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.

How Are you Celebrating Wichita’s Birthday?  (Part 2)

Wichita’s 147th birthday bash is Friday, July 21. How are you celebrating? We shared some ideas in yesterday’s post and have five more listed below.

Hyde Elementary School proudly displays a Wichita flag.

Wave your #Wichitaflag
Gone are the days when only a handful of businesses and homes were flying the city’s official flag. Wichitans are showing their pride at home, school and work by flying their favorite civic symbol and tagging @wichitaflag on social media. Don’t own a flag, yet? Chamber members Henry Helgerson, The Workroom and Wings of the Wind Kites & Toys can set you up with various sizes of flags. Why is community pride and championing the flag imperative for rallying our city? Check The Chung Report article titled Raising the Wichita Flag and watch the Roman Mars Ted Talk about the impact city flags have on civic pride.

#FlagItForwardICT
Know a neighbor, business or organization you think would love to be part of the Wichita flag movement? Gift them a flag! A Wichitalks speaker proposed this idea last year and we think it’s a great one. This is the ultimate Wichita welcome, whether it’s for a business near you that just opened their doors or for a new neighbor who just moved to your block. And the connections built by becoming a better neighbor are imperative for growing our companies, careers and community. Visit this post from The Chung Report about the community and personal benefits of good neighboring – Good Neighboring and the Perception Challenge.

A young visitor from West Chester, Pennsylvania checks out one of Wichita’s outdoor murals.

Visit a mural
Take your picture at one of the many new murals featuring Wichita flag elements and post it on social media. What can you say about a community where three new Wichita murals went up just last weekend? We love art. The number of local-based outdoor murals has skyrocketed in the last several years. Locals and visitors are really enjoying all the new and interesting artwork and those murals are good for business. Check the Wichita Eagle story posted by Matt Riedel earlier this year about how a mural has attracted new customers for a local business. Find a current listing of mural locations at ilovewichita.org or the @wichitaflag mural Facebook album.

Area artisans are painting the Wichita flag on everything from tree stump tables to athletic shoes. This table was painted by local artist, Johnny Freedom.

Support a local artist
Stumped about how to mark a special occasion for a friend, family member or co-worker? Purchase some flag wearables or art to display at your home or office. The variety and quantity of creative folk and commercial art that Wichitans are creating is dazzling. Check the @wichitaflag accounts and look for the flag swag listing on ilovewichita.org

Watch and share flag videos
Look for these titles:

Your Wichita Flag – The Chamber produced a new video last month with member World Studios ICT that was released on the 80th anniversary of the Wichita flag. It’s received nearly 30,000 views on the Chamber’s Facebook page alone.

Resurgence of the Wichita Flag – A ‘first place’ was recently awarded by the National Federation of Press Women for the Resurgence of the Wichita Flag video that the Chamber developed last year with Washburn film student and Wichita native Ben Faires.

Check out yesterday’s post and watch for a new one tomorrow with more suggestions about how to celebrate.

How Are you Celebrating Wichita’s Birthday? (Part 1)

Wichita’s 147th birthday bash is Friday, July 21. How are you celebrating? We have some ideas to share with you in this week’s blog posts.

Attend a Birthday Celebration 
Several Chamber members are hosting special events.

Produce Your Own Birthday Bash
Offer a special discount or service for people wearing Wichita flag swag and promote it via your social media channels.

Watch for more suggestions on blog posts that we’ll publish this week.