the business groups file the lawsuit?
A:        The Department’s unprecedented doubling of the minimum salary threshold for executive, administrative, or professional employees to be considered exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will have significant adverse effects on businesses, nonprofit groups and associations, and employees. The Department of Labor’s new overtime rule will impose significant new economic costs and limit workplace flexibility, impede career and promotion opportunities, and make it harder for businesses and nonprofits to expand to meet the needs of their customers and constituents. The new overtime rule will be particularly damaging to nonprofit organizations, including trade associations and chambers of commerce, that will be subject to the rule.

Q:        What are the main legal arguments against the overtime rule?
A:        The business groups’ lawsuit advances three legal arguments against the Department of Labor’s overtime rule: (1) the excessively high salary threshold contradicts the intent of Congress to have executive, administrative, and professional employees exempt from overtime; (2) the new automatic update provision, which would impose new salary thresholds every three years without going through rulemakings, is not authorized by the FLSA, and in fact the FLSA directs the secretary to make changes to these exemptions through the notice and comment regulatory process; and (3) the Department acted arbitrarily and capriciously in promulgating its new overtime rule, in violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

Q:        What other steps has your organization taken regarding the DOL’s new overtime regulation?
A:        The U.S. Chamber and its federation of state and local partners have been highly active in this rulemaking from the outset. We met with the Secretary of Labor before the regulation was proposed, submitted extensive and comprehensive comments describing in detail the problems this regulation will cause, and have explained at every step how the Department has gone too far. The Chamber and its federation partners also sent a letter to Congress urging action to provide relief from this regulation. The letter had almost 370 groups signed on.

Q:         Will this lawsuit impact the December 1st date that the DOL rule is scheduled to go into effect?
A:         While the Chamber’s suit seeks to invalidate the regulation, when or how the court will rule on this suit is impossible to predict at this point, therefore we recommend that businesses continue to prepare to be in compliance by December 1st. We will continue to provide updates as the suit moves forward.

Please contact me or the Chamber’s Government Relations Department if you have additional questions or concerns.

Wichita’s Entrepreneurial Opportunities Expanding

Scott Schwindaman is the President/CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. He will chair the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

Scott Schwindaman is the President/CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. He will chair the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

By Scott Schwindaman
President/CEO Lubrication Engineers, Inc.
Chair Elect of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber’s current Chairman, Barry Schwan, recently wrote a column for the Wichita Eagle and the Chamber’s blog about the renewal of Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit. As Barry noted, I helped initiate and have co-chaired the Entrepreneurship Task Force (ETF) with fellow Chamber board member Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) since it started several years ago.

Two organizations, of many, critical to the success of the entrepreneurial ecosystem are the Chamber and the e2e Accelerator, an initiative of the ETF focused on activating, accelerating and mentoring entrepreneurs. I’m pleased to see a developing partnership between the Chamber and e2e that will provide multiple opportunities to highlight entrepreneurship at some upcoming events.

I’d like to encourage you to circle a few dates on your calendar where you can learn more about some of these new opportunities and connect with the people leading them.

September 29 – Innovators can make valuable connections at the Chamber’s annual business-to-business trade show, Exposure, this Thursday. More than 200 businesses will be exhibiting, including many of the ETF liaison organizations. Representatives of the newly launched e2e accelerator will staff a booth to answer questions about how to apply for their unique mentoring program and to provide details about the upcoming Accelerate the Heartland event. Connecting with the Small Business Administration representatives should also be a priority for those who want to learn more about their successful Emerging Leaders program and their range of lending options. Wichita State University’s Kansas Small Business Development Center will staff a booth to share information about their free consulting services and upcoming educational offerings.

October 5 – Formerly known as the Great Plains Capital Conference, the renamed Accelerate the Heartland event offers a full day focused on jumpstarting Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with opportunities to learn, share and network. The conference will include entrepreneurs, service providers, government, universities, mentors, investors and others who want to be part of moving new ideas, products and services forward.

December 1 – We’ll be learning from the best when internationally renowned entrepreneur and investor Daymond John takes to the stage for the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. After sharing some of his thoughts about how to position and brand new products and services, John will interact onstage with local entrepreneurs and other area leaders who are fostering and mentoring new startups.

There’s been a tremendous groundswell in the number of opportunities for area entrepreneurs to connect with the people and resources they need to succeed. And it’s been rewarding to see so many organizations developing, supporting and promoting these opportunities together. I encourage you to be part of this movement. As the current chair of the Young Professionals of Wichita, Sam Foreman, so eloquently said earlier this year, our goal is to “shorten the distance from Dream to Done.” It’s all about creating new opportunities and transforming Wichita into the “Opportunity Capital.”

Renewing Wichita’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Barry Schwan 2016 Chamber Chairman

Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman

By Barry Schwan
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.
2016 Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

If you’ve followed the work of Wichita native and economic analyst James Chung, you’ve heard him outline the four challenges facing Wichita. One of those is the Entrepreneurship Challenge. Chung’s findings indicate that Wichita is behind the curve in startup density and venture capital investments. He’s challenged Wichita to “move the needle” on entrepreneurship and drive innovation forward as we’ve done in the past.

The Chamber appreciates the efforts of two business leaders who are helping Wichita move the needle on entrepreneurship. As co-chairs of the Entrepreneurship Task Force (ETF), Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) and Scott Schwindaman (Lubrication Engineers) have spearheaded an inclusive approach to strengthening our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through their efforts, we’ve seen the emergence of e2e (Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur), a new nonprofit initiative where experienced area entrepreneurs are offering mentoring, seed money and programming to startups and scalable business ventures (see e2ewichita.com).

In addition to their involvement in ETF, both Oborny and Schwindaman are members of the Chamber board of directors. Schwindaman will take over the helm as Chamber chairman in 2017. A past Chamber chairman, Wayne Chambers (High Touch Technologies), recently donated a prime downtown location to launch the e2e Accelerator. It’s at that new site that John Dascher, President/CEO of e2e, and Accelerator Director Jacob Wayman have assembled a team who are working daily to recharge Wichita’s entrepreneurship environment.

Awareness was the first step taken by Oborny, Schwindaman and others to face Wichita’s entrepreneurship challenge. They started convening nearly 40 different organizations on a biweekly basis nearly three years ago to focus attention on the most pressing needs of our entrepreneurs and the gaps in our support of them. Our hats are off to the many loyal supporters who are still a part of that movement in the Wichita region.

One of those partners has been the Wichita district of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Entrepreneurs must have access to capital, and it was reported in August that SBA expects to achieve a near-record lending total of $85 million in fiscal year 2016 (ending September 30). That’s up more than 15% from $72.3 million in 2015. Wichita SBA Director Wayne Bell attributes the increase in lending to more awareness about the variety of financing tools available to startups. That’s a very positive step in the right direction.

We’re also impressed with some of the partnerships that private companies are undertaking. GroundWork is a startup incubator housed in the new offices of Builders Plus Construction in downtown Wichita. Builders Plus Construction CEO Chris Callen believes that entrepreneurism is the key to Wichita’s future and he’s committed to housing early-stage startups who are working collaboratively in the new space.

To further energize Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit, the Chamber has secured one of the most sought after entrepreneurial experts in the country to speak at our December 1 Annual Meeting. As a major investor on ABC’s Emmy-winning Shark Tank series, Daymond John has invested more than $8 million to date on 61 deals with entrepreneurs across the country.  And while he certainly understands the importance of venture capital investments, his most recent book also champions the “power of broke” and the importance of creativity, substance and passion in entrepreneurial ventures.

All of these “good news” activities are renewing and revitalizing Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit. The community leaders who are supporting these vital programs through financial investments, expertise and mentorship are too many to mention in this column. The Chamber applauds all of these efforts and is proud to be part of the growing network supporting the region’s businesses and advocating for the best possible business environment.

This column was originally published in the September issue of Synergy, the Chamber’s quarterly newsletter. Check this link for the full contents of the six-page issue.

Four Reasons to Attend Exposure

2016_exposure_stackedcolor_withsponsorIf you haven’t heard of Exposure, the simplest way to describe it is as ‘Wichita’s premiere business-to-business trade show and networking event’. Scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 29, the show will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Century II Expo Hall.

More than 200 businesses from across the Wichita area will be showcasing their products and services. If you are looking for products, vendors and partners, you can find them at Exposure.

Admission to the show is complimentary and open to the business community. Find more information about the show WichitaBusinessExposure.com, then register in advance (to expedite the check-in process and secure a printed name tag) here.

Two longtime Exposure attendees have shared why they attend each year and why you should too.

Carol Skaff, Owner & President at Cohlmia Marketing

Carol Skaff, Owner & President at Cohlmia Marketing

WHY DO YOU ATTEND EXPOSURE?
Carol: Networking. Learning. Generating opportunities…those are three reasons that come to mind. Wichita and South Central Kansas have an active business marketplace, and Exposure is one event where we can sample a broad array of products and services.
Brian: We use the Exposure event to identify those organizations that might consider partnering with our firm.

HOW MANY EXPOSURE EVENTS HAVE YOU ATTENDED?
Carol: At least four. The exhibitors change every year, and Exposure provides so many opportunities to learn and connect, on one day and in one location.
Brian: 10

Brian Campbell, CFO at The Specialists Group LLC

Brian Campbell, CFO at The Specialists Group LLC

WHAT DO YOU ALWAYS BRING TO EXPOSURE?
Carol: Business cards are a must. Also, I use my iPhone to take photos along the way and do some visual journaling. We usually do a staff download at our weekly meeting, and if there’s something particularly unique and memorable, we’ll have photo reference.
Brian: Business cards, a good attitude, comfortable shoes and personality.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME ATTENDEES? 
Carol: I would encourage first-time attendees to review the exhibitor list ahead of time and plot your course: people you want to see and products you want to explore. Some booths you will spend more time at because they are a primary need for your business.
Brian: I have found success in using the exhibitor list to identify the companies that I have an interest in. It’s difficult to visit all 200+ booths without a strategy in place.

WHICH BOOTHS ARE NOT-TO-MISS?
Carol: Cocoa Dolce and The Farris Wheel, for our event-planning and gift-giving needs. And we always stop by to see our partners in television, radio and print media. It’s important to our client interests to keep those relationships strong, and sometimes they roll out new opportunities at Exposure.
Brian: The sponsors along the ‘red carpet’ aisle never disappoint.

ANY FAVORITE BIZ BITE (FOOD VENDOR) BOOTHS?  
Carol: Too numerous to mention. We produce a lot of events for our clients, so visiting the Biz Bites are a must.
Brian: We don’t have many catering needs in our company, so we focus on making it to vendors that we would like to do business with.

Friends University making positive strides

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

I had the good fortune of attending a “State of the Organization” breakfast this week at Friends University in Wichita. Friends President Amy Bragg Carey updated a gathering of community leaders, faculty and boosters on major milestones hit by the University in the past year. It was an informative look at the pressures facing higher education today, including competition for students,  quality job placement for graduates, concerns about costs and rising student debt. It was these pressures, along with declining enrollment and a challenging financial outlook, that faced President Carey when she took over the helm in 2015.

The entire University community has responded well to this challenge, evidenced by the two-year Revitalization & Growth Plan adopted on campus. The plan focuses on Friends’ mission, focuses on the University’s strengths and proactively addresses the organization’s bottom line. Dr. Carey was quick to point out that the past year included some tough financial decisions, but has laid the groundwork for a turnaround at Friends University.

Of course, the success of any educational institution depends greatly on its ability to meet marketplace demands. Friends has a history of that and is nationally recognized for programs like zoology and spiritual formation. In the last year, they have also launched the first cyber security program in Wichita to meet the need to defend information infrastructure of business, government and the military. Friends also launched an innovative special education program that allows teaching licensure within a year, helping Kansas meet the increasing demand for special education teachers. Quality programs and affordability landed Friends at No. 44 on LendEDU’s 2016 College Risk-Reward Indicator. The indicator ranks institutions in terms of average student loan debt (risk) and average early career salary (reward). Friends was the highest ranking college in Kansas on the list.

At the conclusion of the presentation, one member of the audience summed up what everyone in the room was thinking: President Carey’s leadership in her first year has been the key to this turnaround at Friends. Dr. Carey deflects that credit to a supportive board and engaged team, but she certainly has built a tremendous culture on campus and is having an impact through her involvement in the Wichita Metro Chamber and other organizations. We are delighted to have Amy and Bryan as new members of the Wichita community!