Surprising and Delighting Hoops Fans!

Our thanks to Luminous Neon President Joe Ontjes said his team for making our hoop-tastic dreams come true!

We’ve been counting down the days until the region hosts the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament March 15-17. The primary tourney hotel, the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, is just across the street from us, so we have the perfect location for welcoming basketball fans, coaches and players to Wichita. But we had to get a bit creative with our welcome message since we don’t have a marquee or digital signage.

That’s where Joe Ontjes and the creative Luminous Neon Art & Sign Systems team came into the picture. The Luminous team installed a new pedestal sign for the Chamber last year as part of our rebranding initiative. Today they stopped by to install some large temporary “Welcome” decals for us. But they didn’t stop there. They decided to surprise and delight both locals and visiting hoops fans with something very special.

We’re now the proud owners of an oversized basketball backboard that’s perfect for memorable photo ops. The creatives at Luminous outdid themselves with this unique three-dimensional display that includes our favorite hashtag, #ILoveWichita.

The team at Luminous Neon created a special welcome display for basketball fans, coaches and players who will be visiting the city in March.

Luminous Neon President Joe Ontjes said his team enjoyed developing the concept and then producing the king-sized basketball goal. Ontjes said, “Although this big hoop is a departure from the business signs we fabricate daily, it’s the kind of challenge that drives our creative team to do its best work. We feel like we accomplished our mission of making the Chamber’s basketball swishes come true.”

So stop by in the next few weeks and take a selfie with our temporary hoops signage. You can post it as a welcome to the teams, coaches and fans that Wichita will be hosting during tourney week. And then get ready to celebrate at one (or more) of the events our staff has put together to maximize your hoops experience.

YPW/CHAMBER LUNCH & LEARN | “Courtside Q&A” – March 6
A Lunch & Learn for YPs and Chamber members where panelists will discuss the upcoming basketball tournament and what hosting it means for Wichita! We’ll hear from AJ Boleski of INTRUSTBank Arena, Cindy Claycomb from the Wichita City Council, and Moji Rosson of Visit Wichita. Follow this link to register.

MINGLE ON COMMERCE – March 14
Join us as we partner with Xclusive Events on Wednesday, March 14 for the Mingle on Commerce from 4:30 – 6:30 PM. Wear your favorite basketball jersey or team colors and enjoy a cash bar and food trucks. There’s no fee, so no need to register. Learn more here.

MINGLE MADNESS WITH YPW – March 15
Young Professionals of Wichita and the Realtors of South Central Kansas will host an evening mingle at Distillery 244 to celebrate all things basketball. Follow this link to register.

Spreading #ILoveWichita across the city

We like to say that the #ILoveWichita movement has been fueled by pride, passion and partnerships. Without all three, the message would not be as far reaching as it is. One example of these partnerships is with the team at Atomic Billboards. In 2016, Atomic donated billboard space to display images from Instagram that were posted using #ILoveWichita.

Now a second rendition of the campaign is underway. We’re asking you to share what you love about Wichita so that others have an authentic view of what makes our region so unique. Maybe it’s the food scene. Does the thriving art community fill you with pride? Do you love experiencing diverse cultural events throughout the year? Do you find yourself sharing images of our first-class sunsets with friends who don’t live in Kansas? Is there a high-caliber area sports team that you always support? Do you live in the friendliest neighborhood on the planet? Whatever the reason, post it on Instagram and use #ILoveWichita, then look for your image on Atomic Billboards across the city.

Also partnering with us on this campaign is M.A.D. Ad Company. Starting next week, the #ILoveWichita messages will be shown on their Mirror Billboard Displays, located in several area bars and restaurants.

Our thanks to the teams at both Atomic Billboards and M.A.D. Company for helping spread #ILoveWichita throughout our city and region. Find more info at ILoveWichita.org, and join the #ILoveWichita movement today.

YPW hires Ulises Gonzalez

Ulises Gonzalez has joined YPW as the Program Coordinator.

By Dara Quastad 

Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) is excited to announce Ulises Gonzalez has been hired as the Program Coordinator. Ulises was previously the Director of the Hispanic College Institute and the Student Leader of Inclusion & Diversity Excellence at Fort Hays State University. While at Fort Hayes, he served as the Student Body President from June 2015 to May 2016. He also has held positions at Hays Public School District and at the Broadmoor Hotel.

Ulises is a 2017 graduate of Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor of Science in Tourism & Hospitality Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.

In his new role, Ulises will oversee event and program management for YPW, manage and coach volunteers, and support membership onboarding and engagement. Ulises says that he loves Wichita because the city “embraces an inclusive community that celebrates diversity, supporting people from different backgrounds. It makes people feel like they belong, just like it did with me.”

He officially joined YPW Monday, February 19.

On Valentine’s Day (and every day), we love our interns

Written by Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer

We love our interns: Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer!

Our team has grown by two, as Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer have joined the Chamber as marketing interns.

Dara Quastad is working with Young Professional of Wichita (YPW) as their communications and marketing intern. Born and raised in McPherson, Dara has spent the past four years at Sterling College and will graduate in May with a Bachelors in Public Relations. She is a member of Pi Kappa Delta National Speech and Debate Organization, a published author in the 2017 manuscript of top speeches by the Interstate Oratorical Association, and a representative and member of the Sterling College Forensic and Debate team. After graduation, Dara plans to stay in the Wichita area and pursue a career in public relations. As somewhat of an outsider to Wichita, she will bring a unique perspective that will be helpful when teamed up with individuals from the area. When asked about the her internship, Dara replied, “I am thrilled to join the YPW team and begin working with volunteers, as I share YPW’s passion for Wichita and all this city has to offer.” Dara officially joined YPW on January 30.

Emma Meyer, a senior at Valley Center High School, is contributing to the Chamber’s marketing and communications department. At school, Emma is involved in many different activities including softball, Letter Women’s Club, National Honors Society, Women’s Choir, and many more. Emma is also a part of Valley Center High School’s Internship Program, which brings her to the Chamber. When asked about her internship, Emma replied, “I am excited about my internship at the Wichita Chamber so I can learn more about business and marketing, which will help me decide what I would like to pursue as a career.” Emma joined the Chamber on January 16 and will be here through May. Next year she plans to attend Kansas State University.

Both Dara and Emma are receiving school credit for their time at the Chamber. In Dara’s case, this internship will earn the final credits for her degree. Please join us in welcoming them both to the Chamber!

Envision’s New Workforce Innovation Center Will Accelerate Workforce Diversification

Michael Monteferrante is the President and CEO of Envision.

Where can people with disabilities learn the skills they need to find jobs in new and emerging industries? How can U.S. companies meet the growing demand for more skilled labor? Envision produced an important answer this week with the announcement of a new facility that will provide intensive training for people who are blind or visually impaired and then help place them into skilled positions around the country.

Locally-based Envision has been promoting advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision since 1933. Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante announced on Monday that the organization has hired an Executive Director, Mike May, to oversee Envision’s newest initiative, the BVI Workforce Innovation Center.

Jonathan Long is the Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement.

Jonathan Long, the Director of Community Advancement for the Chamber, applauded the new Center and the diversification it will bring to the local, regional and national workforce. Long said, “We’ll all benefit from the dedicated and highly qualified employees who will emerge from this program. They’ll enrich the work environment wherever they go.” Long has several years of employee recruitment experience for area businesses and also directs the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiative.

The Chamber commends the leadership demonstrated by this initiative and congratulates all those involved. Follow this link to learn more about the initiative from a recent Wichita Eagle story.