Friends of McConnell receives national award

The Friends of McConnell, an affiliate of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, was announced as the recipient of the 2016 Abilene Trophy on April 28 at the Phoenix Rally at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Since 1998, the award has been presented annually to the community that demonstrates the most support of its local Air Force Base. Also known as the Air Mobility Command Community Support Award, the trophy is awarded by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee.

To apply for the award, Friends of McConnell submitted a nearly-200 page document outlining how the Wichita region supports the airmen of McConnell Air Force Base. The document included examples of how the community worked alongside the military in preparation for the arrival of the KC-46, the re-designation of the 931st Air Refueling Wing from a group to a wing, and honoring the heritage and mission contributions associated with the 60th anniversary of the KC-135.

Pat Gallagher, Military Affairs Liaison for the Wichita Chamber, said Friends of McConnell was honored to receive the award on behalf of the entire Wichita community. “Wichita loves our Airmen and recognizes the vital role they play in our community,” she said. “I’ve been involved with McConnell for 25 years and I appreciate those who serve there tremendously. They are the very best this nation has to offer.”

A local award presentation and celebration will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 14 where the Chair of the Abilene Chamber will unveil the trophy and present it to the Friends of McConnell. McConnell Commanders will be present to express their appreciation to our regional partners for their overwhelming support. The event will be hosted by Friends University. Find more information and register for the event here.

Col. Al Miller, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Commander, said he was pleased the Wichita area was recognized. “For any Airman who is serving his or her first assignment and is fortunate enough to have been assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, they will struggle for the rest of their careers to find a community as supportive as this one. Wichita and the surrounding communities set the bar extremely high. This community is the very best.”

McConnell Air Force Base has an annual economic impact on the Wichita region of $800 million. The Friends of McConnell seeks to express community pride and appreciation of the area’s military by providing organizational and financial support for Commander-directed programs at McConnell Air Force Base. A primary goal of the group is to make McConnell the most desirable assignment of an Airman’s career.

Wichita Regional Chamber Opposes Two PEAK Senate Bills

The Chamber’s lobbyist, Jason Watkins, testified today in Topeka.

Jason Watkins, a lobbyist representing the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, testified in opposition of S.B. 222 and S.B. 223 in Topeka, today. Watkins submitted written remarks and also provided verbal testimony in front of the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee. He was joined by other representatives in the region who are concerned about the need to have economic tools in place to grow the economy.

In his remarks, Watkins indicated that the Chamber supports Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK) as a valuable economic development tool. S.B. 222 places a moratorium on the program and S.B. 223 restricts it. Watkins pointed to a report from Legislative Post Audit that shows a positive return on investment for the program.

Watkins said that “a moratorium or restrictions on PEAK would stifle growth and likely lead to jobs originally destined for south-central Kansas to land in Oklahoma instead. Kansas needs more economic development tools – not less. PEAK provides a conduit for critical investment in our state’s economy. And it pays immediate dividends with job growth and capital investment.”

Links to the written testimony from Watkins are shown below.

SB 222 WRCC 2017 PEAK

SB 223 WRCC 2017 PEAK

Inclusion: Experience Rather than Appearance

Dan Powers addressing the crowd of 500+ at Chairman’s Lunch on Feb. 7.

Following the Chairman’s Lunch centered on diversity and inclusion, Dan Powers (Managing Partner at Grant Thornton LLP) recapped his thoughts on the topic. The original published content can be seen on page 3B of today’s Wichita Eagle.

Now, more than ever, it’s critical that employers and communities recognize that inclusion has and will continue to be a benchmark for perception and success.

The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Lunch on February 7 brought together public and private-sector leadership to discuss how Wichita can utilize four specific tactics to build an inclusive community: utilize a new talent app and website that will launch later this year, expand diversity and inclusion training, support a youth employment project and partner with minority business organizations. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, Wichita is striving to cultivate and sustain an open environment that nurtures both growth and development.

For us to be as inclusive as possible, it’s important to recognize that diversity is defined by much more than just appearance. Rather, diversity includes attributes that aren’t as readily seen, such as religion, educational background, socioeconomic status and work experience. Inclusion is accepting and understanding that varied perspectives and past experiences foster innovation and create a competitive advantage for Wichita in today’s global environment. It’s capitalizing on the strengths of each person to build a more empowered and efficient workforce.

Addressing diversity and inclusion is a priority, and the consequences of failing to acknowledge them are profound. However, I’m confident our city has the power to enhance Wichita’s image at the regional and national level as a leader in diversity – but to do so, it will take everyone’s support. Intention doesn’t always translate into action. We must all play an important role in advocating for and celebrating diversity and practicing inclusion in our businesses and throughout our community.

Grant Thornton LLP was the presenting sponsor of the 2017 Chairman’s Lunch. The event took place on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at INTRUST Bank Arena and featured a panel discussion titled “Creating a Workforce for the Future Through Diversity and Inclusion.” To see photos and video from the event, please visit our Facebook page.

To learn more about the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, please contact Suzy Finn.

Diversity & Inclusion to be main focus of Chairman’s Lunch

We have announced our program agenda for our 2017 Chairman’s Lunch, coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Chairman's Lunch Panelists

In keeping with the event’s tradition of presenting perspectives from the City, County and Chamber, the event will begin with each organization addressing their respective 2017 priorities.

The second portion of the program will be a panel discussion titled “Creating a Workforce for the Future Through Diversity and Inclusion.” It will highlight the necessity of including people with different ideas and backgrounds to move our community forward.

The discussion, moderated by Chamber President Gary Plummer, will include the following panelists:

  • Scott Schwindaman, 2017 Chamber Chairman
  • Jeff Longwell, Mayor, City of Wichita
  • David Unruh, Chairman, Sedgwick County Commission
  • Junetta Everett, Vice President of Professional Relations, Delta Dental of Kansas, Inc.
  • Dr. Kim Krull, President, Butler Community College

“The importance of diversity and inclusion will be at the forefront of the Chamber’s top priorities as we celebrate our Centennial year in 2017,” said Plummer. “This year’s Chairman’s Lunch program is an opportunity to demonstrate how the Chamber, the community’s local governing bodies, and other organizations are being intentional about including people with different ideas and backgrounds in order to increase our competitiveness in the global economy.”

This community event is open to the public. Tickets are $50 for Chamber members, $60 for general admission, and $650 for a corporate table sponsorship (includes eight tickets and sponsorship benefits). Contact Rachel Douglass at 316-268-1127 with questions or visit wichitachamber.org to purchase tickets.

Explaining Our New Brand

With our 100th anniversary approaching in 2017, the Chamber unveiled updated branding at last week’s Annual Meeting. Our new look visibly demonstrates our focus on the future. While our Mission and Vision remain unchanged, you’ll see our new name, tagline and logo incorporated in our signage, website and other materials during 2017 as we celebrate ten decades of being a catalyst for connections in the region.

New Name
Our Board of Directors voted in August to formally change the organization’s name to be more inclusive of the surrounding areas that are vital to continued success:

WICHITA REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

New Tagline
A new tagline was developed that recognizes the important connection between business growth and community advancement:

CHAMPIONING BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY

chamberlogo_stackedNew Logo
Our new logo is composed of three primary components:

The Wichita skyline forms a “W” that is reminiscent of past Chamber logos and represents the organization’s mission to drive economic growth and community advancement.

The green circle demonstrates intentional inclusiveness and recognizes the Chamber as the vital connection between business and the community. The stylized Wichita flag inside the circle represents civic pride and the vision to make this region the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities.

The Chamber’s previous logo utilized a three-color scheme: golden orange for Kansas sunsets; green for growth; and blue for strength. The rebranding team elected to continue using those colors with a more updated palette selection.

More Changes in the New Year
Our organization will be transitioning to the updated brand identity throughout 2017. New signage has already been installed on our building at 350 W. Douglas, and a new pedestal sign along Douglas and an updated website should be in place before the end of the first quarter of the New Year.

Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer commended his staff and the creative agency Squid Ink Creative for working with volunteers on the rebranding. Plummer said, “Squid Ink has been a valuable partner throughout this process. They conducted extensive research about branding trends and held focus groups with our members to better understand their expectations. Brad Painchaud from the Squid Ink team has led the Chamber’s tradeshow committee for the last several years. He and his team had some great insights from their past interactions with our members during events. Our board likes the contemporary new look. It conveys that we’re well positioned for a new era in the Chamber’s history.”

Painchaud said his team enjoyed being part of the process. “We’re really excited to be part of the rebranding effort for the Chamber. We’ve been big supporters of the Chamber for a long time. It’s a great honor that we were chosen as the agency to assist in moving them into the next 100 years.”

Two Entrepreneurs Pitching to Daymond John and Local Experts at Annual Meeting

Trevor Crotts

Trevor Crotts

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has invited two local entrepreneurs to present investor pitches as part of this year’s Annual Meeting program on Thursday, December 1 at Century II Convention Center. Trevor Crotts and Miguel Johns will join Daymond John, star of ABC’s Emmy-winning Shark Tank series, on stage after the keynote speech about entrepreneurism and branding he will deliver at 7:30 p.m.

Crotts is the Executive Director & Founder of BuddyRest, a local company that produces and sells  American-made orthopedic dog beds. Founded in 2011, the company has received multiple awards from the pet industry.

Miguel Johns

Miguel Johns

Johns is the CEO of KingFit Preventative Health and Performance, LLC, an innovative health and wellness platform powered by artificial intelligence. KingFit helps healthcare organizations improve their diabetes management quality of care and increase their reimbursement.

Both Crotts and Johns have presented at 1 Million Cups-Wichita, a national program that connects and strengthens the entrepreneurial community through weekly presentations and discussions. They have also completed the e2e Accelerator program, an initiative of the Greater Wichita Partnership’s Entrepreneurial Task Force. Both entrepreneurs will give five-minute product pitches to Daymond John and a panel of local experts made up of:

  • Christina Long, Owner and Principal Consultant for CML Collective, LLC; co-founder of the Create Campaign
  • Scott Schwindaman, President/CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc.; co-chair of the Entrepreneurial Task Force
  • Jeff Turner, Partner at the Turner Nichols Group; co-chair of the Greater Wichita Partnership’s  Leadership Council; retired President/CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.

Barry Schwan, 2016 Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, said the interactive format of this year’s Chamber event was designed to celebrate the successes of the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Schwan said, “The audience will get to hear about products developed locally by two very innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs. And the business leaders we’ve assembled will share advice with those entrepreneurs about maximizing their business plans and developing future investment opportunities. It’s an on-stage learning experience for everyone involved. But it also clearly demonstrates the important role we all play in growing the regional economy and championing innovation.”

EVENT DETAILS:
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Century II – Convention Center
5 to 7 p.m. – Networking gala
7 to 8:30 p.m.– Business meeting and program

Ticket prices:
Networking Dinner Gala & Program: $115
Program Only: General Loge Seating – $55 or General Balcony Seating – $35
Call 316-268-1123 for information on special pricing for students.
Register at wichitachamber.org

Friends University making positive strides

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

I had the good fortune of attending a “State of the Organization” breakfast this week at Friends University in Wichita. Friends President Amy Bragg Carey updated a gathering of community leaders, faculty and boosters on major milestones hit by the University in the past year. It was an informative look at the pressures facing higher education today, including competition for students,  quality job placement for graduates, concerns about costs and rising student debt. It was these pressures, along with declining enrollment and a challenging financial outlook, that faced President Carey when she took over the helm in 2015.

The entire University community has responded well to this challenge, evidenced by the two-year Revitalization & Growth Plan adopted on campus. The plan focuses on Friends’ mission, focuses on the University’s strengths and proactively addresses the organization’s bottom line. Dr. Carey was quick to point out that the past year included some tough financial decisions, but has laid the groundwork for a turnaround at Friends University.

Of course, the success of any educational institution depends greatly on its ability to meet marketplace demands. Friends has a history of that and is nationally recognized for programs like zoology and spiritual formation. In the last year, they have also launched the first cyber security program in Wichita to meet the need to defend information infrastructure of business, government and the military. Friends also launched an innovative special education program that allows teaching licensure within a year, helping Kansas meet the increasing demand for special education teachers. Quality programs and affordability landed Friends at No. 44 on LendEDU’s 2016 College Risk-Reward Indicator. The indicator ranks institutions in terms of average student loan debt (risk) and average early career salary (reward). Friends was the highest ranking college in Kansas on the list.

At the conclusion of the presentation, one member of the audience summed up what everyone in the room was thinking: President Carey’s leadership in her first year has been the key to this turnaround at Friends. Dr. Carey deflects that credit to a supportive board and engaged team, but she certainly has built a tremendous culture on campus and is having an impact through her involvement in the Wichita Metro Chamber and other organizations. We are delighted to have Amy and Bryan as new members of the Wichita community!

 

 

 

Envision helps bring home the gold, silver and bronze

They say teamwork makes the dream work and we’re seeing a lot of that happening during this year’s Olympic games. It’s been a great ride and so uplifting to watch athletes from all around the world support each other. That encouragement makes all the difference and helps propel them to the medal stand.

Teamwork makes the dream work at the Chamber, too. This week we had an opportunity at our Federal Issue Forum luncheon to recognize one of our many outstanding partners who not only support our important government relations work, but also teams up with our Communications and Investor Relations Department on printed materials.

Photo Jan 27, 9 24 14 AMLast year Michael Monteferrante and his team at Envision stepped forward and agreed to make it possible for the Chamber’s Annual Summary to incorporate some extra flair. You may recall seeing the folded flag-shaped summary at our 2015 Annual Meeting or you may have noticed it when it arrived in your mailbox last January.  We enjoyed seeing photos of it shared across several social media platforms and hearing from some members who considered it a keepsake. In fact, one of our Chamber members still has it posted on their retail storefront window.

The Wichita flag piece has received three awards during the last six months.

  • GOLD – First Place award from the Kansas Professional Communicators
  • SILVER – Second in the Wichita American Marketing Association competition
  • BRONZE – An Honorable Mention from the National Federation of Press Women

These awards would not have been possible without the generosity of Michael Monteferrante and his team at Envision. We are very grateful for his partnership and the awards he and his team helped deliver to the Chamber.

And we’re grateful for the many other partnerships that propel the Chamber and our members toward our vision of making this region the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities. It’s through your investment and efforts that we can make the dream work.

Chamber President Gary Plummer (left) presented Michael Montana, Teresa Houston and Michael Monteferrante of Envision with commemorative frame as a token of appreciation for their partnership.

Chamber President Gary Plummer (left) presented Michael Montana, Teresa Houston and Michael Monteferrante of Envision with a commemorative frame as a token of appreciation for their partnership.

Wichita flag gains VIP status in VIP Wichita Magazine

Wichita Eagle publisher Roy Heatherly is an enthusiastic community champion and an active Chamber Board member. And he understands how passionate our Chamber staff is about promoting Wichita and elevating community pride. So we were happy to comply when he asked us to contribute a short article to his organization’s newest monthly publication, VIP Wichita Magazine.

VIP Magazine_Aug16

It was a great opportunity to partner with the Eagle and invite more Wichitans to be part of the #WichitaFlag and #ILoveWichita movement. The article on pages 14-18 of the August edition of VIP Wichita Magazine includes interviews with just a few of the movement’s earliest supporters.

While we didn’t have the time or the resources to profile everyone who has played a role in promoting Wichita’s pride over the last decade, we feel like that’s great news! Because there are so many organizations and people now united in propelling Wichita’s image forward, we could easily fill all the pages of several issues of VIP Wichita Magazine with fascinating stories and compelling images.

Wichita native Ben Faires provided an added bonus to the article we developed. He videotaped some of the interviews and then produced a short video that has already been viewed more than 4,000 times on the Wichita Flag Facebook page. A film student at Washburn University, Ben donated his time and talent to produce this tribute to his hometown, which he titled The Resurgence of the Wichita Flag.

We’re grateful to Roy for this opportunity, to Ben for his gift of the video and to everyone who made time to participate in interviews for the article. And we applaud and appreciate all those who are dedicated to improving Wichita and growing pride in those things that make Wichita so special.

Don’t miss these other Chamber-related features in the August issue of VIP Wichita Magazine.

  • YPW #ILoveWichita T-Shirt Unveiling event, page 7
  • Chamber’s Metro Maui Mingle event, pages 32-33
  • Why I Love Wichita feature with two former Chamber Board members, page 40

Chief Ramsay’s leadership noticed nationally

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

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been impacted by the recent coverage around the country about racial justice, violence in our streets and the risks taken each day by our law enforcement community. Certainly, Wichita isn’t immune to those sort of issues.

But we credit Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay for his leadership in taking a different approach in our community. Coverage of the community picnic in McAdams Park on July 17 has been trending across America (see the links below). Just a few days after hundreds of citizens took to the streets to protest police shootings around the country, Chief Ramsay invited organizers to come back together for a barbecue and meaningful dialogue aimed at real understanding and healing.

It’s worth noting that it also certainly took the willingness of Black Lives Matter organizers  and other community leaders to make this approach successful. The Chamber commends all the partners involved in the July 17 barbecue for demonstrating real leadership and love for our entire community. Chief Ramsay and other leaders will tell you the community barbecue was just the beginning on a long journey toward inclusiveness and understanding. Even the name of the event was First Steps Community Cookout.

However, we can’t imagine a better way to start.  Everyone involved has given us another great reason to be proud of Wichita!

Video posted on Facebook
Wichita Eagle story
KWCH story
CNN story 
NPR story