Wichita Regional Chamber Supports WSU/WATC Affiliation

Today I testified in Topeka before legislators in support of S.B. 174 concerning higher education. The bill authorizes the affiliation of Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) with Wichita State University (WSU).

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

Both of these institutions are vital assets for the economic growth of the south central economy. The Chamber supports the proposed affiliation since it will provide growth opportunities for students at both institutions and benefit the business community.

Others testifying today in Topeka include:
–Blake Flanders, President and CEO, Kansas Board of Regents
–Jeff Fluhr, President, Greater Wichita Partnership
–Sheree Utash, President, WATC
–John Bardo, President, WSU
–Lyndon Wells, Community Volunteer

Written testimony was provided by:
–Sam Sackett, Senior Manager of Government Relations and Corporate Communications, Spirit AeroSystems
–Shelley Hansel, Mayor of Wellington, KS

Chamber testimony
SB 174 WRCC

Entrepreneurship changes lives

"Team Wichita" prepares to hit the stage for the evenings event.

“Team Wichita” prepares to take to the stage for the evening’s event. From left to right: Scott Schwindaman, Christina Long, Barry Schwan, Gary Plummer, Angie Elliott, Rachel Douglass, Trevor Crotts and Miguel Johns.

Enthusiastic entrepreneurs from as far away as Joplin, MO, attended the Chamber’s  Annual Meeting last night to hear our keynote speaker and entrepreneurial expert, Daymond John. We’ve heard many favorable comments about his inspirational message, the inclusiveness of the event, and the showcasing of so many talented young entrepreneurs during the networking portion of the evening and on stage.

Our thanks to our dedicated sponsors who recognize the value of expanding and promoting Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. And our special thanks to all who attended and demonstrated to local entrepreneurs that Wichita wants to provide more opportunities for local innovators.

Some of our favorite tweets from the event are shared below and you’ll also find links to the videos that were shown last night, the Wichita Eagle’s coverage by Dan Voorhis and images from the evening.

VideosSponsors, Wichita Chamber:  Activation, Incubation & Acceleration,
Wichita Eagle storyWichitans have no problem swimming in the ‘Shark Tank’
Facebook Album2016 Annual Meeting with Daymond John

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andrewsjohnsonbernstorfclarycml-collective-2

 

Wichita is UnpredICTably Amazing

Chamber Board members Dr. Norreen Carrocci from Newman University and Dr. Cindy Claycomb from Wichita State University stopped to take a closer look at the infographic local young creatives developed. The Chamber turned the infographic into a banner that was displayed at the November meeting of the Board of Directors.

Chamber Board members Dr. Noreen Carrocci from Newman University and Dr. Cindy Claycomb from Wichita State University stopped to take a closer look at the infographic local young creatives developed to promote Wichita. The infographic was turned into a banner that was displayed at the November meeting of the Board of Directors.

We’ve had a great response to the infographic that was published in the Wichita Eagle last week as part of our monthly update. Mary Eves of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices contacted us to let us know that she thought it was a valuable tool for realtors. Eves said, “I loved the concept and the proactive way it reaches millennials, and even those of us who aren’t millennials.”

We’re sharing that monthly update again on our blog just in case you missed it. You’ll also find instructions for downloading the UnpredICTably Amazing infographic to incorporate in your own recruitment packages.

At the Chamber we’ve turned the infographic into a banner that we’ve been displaying in our Board Room and we’ve added a digital version of it to our website.

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11 reasons why millennials are proud to call Wichita home

Wichitans have been sharing all the unique things they love about their city through a Chamber-led #ILoveWichita social media campaign since early 2015. With nearly 5,000 posts on Instagram and almost 2,000 posts on Twitter, people from across the community have created an authentic and constantly-updated digital brochure with images showing the best places to eat, drink, shop, work and experience cultural events in Wichita.

A group of young professionals took that campaign a step further last month by creating an infographic titled UnpredICTably Amazing. Five creative teammates at Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) turned their favorite aspects about living and working in the community into a visually appealing format that can be shared with their peers around the nation.

One of the creatives on the SHS team, Jamil Malone is also a member of the Chamber’s Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). Malone said, “We decided that Wichita deserves to be highlighted as the unpredictably amazing community that we experience every day. We wanted to help promote our community and accelerate the #ILoveWichita conversation.”

Our thanks to Jason Comerford, Austin Hillard, Jamil Malone, Mike McCoy and Meg Stessman for clearly demonstrating that the single best thing about Wichita is the passion, generosity and creativity of the people who live and work here.

Visit ilovewichita.org
Love this infographic? Want to post it on your own website? Turn it into a recruitment poster for your company? Use it to launch a conversation in your organization about what makes Wichita so special? Share it on social media? Visit ilovewichita.org for several different formats that you can download and use for free. And be sure to give those incredible creatives on the SHS team a shout out for giving us all another great way to promote Wichita.

Chamber Doubles Down on Education Policy

A new policy group at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce will give business a stronger voice on future education issues, particularly at the state level.

Barry Schwan 2016 Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Barry Schwan
2016 Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Barry Schwan, 2016 Chamber Chairman, announced the creation of the Chamber’s Education Policy Task Force consisting of representatives from the Wichita Metro Chamber’s Government Relations Committee (GRC) and from the Business & Education Alliance (BEA) at the Greater Wichita Partnership. Co-chairing the task force are Walter Berry and Lyndon Wells, who chair the GRC and BEA, respectively.

Schwan said the task force will start by focusing on two areas:  1) understanding changes to Kansas funding formula for K-12 education and the potential impact on Wichita Public Schools; and 2) working to expand the region’s workforce development capacity through both public and private resources.

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has been engaging members of the BEA in developing the Chamber’s education agenda since forming the BEA in 2012. The BEA is comprised of leaders from the business community, educational institutions and nonprofits interested in supporting a strong education system, from K-12 to higher education. “Through the BEA, the dialogue between business and education has resumed and significant improvement in cooperative advocacy has occurred which will continue to help our region grow an educated workforce that will meet the needs of our industries,” stated co-chair Lyndon Wells. Some of the issues on prior Wichita Metro Chamber state legislative agendas have included funding for the National Center for Aviation Training, more spending flexibility for local districts, technical training programs and increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

In 2016, the Wichita Metro Chamber added language to its agenda that opposed cuts to K-12 public education. Schwan credits that position to the input of both business and education members. “It’s important for business leaders to carry on a dialogue with education leadership on matters of mutual interest,” said Schwan. “An educated workforce is clearly an important economic driver for the region.”

During his Chamber tenure, Schwan helped start the BEA and recruited its current co-chairs:  Wells, of INTRUST Bank, and Dr. Noreen Carrocci, president of Newman University.

Berry and Wells have assembled a small and focused working group that will engage additional stakeholders and experts throughout the process. “We know the education funding formula is critical to our future and business should be at the table as the funding formula discussions progress. We certainly appreciate the challenging job of our policymakers and look forward to our conversations with them,” said co-chair Walter Berry.

The co-chairs have begun their task force deliberations with a basic understanding of how the Kansas school formula has evolved in the past and the importance of a fully integrated education system linking resources and outcomes from pre-school through post-secondary training. Other task force members include Schwan (House of Schwan), Mark Nichols (Koch Industries), John Allison (Wichita Public Schools), Richard Taylor (Plumbers & Pipefitters), Brian Black (Spirit AeroSystems), Steve Cox (Cox Machine) and Sam Williams (retired).

Follow this link for KMUW coverage of this story.

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

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.

Celebrating 60th anniversary of the KC-135

This letter to the editor was published in today’s Wichita Eagle. It was submitted by Jack Pulley, Chairman of the Friends of McConnell and Pat Gallagher, Military Liaison for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. 

Today McConnell Air Force Base will host a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. More than 50 years after the delivery of that first KC-135, the fleet remains an integral part of Wichita’s aviation history and an essential component of our nation’s defense system.FOM - Tanker Anniversary

Next year will bring exciting new opportunities. McConnell AFB will greet the next generation refueler, the KC-46 Pegasus, designed to replace the aging KC-135 fleet.  Many local businesses and contractors have been working to ensure the base is on target to welcome this exciting new aircraft.

Before the last of the McConnell’s Stratotankers has been replaced, however, we have an opportunity to pay homage to their great history. We are thankful that McConnell’s airmen and leadership team are part of our community and we have a deep respect for the service they provide to our nation.

On this important anniversary date the Friends of McConnell and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce express our sincere appreciation to all those who serve at McConnell Air Force Base. We are grateful the base is part of our community and congratulate each of you on the pivotal role you have played in making this special anniversary celebration possible

The Friends of McConnell (FOM), an affiliate organization of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, is a support group of area business leaders and residents dedicated to providing meaningful social and economic linkage between senior military leaders and their metropolitan civilian counterparts. The FOM seeks to express community pride and appreciation of the area’s military by providing organizational and financial support for Commander directed programs on base. A primary goal of the Friends of McConnell is to make McConnell AFB the most desirable assignment of an Airman’s career.

Wichita’s new program may serve as a model for other communities

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

Congratulations to the Wichita City Council for approving a new Voluntary Off-site Storm Water Quality Best Management Practice (BMP) Program at their June 10th meeting. The idea came from a collaborative effort involving the public and private sectors with much of the credit going to Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) and Chris Bohm (Ruggles & Bohm), who chairs the city’s Storm Water Advisory Board. A lot of credit also goes to City Manager Bob Layton and Public Works Director Alan King for working toward an innovative solution.

The Chamber’s environmental policy supports an effective and efficient regulatory structure so that existing business and industry are not unduly constrained or burdened so that the City can competitively attract new business and industry. The storm water management plan provides developers a new option regarding storm water quality regulations and will provide extensive savings from the current program. The off-site BMP program was supported by the Chamber’s Environmental Resources Committee, chaired by David Traster (Foulston Siefkin LLP).

This program will be the first of its kind in the United States and an opportunity to make Wichita unique in the market place. The program will provide significant costs savings for area developers, businesses and the city and county. It will make dramatic improvements to the quality of storm water flowing off sites in the agricultural community and could be a huge economic development consideration. We commend all of the partners – KDHE, K-State WRAPS, the EPA, the Storm Water Advisory Board and the City of Wichita – for working together and finding a solution that will ultimately provide great benefit to business owners and developers.

Chambers cohost Kansas Commerce Secretary

Kansas Secretary of Commerce Antonio Soavo met Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams during the Chamber reception.

Kansas Secretary of Commerce Antonio Soavo met Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams during the Chamber reception held yesterday.

Yesterday the Chamber cohosted an after-work reception with the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio J. Soave. Soave was appointed to the position by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback late last year. More than one hundred business leaders and elected officials turned out to hear his remarks about the business climate in Kansas.

Soave, who earned a law degree from Michigan State and a master’s in international law from the University of San Diego, spoke eloquently and passionately about the partnerships he’s been establishing with Kansas businesses so that his department can add more value to their export plans. Addressing the group in both English and Spanish, he also talked about his efforts to aggressively recruit new companies to the state and build on current efforts to retain those businesses that are already established here.

Soave said that the Greater Wichita Partnership, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other area chambers are important partners in trade development plans and that he will continue working with them on retention and expansion efforts. He indicated that he is “doubling down” to help Kansas businesses attract new jobs to the state.

While Kansas companies are leaders in a variety of industries, Soave recognized that a competitive environment makes it important to utilize economic development tools to retain companies like Cargill. “Our companies here are resilient,” said Soave and they are known for their “integrity, drive and commitment.”

Photos from yesterday’s event are posted on Facebook. Our thanks to Pioneer Balloon for providing the reception location. Other sponsors included Greater Wichita Partnership, Kansas Global Trade Services, Molino’s Mexican Cuisine and the Kansas Beer Wholesalers Association.

The next Government Relations event is Wednesday, June 1, when U.S. Senator Jerry Moran will speak at a Federal Issue Forum luncheon. Register here.

 

Cargill Strengthens Their Community Commitment

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Cargill Vice President Brian Sikes announced at a news conference today that Cargill will remain in Wichita.

The Chamber was honored to host today’s news conference about Cargill’s decision to continue to be a vital part of our business community. Retaining this legacy company is excellent news for our city, region and state.

Today’s announcement has a profound economic impact on Wichita. And just as importantly, it means 800 Cargill employees will continue to be our neighbors, friends and colleagues. The ripple effect of this decision is far reaching and we commend all those leading our economic development efforts at the local and state level for working together to produce the best possible result for Wichita.

There’s much to celebrate!

Links:
Photo Album of news conference on Facebook

Live News Conference Feed on Facebook
Cargill News Release

News Stories:
KSN-TV – Cargill to stay in Wichita
Wichita Eagle – Cargill to keep headquarters in Wichita
Wichita Business Journal – Cargill:  We’re staying in Wichita