Run, walk, or cycle at these May Chamber member events

May is just around the corner and so are several opportunities to get out and get some fresh spring air while doing good things for our community!

Sunday, May 4 – Prairie Fire Spring Half Marathon
Take part in the Spring Prairie Fire half marathon, 5K, or the Fun Run/Walk. Registration closes on April 18, so register now! www.prairiefiremarathon.com

Girls on the Run 2013

Girls on the Run 2013

Saturday, May 10 – Girls on the Run Spring 5K
Girls on the Run of Sedgwick County, a life changing, non-profit prevention program for girls in the 3rd through 8th grade, is hosting a 5K run starting at the Wichita Boathouse. Proceed benefit the Girls on the Run Scholarship Fund. http://girlsontherunks.org/5k-run/spring-2014/

Saturday, May 10 – American Diabetes Association Wichita Tour de Cure
Tour de Cure is a cycling event to help stop Diabetes. The American Diabetes Association is offering three rides this year including a 5 mile family ride, 50K and 100K. It’s fun and it’s for a great cause – raising funds in support of the nearly 26 million Americans living with diabetes and their families. http://www.diabetes.org/toursedgwickco

Saturday, May 24 – Ronald McDonald House Charities Color Me Rad 5K
Color Me Rad is coming to Wichita (to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities) with a tsunami of color that’ll make colored tears of joy run down your cheeks and will renew your will to live. Visit www.colormerad.com to register and use the Promo Code “CHARITY” to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities® Wichita.

Saturday, May 31 – Kansas Health Foundation River Run 2014
Kick off Riverfest 2014 by participating in a 10K, 2 Mile, Tot Trot, or the Family 2-Mile Walk. River Run features a terrific downtown route adjacent to the Arkansas River, a high-energy finish line, bib tag timing, and live music at the WaterWalk Stage. All registrants receive a Riverfest button and commemorative T-shirt. riverrunwichita.com

We have probably missed some of the great things our members are doing in May, so please contact Courtney Sendall at csendall@wichitachamber.org if you are hosting a run/walk as well.

Two Opportunities to Enjoy Live Music for FREE in Wichita

We have two great opportunities for you to win a free pair of tickets to upcoming music events in Wichita!

The Tontons as part of The Orpheum Theatre’s Emerging Artist Series

on Thursday, April 3
&

James Taylor and his All-Star Band at INTRUST Bank Arena

on Friday, June 20

Entering to win is easy – just subscribe to the Chamber blog and be automatically entered to win both contests!

  • Click the orange “Follow” button in the top right corner of this page.
  • Enter your email address.
  • Click “Sign me up!”
  • Be automatically entered to win!

The winners will be randomly selected from all blog followers on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, April 2 at 3 p.m. for The Tontons
  • Thursday, June 12 a 3 p.m. for James Taylor and his All-Star Band

The winner could be you, so subscribe today!

TicketGiveaway_Orpheum TicketGiveaway_James Taylor

Get moving with Chamber member 5k runs/walks in April

If you’re looking for opportunities to spend more time outside while doing GOOD things for our community, we’ve rounded up a few ideas from our members and staff. Check with your colleagues if you want to team up and attend.

Thursday, April 2 – Tied to be Fit National Walking Day
Chamber member American Heart Association is sponsoring a National Walking Day to promote better heart health. Take a look at the info and sign up to walk for 30 minutes over lunch that day. There are no special t-shirts, set route, or fees. Just an informal opportunity to get some exercise over the lunch hour.

Saturday, April 5 – Friends University President’s Run
For the third year in a row, Chamber member Friends University with host their President’s Run. Races include a Falcon 5K Competitive Race and the Mascot Mile Fun Run/Walk. Abandon Kansas will provide live music, Chris Cakes will feed and wow the crowd with their flying pancakes, and there will be vendor booths. Race participants will receive a short-sleeve tech T-shirt and other goodies in addition to prizes for all age levels. www.friends.edu/run

Saturday, April 12 – Downtown Clean Up
This event is sponsored by Chamber partners Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and the City of Wichita Park and Recreation Department. Chamber staff members Angie Elliott and Angie Prather participated last year! conta.cc/1gSRY0x20130413_095604

Saturday, April 12 – Kansas Humane Society Dog-N-Jog
Grab your canine campanion and register for the 2014 Dog-N-Jog, a 5K and 1.5 mile walk/run with proceeds benefitting Chamber member the Kansas Humane Society. http://www.dognjogwichita.com/

Saturday, April 12 – Thin Mint Sprint
Join Chamber member Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland in their 1st annual Thin Mint Sprint and Cookie Relay. This unique event will include a 5k race and an exciting, fun team event – the Cookie Relay! Sign up a team of four participants for the Cookie Relay and be ready to make your way through our 600 yard relay course! Each participant of the 5K will receive a commemorative Thin Mint Sprint T-shirt, a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, and delicious post race refreshments (yes, cookies included!) http://www.gorunyourrace.com/Event/Event/29

Friday, April 25 – Race for Hope
The Race for Hope coincides with the early evening Final Friday Art Crawl. Participants race along the river, create beautiful artwork by adding a footprint to the 2014 HopeNet mural, enjoy music, food and fun at the finish line post party! Participant privileges will include a t-shirt, race bib, and participation in the finish line post party. Proceeds benefit Chamber member HopeNet. http://www.gorunyourrace.com/Event/Event/37

Saturday, April 26 – Autism Care Walk
Chamber member Heartspring is hosting their 7th annual walk in Downtown Wichita at Waterwalk. Registration is FREE. If you register BEFORE April 4 at 3 pm, you’ll get a free t-shirt. Donations to fund Heartspring programs are accepted. http://www.autismcarewalk.org/

Wednesday, April 30 – National Walk @ Lunch Day
Sponsored by Chamber member Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, this is a fun way to spend your lunch hour with your colleagues – and get a FREE t-shirt. No registration fees or donations expected. This is just a nice way to jumpstart the spring. Mark your calendar! http://www.bcbsks.com/AboutUs/Community/walk_at_lunch.htm.

We have probably missed some of the great things our members are doing in March, so please contact Courtney Sendall at csendall@wichitachamber.org if you are hosting a run/walk as well.

Congratulations to our 10th Annual Small Business of the Year Finalists

Now in its 10th year, our Small Business Awards program offers well-deserved recognition to Wichita small businesses for their achievements and contributions to our community. It provides owners and their employees the opportunity to showcase their company, share their story, and be rewarded for their efforts.

This year, 72 small businesses were nominated for the award and 21 completed the application process. The ten finalists were recently announced, and one business from each tier will be selected as the Small Business of the Year at an Awards Luncheon on May 7.

Tier One (1-25 Employees)
Cassandra Bryan Design
Chapple Insurance Group
Icon Structures Inc.
Kansas Truck Equipment Co., Inc.
Mize & Co., Inc.

Small Business Awards_Tier One
Tier One Finalists

Tier Two (26-100 Employees)
Balco, Inc.
Building Controls and Services Inc.
J.P. Weigand & Sons Inc.
Mid American Credit Union
Zernco, Inc.

Small Business Awards_Tier Two
Tier Two Finalists

See all the photos from the Metro Mingle featuring the Small Business Awards Showcase, and register here to meet all the finalists at the April 17th Sunrise Scrambler!

Wichita’s Talent Pool – Keeping It Deep

Part one of a four-part series on Young Professionals of WichitaFinn_web
By Suzy Finn

Executive Director Suzy Finn (pictured) joined Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) staff in 2013. As an active member of YPW for several years, Finn served as an Ambassador for the organization and a member of the YPW Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marquette University and master’s degree in business administration from Wichita State University.

Roughly 20% of young adults in the Wichita metropolitan area leave our community each year, representing an estimated annual lost investment of $595 million, according to data shared during the ACT ICT presentations by the City.

The Young Professionals of Wichita exists to help fight that brain drain from our city, with a mission of attracting, engaging, and retaining diverse young talent to effect positive change for a brighter future. In this series of four posts, I’ll tell you a more about the three major components of our mission statement and then tell you more about how you can impact the future talent pipeline of Wichita.

Attract, Engage, RetainFB thumbnail
Since it was formed as a Chamber initiative in 2005, YPW has worked to attract to and retain in Wichita young professionals (YPs). In 2013, we added the word “engage” to our mission, because we recognize that a large part of retaining YPs is getting them engaged in and connected to the community. Through the 50-75 events our volunteers plan every year, we provide opportunities for our members to do just that. The focus of the events varies from professional development to purely social, with an opportunity for members to network at every event to build both professional and social networks.

YPW also works with our corporate investors to attract YPs to Wichita through a few key initiatives. The first is our Intern Return program, which has a goal of connecting interns to YPs and the city so that when they get that full-time job offer, they won’t hesitate to accept it and return to Wichita for the long term.

The second way we work with investors on attraction is by offering city tours for individuals they are recruiting to the city. This gives the recruits an opportunity to ask questions to YPW staff or volunteers about the city itself. Our volunteers get to share their passion for the city, and the potential employee gets candid answers about why those YPs choose to stay in Wichita.

One of our partners in recruiting said: “Our partnership with Young Professionals of Wichita is invaluable! It is imperative that our vendors be an extension of the service we provide to our clients. YPW representatives are courteous, knowledgeable and customer service-focused and we appreciate the special touch they add in selling Wichita.”

In 2013, YPW launched a third initiative to attract and retain college students to Wichita – the Launch Wichita website. With a focus on posting internship positions from companies in the Wichita metropolitan area, the site’s goal is to foster the internship culture in our community. Both YPW and the Chamber are working toward a goal of increasing the number of companies posting positions on the site from 30 in 2013 to more than 60 in 2014.

This site is open to all college students, and we’ve had individuals from across the country register to find internships in Wichita. Our goal is to market this site to not only our local college students, but also those attending other state schools in Kansas and in the surrounding states.

In my next post, I’ll share more about the importance of diversity and how we address that in YPW.

Suzy Finn
Executive Director
Young Professionals of Wichita

Post #2 – “The Diversity Difference”

Important Benefits of Joining Your Local Chamber of Commerce

In my position as manager of membership development at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, I am always looking for ways to add benefits for our current and future members. However, there are certain benefits that are inherent for anyone who joins a chamber of commerce.

I found an article titled “Important Benefits of Joining Your Local Chamber of Commerce” by Kathleen Lanza, a freelance writing and strategic communications professional with more than twenty-five years of combined private, public and non-profit sector experience. She outlines several of the automatic benefits chamber members enjoy. Her article is below and I encourage you to take a look.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur who is involved with your local Chamber already, we would like to hear from you. What benefits have you experienced by joining the chamber of commerce in your area?  Has your experience been worthwhile and yielded a solid ROI?  Why or why not? Email your responses to kdundas@wichitachamber.org.

Important Benefits of Joining Your Local Chamber of Commerce
From Money News Now – By Kathleen Lanza

Not to be confused with the Better Business Bureau, which represents the interests of both consumers and businesses alike, the Chamber of Commerce solely represents the interests of business owners.  Today there are thousands of these organizations all across the U.S., all of them focused in one way or another on promoting any number of pro-business initiatives.

Today’s Chamber of Commerce organizations range from the all-encompassing and nationwide U.S. Chamber of Commerce all the way down to the state, regional and local levels.  The exact nature and extent of the activity undertaken by the Chamber then varies in accordance with the level at which it operates.

For instance, local Chambers of Commerce are focused on bringing their own business community together in ways that will foster their members’ own growth and support for one another. In many cases, that means working with local government representatives, such as the mayor, the city council and other local representatives to ensure the voices of the Chamber’s actively engaged entrepreneurs and other business owners are heard and that their needs are being met.

Becoming a Local Chamber of Commerce Member

Okay, so it sounds like a no-brainer that any small business owner should get on board, join up and join in, at the very least where the local Chamber of Commerce is concerned, but not so fast!

Before you do, you need to understand going in that becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce will cost you some money.  That’s right, paying dues of some kind is required.  And while those dues will constitute a tax write off for you and your business, given that joining the Chamber isn’t free, it begs the question: “Is it worth it?”

We’ll get to that in a bit.

For now, just know that conducting a straightforward cost-benefit analysis is only part of the equation when it comes to making this decision.  It’s also important to understand that getting the best return on your investment will require something you may already believe you don’t have enough of these days…time.  Joining the local Chamber if you’re not going to take the time required to become an active member is probably not going to pay off much for you, certainly not in the long term.

Yes, joining your local Chamber of Commerce is essentially about your own business’ growth, that’s for certain, not just initially but well into the future.  It’s also about building relationships over time that will take time, but that will also have a tremendous positive impact on your professional and personal growth, as well as that of your surrounding community.

Chamber of Commerce Membership: Benefits from the Consumer Perspective

When it comes to describing the benefits of doing anything, there’s a tendency to rely on what would be considered more anecdotal evidence, especially where there’s been little research conducted or a lack of more scientifically driven information is available.

Thankfully that’s not the case when it comes to understanding the value of joining a local Chamber of Commerce from a consumer and customer relations standpoint.  On this subject, the findings are pretty clear.

In fact, a recent study designed to measure consumer perspectives on this topic yielded some pretty impressive numbers for building a persuasive argument as to why businesses and companies that don’t join their local Chamber may be doing themselves a tremendous disservice.  It was conducted by The Schapiro Group and Market Street Services using a scientific web-based survey of 2,000 adults across the country.

First among the most telling results?  When consumers know that a small business is a member of their local Chamber of Commerce, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of it, and they’re a full 63% more likely to purchase goods or services from that company in the future.

Talk about brand awareness and image enhancement!

Additionally, a high level of involvement in the local Chamber by a business grants it a certain level of trustworthiness and a competitive edge in the local marketplace. In fact, those businesses are automatically perceived by many to be industry leaders.

Furthermore, Chamber membership confers a higher level of distinction on certain types of businesses in particular, including restaurants and insurance companies.  And it results in all companies being more highly perceived as users of good business practices, reputable, caring about their customers and being more involved in their communities overall.

Chamber of Commerce Membership: Benefits from the Business Owner Perspective

So we’ve pretty much established that joining the local Chamber of Commerce carries a certain level of cachet where consumers’ perceptions are concerned.  And that alone is a great reason to get involved, no question.

But remember those more “anecdotal” benefits we referred to earlier?  They’re every bit if not more important to you as a small business owner because they represent the nuts and bolts of how your joining the local Chamber can yield measurable and positive results for you and your specific business over time.

Here they are:

Promotions and publicity—Many local Chambers run programs that offer promotional materials, events and activities to welcome new residents and businesses to the area, ensuring that your business is front and center and ahead of the local competition with this very valuable target audience.  Additionally, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) advertising and publicity opportunities are oftentimes available to members exclusively, and mailing list access alone could be worth its weight in gold.

Networking—While today’s technology and the ability to network online may have you wondering if the local Chamber of Commerce way of doing business in person is obsolete, think again.  There’s still nothing as strong as face-to-face communication where building trust, respect and name recognition is concerned…nothing.  And it’s only through building that level of relationship over time that you are likely to acquire customer referrals and find the most suitable vendors, consultants and distributors you need to help you grow your small business long-term.

Mentoring—We’ve talked a lot in these pages about the incredible benefit of having a mentor when you are starting or trying to grow your own small business, and the local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to find one.  It’s also a great place for you as an established small business owner or entrepreneur to offer your services to an up and comer in this regard.  Nothing pays you back like paying it forward, and mentoring is no exception to that rule.

Events and programs—The local Chamber of Commerce will likely facilitate a whole host of activities and events over the course of a given year, each designed to help you as a small business owner to either get to know your peers, your competition or your customers that much better.  These kinds of programs provide tremendous business opportunities for people to get to know one another and expand their prospect base and generate great leads.

Members-only discounts and services—Oftentimes, local Chambers of Commerce will negotiate deals with companies and businesses that provide the products and services that businesses need most, such as phone and internet service, computer hardware and software or other vendor products and services.  And don’t forget health care insurance access.  These discounts alone can mean hundreds of dollars in savings to the small business owner in particular, making the cost of dues almost negligible by comparison.

Government access and impact—Because the local Chamber of Commerce speaks with a united voice, one very much in favor of business interests, members are more likely to have an impact on government decision-making as part of a larger body than they would on their own.  Additionally, elected officials are much more likely to entertain an audience of concerned local Chamber of Commerce members than they are any one individual business owner, especially if he or she is not representing a very large concern or at the very least a large contributor.

An Office Away from the Office—Small business owners, especially those who work from a small home office, will have a place they can go to congregate with other professionals when and if the need for human interaction and exchange becomes preferable.  Moreover, they can oftentimes use the Chamber’s facilities to host clients and hold meetings, ensuring they have a more professional office environment available to them that may even be available at a moment’s notice.

For More Information:

Looking for more insight on what belonging to your local chamber of commerce might mean for you and your business in terms of consumer appeal? We invite you to contact me, Kresta Dundas, at 316-268-1115 or kdundas@wichitachamber.org

And if you’d like more information about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, you’ll find it here at http://www.uschamber.com/.

Kresta Dundas
Manager of Membership Development
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

 

Celebrating Milestones With Our Members

There are few things as rewarding as celebrating important milestones with our Chamber members.  Milestone events help companies mark their progress in a very public way for their own employees as well as the rest of the community.

This year we’ve assisted with almost forty ribbon cuttings for Chamber members. We’ve celebrated new business openings, expansions, relocations, and anniversaries. Each celebration was the result of a great deal of dedication and work by local visionaries. These achievements were also essential components for moving our entire business community forward and inspiring others to consider making investments in our community.

Congratulations to all the visionaries and entrepreneurs in our community who have given us a reason to pause and celebrate in 2013. You’ll find a complete listing on our website.  And don’t forget to check our Facebook page for photos of these events.

We’d also like to thank everyone on our Member Relations Committee who has taken time out of their busy work day (and sometimes even weekend) to attend these events in support of their colleagues. Your presence at these celebrations reinforces and strengthens the value of Chamber membership.

If you have an upcoming event that you’d like us to assist with, please contact Kresta Dundas at 268-1115 or Nicole Robinson at 316-268-1116. We’re happy to help.