Jobs Fund Proposal initiates needed community discussion

Several City Council members expressed their appreciation yesterday for the work that has been done to prepare the Jobs Fund Plan titled, Will Wichita Accelerate Competition for Primary Jobs? Time for a Community Discussion. The Plan was presented to the Wichita City Council during a workshop session by Gary Schmitt, the Chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC).

City Council members posed some thoughtful questions following the presentation. Council Members Jeff Blubaugh (representing District 4) and James Clendenin (representing District 3), wanted to know more about the source of funding for the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and how it has been used to attract businesses to that state. According to the Texas Governor’s web site, TEF is the “largest deal-closing fund of its kind in the nation.” The TEF is an example of the accelerated competition Wichita faces for keeping and growing our own local companies as well as attracting new businesses to the community, but there are many other examples closer to home. As Gary Schmitt pointed out, this proposed Jobs Fund is about making us more competitive with other cities, states, and countries.

City Council member Janet Miller (representing District 6), expressed her hope that the community would provide feedback to the plan, so that the Council would have a clearer idea about what the public thinks about the issue. We agree. The purpose of the proposal was to initiate more community-wide conversation about the importance of growing jobs in our community. One of Gary Schmitt’s closing remarks during his presentation included Wichita State University Basketball Coach Gregg Marshall’s mantra, “Ask yourself, are you satisfied?”

Are we satisfied with our community’s slow recovery from the loss of 31,000 jobs in recent years?  We all have family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors who have been affected by these jobs losses. If we are not satisfied, then we need to decide how we are going to change our course. Community leaders are interested in hearing from you about your reaction to the proposal and how high you rank job growth among the many important issues the community’s leadership is currently reviewing. Please share your comments at this email address: communications@wichitachamber.org.

As noted in an earlier posting, the Plan is a working document that will likely change with input from the community, business leaders, and the City Council. The current edition is available at this link.