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.

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!