Recipients of Uncommon Citizen and Exceptional Young Leader Awards Announced

Clay Bastian (left) and Clark Bastian (right) have been named the Chamber’s 2018 Uncommon Citizens.

Clark Bastian, chairman and chief executive officer of Fidelity Bank, and his brother Clay Bastian, chairman of Fidelity Financial Corporation, are the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Uncommon Citizens. The native Wichitans and third-generation bankers will be recognized at the 55th annual Honors Night celebration on Thursday, April 26.

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.

Since joining his family’s business in 1980, Clay has been a catalyst of the Bank’s success, providing key oversight in everything from product development to investment portfolio management. As chairman of Fidelity Financial Corporation, the holding company of Fidelity Bank and its subsidiaries, Clay manages Fidelity’s real estate entities, debt securities and other investments. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he is actively involved in several community organizations, including Salvation Army of Wichita, St. James Episcopal Church, Downtown Wichita and Wichita Festivals, Inc.

Under Clark’s leadership as chairman and chief executive officer, Fidelity Bank has surpassed $2 billion in assets and employs more than 450 people in Kansas and Oklahoma. A graduate of Wichita State University, Clark has contributed his time and talents to a variety of civic and charitable organizations. Currently, Clark serves on the boards of the Wichita Community Foundation (chairman) and the Wichita State University Foundation. He recently completed two terms of service on the Ulrich Advisory Board for Wichita State University.

The Chamber has been the beneficiary of the Bastian family’s leadership dating back to Clark and Clay’s father, Marvin, who served as the Chamber Chairman in 1976 and was honored as the 1995 Uncommon Citizen. Clark has served two terms on the Chamber board (2000-2002 and 2007-2009).

Christina Long has been selected as the Chamber’s 2018 Exceptional Young Leader.

Christina Long, owner and principal consultant of CML Collective, is the Chamber’s 2018 Exceptional Young Leader. Established just last year, the award provides premiere recognition of extraordinary young talent who have a history of demonstrated leadership within their job and philanthropic involvement.

A graduate of Wichita State University, Christina has more than 15 years of experience in the field of communication and design. Dedicated to the Wichita community, she serves as the historian for Wichita Urban Professionals; as President/Chief Executive of the Create Campaign, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to helping urban entrepreneurs to launch, innovate and excel; as a leader of NetWork Kansas’ Wichita Urban E-Community; and a board member of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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

Wichita Public Schools Show Community Pride

In case you missed it, yesterday’s monthly Wichita Eagle Chamber Update contained photos and information about how the Wichita Public Schools have been working with the business community on the #ILoveWichita campaign. Three initiatives are underway.

Wichita Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson points to the new decal that will be used at Wichita learning centers.

#ILoveWichita Decals
Nearly 80 businesses and organizations have applied a Chamber-sponsored #ILoveWichita decal to their doors to demonstrate their community commitment. The Wichita Public Schools have developed their own #ILoveWichita decal that also includes #WPSProud, a popular hashtag the school system has been using to demonstrate all the positive things being accomplished throughout the District.

The new decal has been permanently installed on the main doors at the system’s Administrative Center. Watch for nearly one hundred more decals going up early next year when they are distributed to learning centers across Wichita.

Wichita Flags
During the last ten months, new School Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson and her team have incorporated their own stylized version of the Wichita flag in t-shirts and other school materials. Last month, at the suggestion of students from Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication, the Together Wichita campaign donated ninety-three 3’x5’ Wichita flags to the school system so that every learning center could show their community pride.

Ben Jennings from The Wichita Eagle manages the Together Wichita initiative and made the presentation at the District meeting. Jennings is a long-time flag enthusiast and said it was an easy decision for the Board to approve the donation, “We don’t believe this has ever been done before and we loved the idea of making it happen.”

Dr. Thompson, who has been a student, teacher and administrator for the Wichita Public Schools, said, “It’s fantastic to see Wichita flags proudly flying at schools across our district. We matter to this community, and Wichita matters to us. Together Wichita’s donation of Wichita flags to every Wichita building allows us to remind the community how important that relationship is.”

The Wichita Regional Chamber is one of twenty-one organizations working year-round on community improvement projects under the banner of Together Wichita. (See the complete listing of participants on togetherwichita.com.) Organized, staffed and managed by The Wichita Eagle, past Together Wichita projects include bicycle and walking path signage, a Memories Park, community chalkboards, the Keepers on Parade and a large Together Wichita sign to display at area events.

Jack Lynch, a Southeast High School senior, will utilize this design for the Keeper sculpture donated by Ben Hutton.

Student Art
Ben Hutton, CEO of Hutton Construction, has also generously donated a Together Wichita Keeper of the Plains sculpture to USD 259. Hutton leads the Chamber’s Quality of Place Strategic Initiative and his company participates in the Together Wichita initiative.

Jack Lynch, a Southeast High School senior, will paint the Keeper, during his final semester. The finished sculpture will be unveiled in the spring of 2018. It will then be included on the Keepers on Parade map located on the Together Wichita website.

Visit TogetherWichita.com to learn more about how your organization or company can become involved and follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Wichita Flag will soon be flying at all Wichita Public Schools

Last year, the Chamber’s marketing and communications team was invited to make a presentation about the Wichita Flag to students participating in the annual Comm Week at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication (pictured below). Stressing that the #ILoveWichita and Wichita flag movement has been fueled by partnerships, passion and pride, we asked the students to spend a few minutes brainstorming ways to widen the movement and make it more inclusive.

The students came up with a list of about eight ways to further accelerate civic pride. One of the ideas at the top of their list was to donate a Wichita flag to every school in the Wichita Public Schools system so that students could see it flying every day.

Through the power of partnerships and collaboration, Together Wichita turned that great idea into a reality this week when ninety-three 3’ x 5’ Wichita flags were donated to Wichita Public Schools, one for each of their learning centers. The flags were presented at the November 30 District Council meeting to administrators from across the district.

Ben Jennings of Together Wichita (left) and Angie Prather of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce (right) present USD 259 Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson (center) will a 3’x5’ Wichita flag at the November 30 District Council meeting. Together Wichita has purchased and donated ninety-three flags for the district, one to fly at every learning center.

Ben Jennings from The Wichita Eagle manages the Together Wichita initiative and made the presentation at the District meeting. Jennings is a long-time flag enthusiast and said it was an easy decision for the Board to approve the donation, “We don’t believe this has ever been done before and we loved the idea of making it happen.”

The Wichita Regional Chamber is one of twenty-one organizations working year-round on community improvement projects under the banner of Together Wichita. (See the complete listing on togetherwichita.com and below.) Organized, staffed and managed by The Wichita Eagle, past Together Wichita projects include bicycle and walking path signage, a Memories Park, community chalkboards, the Keepers on Parade and a large Together Wichita sign to display at area events.

School administrators also learned that Ben Hutton, CEO of Hutton Construction, has generously donated a Keeper of the Plains sculpture to USD 259. Hutton is a member of Together Wichita and also leads the Chamber’s Quality of Place Strategic Initiative. A student from the Wichita Public Schools will paint the Keeper. The finished sculpture will be unveiled sometime in 2018 when it’s completed. It will then be included on the Keepers on Parade map located on the organization’s website.

Visit TogetherWichita.com to learn more about how your organization or company can become involved and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2017 TOGETHER WICHITA PARTICIPANTS

Sean Weaver
Allen, Gibbs & Houlik

Susan Armstrong
Armstrong Chamberlin

Patty L. Sanders
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

Walter Berry
Berry Companies, Inc.

Jeff Longwell
City of Wichita

Bob Thurman
Credit Union of America

Kacie St. John
EddysEverything.com

Charles Millsap
Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch

Dr. Amy Carey
Friends University

Ben Hutton
Hutton Construction

Ben Jennings
The Wichita Eagle

Patty Koehler
JR Custom Metals Products, Inc.

Scott Schwindaman
Lubrication Engineers, Inc.

Dr. Noreen M. Carrocci
Newman University

Thomas Gentile
Spirit AeroSystems

Patrick J. Hanrahan
United Way of the Plains

Bill Voloch
Wesley Healthcare

Don Sherman
Westar Energy

Sheree Utash
Wichita Area Technical College

Gary Plummer
Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Dr. John Bardo
Wichita State University

Weller Named CFO

Sheryl Weller begins her new role on Monday, December 4.

Sheryl Weller has been named the Chief Financial Officer for both the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Wichita Partnership. Weller begins her new position on December 4 and said, “As I join the Wichita community, I’m very excited to share my expertise with these organizations for the advancement of economic development and quality of life for the entire region.”

Weller majored in Accounting at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. A graduate of the 2013 Class of Leadership Greater Topeka, she has held professional accounting and leadership positions in that community with the State of Kansas, Kansas Highway Patrol and most recently the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

Jeff Fluhr, President of the Greater Wichita Partnership, and Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said that Weller was selected based on her extensive experience and her desire to provide support for a community-focused organization and mission.

Please help us welcome Sheryl to the community.

The mission of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce is to drive economic growth and community advancement in the Wichita region.

The mission of the Greater Wichita Partnership is to align resources and focus the business community on common strategies that fast-forward economic growth in the greater Wichita region.

Sean Robinson named Director of Government Relations

Sean Robinson begins his new duties at the Chamber on October 9.

Sean Robinson will join the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce as Director of Government Relations in early October. He will direct the Chamber’s advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal level in his new role.

 

Robinson has been the Communications Director for the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas since 2016, leading communication initiatives for former Congressman Mike Pompeo and current Congressman Ron Estes. A graduate of Friends University, he holds a B.S. in Business Management with an emphasis in Marketing.

 

Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said he is confident that Robinson’s experience and skills will provide long-term benefits for Chamber members. “Sean has the key contacts and expertise required for this vital role of advocating for the best possible business environment. He’s adept at cultivating strategic partnerships and leading high-performance teams.”

 

Robinson’s first day at the Chamber is October 9. Please help us welcome him to the Chamber team.

#ILoveWichita Campaign Strengthened by Partners

Chamber Board member Ben Hutton leads the 2017 Quality of Place Initiative.

By Ben Hutton
Chamber Board Lead for the Quality of Place Initiative
Chairman and CEO of Hutton Construction

In early 2015, the Chamber initiated a very informal grassroots “pride in place” campaign centered around a hashtag proposed by the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), #ILoveWichita, and the city’s official flag. Collaborations with area businesses, media outlets, and other partners resulted in the creation of a positive platform and a microphone for those who believe in collaborating to create the best possible future for our region.

Shelly Prichard with the Wichita Community Foundation said, “Whether highlighting a person, place or activity, we use #ILoveWichita to promote all the unique happenings in our community. We’re proud to amplify the stories to both visitors and locals to encourage them to explore Wichita.”

The Quality of Place committee that I chair for the Chamber recently recommended leveraging this ongoing social media campaign in telling Wichita’s success stories and improving perceptions of the region’s quality of place. Implementing this recommendation included challenging our members to apply an #ILoveWichita decal to their front door to show community support and using the same hashtag in their company and personal social media postings.

Our Chamber Chairman and CEO Gary Plummer recently met with three of our partner organizations to invite them to participate and further strengthen the campaign. They’ve enthusiastically agreed to encourage their board members and investors to actively support the campaign.

My thanks to Shelly Prichard of the Wichita Community Foundation, Jeff Fluhr of the Greater Wichita Partnership, and Susie Santo of Visit Wichita who have committed to adopting and promoting this effort. All three are current members of the Chamber’s Board who already work diligently to ensure that Wichita is the best place to visit as well as grow a business, family and career.

Jeff Fluhr with the Greater Wichita Partnership recently applied the #ILoveWichita decal and said, “We are excited to be a partner with the Chamber in the Pride in Place Campaign. This is a dynamic time for Wichita and there is a noticeable increase in the community’s pride; we are a City of tremendous opportunities!”

We’ve also met with the current co-chairs of the Greater Wichita Partnership Perceptions Task Force (Jerry Jones, Moji Rosson and Laura Bernstorf) to brief them on our plans. We appreciate the dedication and spirit of collaboration of these three area leaders who are also supporting these efforts.

Since its inception, this campaign has been fueled by pride, passion and partnerships. The inclusion of these important organizations in our ongoing efforts will further energize and amplify the reach of the campaign and add new enthusiasm for highlighting what’s best about Wichita.

Join the effort! It’s easy for your business or organization to get involved, too. Simply contact Courtney Sendall at the Chamber (316-268-1153) to schedule a time to apply the #ILoveWichita decal to your door and begin implementing the hashtag in your social media postings. Together we can create a constantly updated digital brochure to share our passion for the region with each other, visitors to the area and other communities around the world.

See the Chamber Update page in today’s Wichita Eagle for a listing of some of the organizations and companies who have already applied the #ILoveWichita decal.

Courtney Sendall Promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications

Courtney Sendall has been promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications.

Gary Plummer, Wichita Regional Chamber President & CEO, announced today that Courtney Sendall has been promoted from Manager of Marketing and Communications to Director of Marketing and Communications. She joined the Chamber in February 2013 as a Communications Coordinator. During her career with the Chamber, she has gained both supervisory and project management experience. In her new role, she’ll assume more budgetary duties and provide additional input into overall strategic initiatives for the Chamber.

Plummer said that Sendall is an important asset to the Chamber team. “Courtney’s marketing and communications expertise are well recognized throughout the community. We’re fortunate to have someone of her caliber managing so many vital connection points for our members and volunteers while representing the Chamber throughout the region.”

Sendall is a graduate of Wichita State University and a volunteer for several organizations including the Kansas Humane Society, Make-A-Wish Kansas and Social Media Marketing World (an annual international convention).

Five Chamber Members Named Among Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies

Our congratulations to the nine companies from Wichita that were recently named to the 2017 Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list. Five of them are Chamber members.

Two of the companies have won the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year award in the past – Profit Builders & Occidental Management. Another Wichita company on the list, Elite Staffing Solutions, was a finalist for the award this year. Two other Chamber members, Freddy’s & Syndeo Outsourcing, also made the 2017 list.

In a recent news release, Chris Rickerson with Elite Staffing said, “We were the fastest growing company in the Wichita market in 2016 and among the top three in 2017. We just want to thank all of our clients for helping us reach this great accomplishment.”

You’ll find more information about the success of Elite Staffing in the September issue of Inc. magazine where the company is mentioned in a column by Editor in Chief Eric Schurenberg and a feature story by Sheila Marikar. 

McConnell selects three new Golden Eagles

by Pat Gallagher, Military Affairs, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Pat Gallagher has been a Golden Eagle since 2009.

In the 1990s the Honorary Commander program was introduced on McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) and approximately twenty local business leaders were partnered with military members on base who, when it could be arranged, had a job on base that was somewhat similar to that of the civilian with whom he/she was matched. Some Honorary Commanders became frequent visitors on base participating in group or squadron activities and any other base opportunity that was open to them.

McConnell AFB later introduced the Golden Eagle award to recognize outstanding volunteer service and as a vehicle for base leadership to thank Honorary Commanders for their exceptional dedication. Only seven civilians have been named Golden Eagles since the program started.

First among those to earn the award were Robin Spurrier (Spurrier Chemical Companies), Keith Lesher (Lesher Investments) and Bob Dool (Mid-Continent Safety).  Jack Pulley with Davis-Moore Automotive Group was the fourth Eagle selected. Rael Hodgson with State Farm Insurance was named Eagle number five and I became a Golden Eagle in 2009. Wayne Roberts with Pioneer Balloon was selected for the award in 2011.

All of the Golden Eagles have been in leadership positions with the Friends of McConnell (FOM), the civilian support organization that has provided financial support to airmen and family related programs and events on McConnell for 60 years. The FOM is an affiliate of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Frank Suellentrop with Legacy Bank is one of three new Golden Eagles.

Three Golden Eagles have recently been selected to join the McConnell Eagle rank: Frank Suellentrop (Legacy Bank); James Havers-Strong (ABI Group); and Joel Rodell (Hutton Construction). All three business leaders have been exemplary supporters of their commanders, the airmen and their families. They are worthy recipients of this unique recognition.

Col. Josh M. Olson, 22nd ARW commander said, “We welcome these three outstanding community leaders to the prestigious Golden Eagles. The group is a direct reflection of the unsurpassed support our Airmen receive from this community. We look forward to work with them as we support combat air-refueling options downrange and bring on the next generation tanker in the upcoming months.”

Rodell said, “Becoming a Golden Eagle is a humbling experience and I look forward to contributing to the program. McConnell is a tremendous asset to Wichita and the surrounding communities. The opportunity to collaborate at a deeper level and help support their mission is something I’m very excited to be part of.”

Suellentrop agreed with Rodell and added that “It’s a great surprise and honor for me. Laura and I have really enjoyed our time as Honorary Commanders.”

We congratulate the newest Golden Eagles and thank all the Chamber members who strive to make McConnell AFB a great assignment for all those serving our country. Please contact the Chamber (316-268-1157) if you’d like to learn more about how you or your company can become more actively involved with the Friends of McConnell.

How Are you Celebrating Wichita’s Birthday? (Part 3)

We have four more ideas to share with you for celebrating Wichita’s 147th birthday bash on Friday, July 21.

Increased social media activity during the @wichitaflag’s 80th birthday celebration put Wichita on the map.

Share what you love about our city with the world
Using #ILoveWichita and posting on your favorite social media channel creates a constantly updated and authentic digital brochure about the best things to see and do in Wichita. During last month’s 80th anniversary celebration of the adoption of our city flag, Chamber Board member Mark Nichols with Koch Companies said he noticed the additional @wichitaflag Twitter activity and was impressed with the quantity, quality and creativity of the posts–everything from floral flags to flag cakes. And indeed, all those great posts put @Wichitaflag on the Twitter trendsmap. Nichols said Koch employees use Yammer as an internal platform to share ideas and create a sense of community. He noticed that many of the anniversary flag posts were shared that day in a popular group Koch employees can join called “We Love Wichita.”

Newman University shows their Wichita pride year-round on their digital signage.

Put a birthday message on your digital signage
We salute those Wichita businesses and organizations that have incorporated Wichita pride messages year-round on their digital signage. They’ve contributed to the growth in city pride. Return visitors to the community have noticed the change and first-time visitors are asking questions about the city’s flag. The ABC News crew that visited Wichita in February to cover local reaction to national politics wanted to know about the symbolism behind the Wichita flag since they noticed it displayed at all the locations they visited.

Add the #ILoveWichita decal to the front door of your business or organization.
You can join more than 50 Wichita organizations and businesses that have placed a decal on their front door. It’s fast and easy. And if your front door doesn’t have the perfect location for a decal, consider placing one in your employee break room or another spot that works best for your team. Check out the videos from area companies who have shared why they love being here after they’ve placed their decal and then call Courtney at the Chamber (316-268-1153) to learn about how to join the #ILoveWichita movement.

Stacy Ward Lattin just added the #ILoveWichita decal to the front door of Hopping Gnome Brewing on East Douglas.

Download a Wichita flag coloring sheet
Our partnership with Fidelity Bank has included the development of a coloring page for children and adults with flag facts. More than 900 have been printed and distributed to area basketball camps, preschools, and other organizations that provide services for children. The two-sided sheet is free to download and print and can be found on ilovewichita.org. It was developed at the suggestion of Wichita State University students from the Elliott School of Communication who recommended that the Chamber focus on instilling community pride at an earlier age. Download it, learn some flag facts, color the sheet, complete the sentence at the bottom, “#ILoveWichita because ______,” and then share it on social media.

Check out our previous two blogs this week for suggestions about more ways to celebrate.