Suzy Finn accepts new role with Wichita Public Schools

Suzy Finn, Director of Community Advancement for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, has resigned her position effective Dec. 22 to accept a new role of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Supervisor with Wichita Public Schools. Suzy joined our team in 2013 as Executive Director of Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). Some of Suzy’s most notable accomplishment while at the Chamber include:

  • YPW memberships increased by more than 54%, reaching more than 3,300 members
  • YPW revenue increased by more than 30%
  • YPW Group Mentoring program was created
  • Leadership Wichita saw record numbers of applications in 2016 and 2017
  • Developed and executed on seven tactics related to the Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, including the Inclusive Listening Tour, CEO Roundtable on Diversity and Inclusion and Wichita Connect website
  • Led two successful, sold-out City-to-City Leadership Visits

“Suzy played a pivotal role at the Chamber during her five-year tenure,” said Gary Plummer, Chamber President and CEO. “She not only expanded the impact of programs like Leadership Wichita and YPW, but she also helped build a new initiative focused on diversity and inclusion.”

Please join us in wishing Suzy the best in her new role, working to develop and strengthen the partnerships between the education and business communities.

The Chamber will begin an immediate search to fill the position. For more information, please visit https://wichitachamber.org/your-chamber/staff/available-positions.

Partnerships Fuel Wichita Flag Movement

Cassandra Bryan of Cassandra Bryan Design was one of the Wichitans featured in the series of community pride videos.

We like to say that the Wichita flag movement has been fueled by pride, passion and partnerships. Without all three, the message of the flag would not be as far reaching as it is. One partnership that contributed to the growing Wichita love in 2017 was when Chamber member World Studios ICT produced several videos that highlight the Wichita flag.

We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to their team for contributing their time and talents to the betterment of our community. Find links to and descriptions of each video below.

Your Wichita Flag | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
To celebrate the Wichita flag’s 80th birthday on June 14, 2017, this video was published to tell the story behind the city’s symbol. You can also catch this video playing on the City of Wichita’s City7 TV channel.

The Wichita Flag Movement | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
The Wichita Flag movement is important for so many reasons. This video features proud Wichitans sharing their thoughts on why.

The Best Thing About the Wichita Flag | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
When we asked people to name their favorite thing about the Wichita flag, we learned that everyone has a unique connection to the symbol.

#ILoveWichita Because… | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
How can you choose just one reason why you love Wichita?

We’d love to see your thoughts and feelings about the flag as well. Post your comments and tag @WichitaFlag and/or use #ILoveWichita.

We’re looking forward to seeing the Wichita pride continue to grow and to what partnerships emerge in 2018!

The team at World Studios ICT helped spread the Wichita flag message far and wide this year, with one of their videos receiving more than 30,000 views on Facebook alone.

 

Chamber announces two staff promotions

Chamber President Gary Plummer has announced two staff promotions that will be effective Jan. 1, 2018.

  • Alejo Cabral has been promoted to Director of Young Professionals of Wichita.
  • Tram Ngo has been promoted to Manager of Government Relations.

Both Alejo and Tram have been integral members of the Chamber team since the start of their tenures.

In this new position, Alejo will lead Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), an affiliate of the  Chamber with a mission to attract, engage and retain diverse young talent. “The organization’s volunteers quickly connected to him,” Gary said. “His ability to form relationships in diverse community groups have helped the organization increase its reach in the community.” He originally joined the Chamber in January 2017 as the YPW Coordinator. Prior to his role at the Chamber, Alejo worked at Credit Union of America.

Tram’s promotion comes as a result of her superb work since joining the Chamber in May 2017. “Our Government Relations department is responsible for advocating for business interests at the local, state and federal level, and Tram has earned the respect of our members, business leaders and public officials,” Gary said.

“I appreciate Tram’s commitment to excellence and am thrilled about her expanded role at the Chamber,” said Director of Government Relations Sean Robinson. “Tram is passionate about cultivating the strategic partnerships needed to advance our region’s growth.”

Please join us in congratulating these two deserving members of our team!

Show Your Support for the Official Wichita Flag License Plate

It was announced in October that the City of Wichita will be submitting a bill during the next legislative session to add a Wichita flag license plate option for Kansas motorists. The City has surpassed their initial goal of 500 signatures of support for the bill, but we want to keep going! Help us continue to demonstrate the demand for a Wichita flag license plate by completing this form.

Here’s how the program, titled Plates for Parks, will work: By purchasing a Wichita flag license plate for $50 at the time of registration or renewal, the flag will ride with you everywhere you go. The annual royalty fee of each license plate sold will go towards improving the City’s park system through the Wichita Parks Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. So it’s a win-win!

Add your name today at the link above!

Wichita Flag will soon be flying at all Wichita Public Schools

Last year, the Chamber’s marketing and communications team was invited to make a presentation about the Wichita Flag to students participating in the annual Comm Week at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication (pictured below). Stressing that the #ILoveWichita and Wichita flag movement has been fueled by partnerships, passion and pride, we asked the students to spend a few minutes brainstorming ways to widen the movement and make it more inclusive.

The students came up with a list of about eight ways to further accelerate civic pride. One of the ideas at the top of their list was to donate a Wichita flag to every school in the Wichita Public Schools system so that students could see it flying every day.

Through the power of partnerships and collaboration, Together Wichita turned that great idea into a reality this week when ninety-three 3’ x 5’ Wichita flags were donated to Wichita Public Schools, one for each of their learning centers. The flags were presented at the November 30 District Council meeting to administrators from across the district.

Ben Jennings of Together Wichita (left) and Angie Prather of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce (right) present USD 259 Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson (center) will a 3’x5’ Wichita flag at the November 30 District Council meeting. Together Wichita has purchased and donated ninety-three flags for the district, one to fly at every learning center.

Ben Jennings from The Wichita Eagle manages the Together Wichita initiative and made the presentation at the District meeting. Jennings is a long-time flag enthusiast and said it was an easy decision for the Board to approve the donation, “We don’t believe this has ever been done before and we loved the idea of making it happen.”

The Wichita Regional Chamber is one of twenty-one organizations working year-round on community improvement projects under the banner of Together Wichita. (See the complete listing on togetherwichita.com and below.) Organized, staffed and managed by The Wichita Eagle, past Together Wichita projects include bicycle and walking path signage, a Memories Park, community chalkboards, the Keepers on Parade and a large Together Wichita sign to display at area events.

School administrators also learned that Ben Hutton, CEO of Hutton Construction, has generously donated a Keeper of the Plains sculpture to USD 259. Hutton is a member of Together Wichita and also leads the Chamber’s Quality of Place Strategic Initiative. A student from the Wichita Public Schools will paint the Keeper. The finished sculpture will be unveiled sometime in 2018 when it’s completed. It will then be included on the Keepers on Parade map located on the organization’s website.

Visit TogetherWichita.com to learn more about how your organization or company can become involved and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2017 TOGETHER WICHITA PARTICIPANTS

Sean Weaver
Allen, Gibbs & Houlik

Susan Armstrong
Armstrong Chamberlin

Patty L. Sanders
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

Walter Berry
Berry Companies, Inc.

Jeff Longwell
City of Wichita

Bob Thurman
Credit Union of America

Kacie St. John
EddysEverything.com

Charles Millsap
Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch

Dr. Amy Carey
Friends University

Ben Hutton
Hutton Construction

Ben Jennings
The Wichita Eagle

Patty Koehler
JR Custom Metals Products, Inc.

Scott Schwindaman
Lubrication Engineers, Inc.

Dr. Noreen M. Carrocci
Newman University

Thomas Gentile
Spirit AeroSystems

Patrick J. Hanrahan
United Way of the Plains

Bill Voloch
Wesley Healthcare

Don Sherman
Westar Energy

Sheree Utash
Wichita Area Technical College

Gary Plummer
Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Dr. John Bardo
Wichita State University

Weller Named CFO

Sheryl Weller begins her new role on Monday, December 4.

Sheryl Weller has been named the Chief Financial Officer for both the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Wichita Partnership. Weller begins her new position on December 4 and said, “As I join the Wichita community, I’m very excited to share my expertise with these organizations for the advancement of economic development and quality of life for the entire region.”

Weller majored in Accounting at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. A graduate of the 2013 Class of Leadership Greater Topeka, she has held professional accounting and leadership positions in that community with the State of Kansas, Kansas Highway Patrol and most recently the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

Jeff Fluhr, President of the Greater Wichita Partnership, and Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said that Weller was selected based on her extensive experience and her desire to provide support for a community-focused organization and mission.

Please help us welcome Sheryl to the community.

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

The mission of the Greater Wichita Partnership is to align resources and focus the business community on common strategies that fast-forward economic growth in the greater Wichita region.

Nominate your favorite small biz for Small Business of the Year

We are currently accepting nominations for our 2017 Small Business Awards through Friday, Dec. 15! The program, now in its 14th year, offers well-deserved recognition to small businesses for their achievements and contributions to our community and provides owners and employees the opportunity to showcase their company, share their story and be rewarded for their efforts.

The Monarch was the recipient of our 2017 Small Business of the Year Award in Tier One.

Nominations take less than a minute and can be made online at wichitachamber.org/awards. Please help us honor the small businesses that make our region unique and vibrant by nominating them for this award.

Business Criteria for Participation

  • Headquartered in Wichita metro area
  • Employ between 1-25 FTE for Tier One, or 26-100 FTE for Tier Two
  • Have been in business for at least three years
  • Demonstrate a commitment to good business practices
  • Maintain good employee relations
  • Contribute to the community
  • Have primary source of revenues from business operations, rather than grants, donors, or governmental funding (not-for-profits may be eligible to apply if they meet this criteria)
  • Be a member in good standing of the Wichita Regional Chamber at the time of application

Mahaney Roofing was the recipient of our 2017 Small Business of the Year Award in Tier Two.

Companies nominated will be invited to attend a complimentary nomination reception at the Chamber on Thursday, January 4 to learn more about the awards process and application materials.

Then in the spring, one business from each tier will be selected as the 2018 Small Business of the Year, which will be announced at an awards luncheon.

Member Minute with Profile by Sanford Health

Member Minute profiles are meant to highlight Chamber member businesses in a format that can be read in a few minutes.
You may have heard about weight management program Profile by Sanford from their advertisements in local media. But did you know that all of the people in their advertisements feature real people who have found success with their program, not paid actors? We sat down with Certified Profile Coach Sam Schaefer (pictured) to learn more about the business and how they can help Wichita businesses.

Please tell us a little bit about your company.
Profile is a weight management program using coaching, technology and meal replacements to help our members lose weight and keep it off. Profile was developed in 2012 by physicians at Sanford Health; one of the country’s largest healthcare not-for-profit healthcare systems. Profile Wichita has 7 Profile Coaches who support over 500 members as they push toward their nutrition, activity and lifestyle goals. Our mission is to change lives one relationship at a time.

Why did you join the Chamber?
Joining the Chamber was a “no-brainer” and is the perfect way to add value to the Wichita business community. The most valuable part is having instant access to people and businesses in Wichita who need our services and we need theirs.

What is the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
I think the best thing about doing business here in Wichita is the ease of networking and abundant business growth opportunities. News travels fast in Wichita and we’re looking to deepen our roots in this city.

Describe your business’ most recent success.
Here in Wichita, our coaches and customized coaching experiences have helped our members lose over 9,000lb. Profile was recently named #60 in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top New 500 Franchises for 2017 and we’ve helped over 100,000 people lose a collective 1 million pounds.

To what do you attribute your success?
Profile’s success can be traced back to our physician advisory board, education and leadership team, but most importantly our coaches. Profile coaches are the heartbeat of our company. They build relationships with our members and are invested in their success.

What is your favorite Chamber event, program, or service?
Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) is one of my favorite Chamber programs. I look back to when I first joined YPW and the connections I made five years ago – fast forward to now, and I’m still in contact with them and our companies do business together.

What is something people may not know about you or your business?
Profile by Sanford is a not-for-profit and our revenue goes back to Sanford Health to support the research and development of cures for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other life-threatening health conditions.

What has Chamber membership brought to you and your business?
Chamber membership has opened a lot of doors for Profile. The networking, business development, volunteering and community engagement opportunities are endless.

Where do you see your organization in five years?
Profile will grow from the current 30 locations to over 60 in the next 3 years, some of which will expand into Canada. Here in Wichita, I see ourselves opening a 2nd location to provide more value to our current and future east-side members.

What about your business/organization are you most passionate?
My aim is to coach our members to their weight loss goal, but through education and lifestyle modification they’ll be able to maintain their weight loss for a lifetime.

Favorite business book?
The MomShift by Reva Seth. Women share their stories of career success after having children.

Complete this sentence: “When a customer walks into my business, they can expect…”
…an extremely high level of customer service. Don’t be surprised if your coach greets with you a smile and a handshake, asks about your kids’ last basketball tournament, and helps you carry your food to your car. It’s just part of our culture.

Is your company involved in any community/civic activities?
We have partnered with area school districts, small businesses and large corporations to provide a free comprehensive wellness program. We have also joined the Greater Wichita YMCA in raising funds to support their Strong Communities Campaign.

Is there anything else you would like to include?
Coaches can work with individuals with various health considerations and children as young as 8 years old (with a physician referral). Profile has also expanded to include a performance line of products and the knowledge to build meal plans to support athletes and active adults.

You can find Profile by Sanford Health in Wichita at 2616 N. Maize Rd., or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Would your company or organization like to be featured in a Member Minute profile? Just send your request or nomination to Courtney Sendall

New Angles from the Triangle

by Scott Schwindaman
2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce
CEO and President of Lubrication Engineers, Inc.

Note:  this post was originally published as an editorial in the Wichita Eagle.

Scott Schwindaman is the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Recently, more than 50 business and community leaders returned from the Triangle with new ideas and thoughts about how to further advance the Wichita region in many areas.

The Triangle refers to the area including Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina and was the site of our yearly City to City visit. Famous for its Research Triangle Park, one of the nation’s oldest most notable planned commercial developments for research and innovation, it has attracted thousands of jobs to the area since the 1960’s. Although the Research Triangle development is nearly built out, it’s obvious that the Triangle area is not resting on its laurels to further advance the area.

The Wichita group toured a variety of sites and learned from a number of speakers who shared the secret of the area’s sustained success through the 60 plus years of existence. Among the most popular spots with the group was the baseball stadium which is the relatively new home of the Durham Bulls, one of America’s most successful minor league franchises. We also saw firsthand the Centennial Campus at North Carolina State in the heart of Raleigh. This university is the inspiration for Wichita State’s Innovation Campus, and we were delighted to have WSU President John Bardo join us to explain how this campus was the vision for Wichita State in attracting and engaging business in a campus setting.

Many other areas are visited during these trips that are relevant to our community included entrepreneurship, education, economic development and quality of life. One of our more timely stops was at the Raleigh Convention Center, which stimulated a lot of conversation among the Wichitans who made the trip due to the current conversation in our community surrounding the direction forward with the Century II convention/performing arts area.

One of the great side effects of these city leadership visits is the opportunity to get to know other Wichita leaders on a more personal level. Our group this year was very diverse, including young professionals and leaders from throughout the Wichita regional area. That diversity made the Raleigh trip even more rewarding and should build a more cohesive regional leadership connection going forward.

The real test comes in what our “take-aways” are and what we’re able to execute at home from these annual trips. You can certainly point to a number of recent Wichita projects that resulted from these trips over the past 10 years, including the Downtown Master Plan (Oklahoma City, 2008 trip), our entrepreneurial resurgence (Omaha, 2012 and Austin, 2014), diversity/inclusion efforts (Greenville, SC 2015) and more.

I’m excited about what will come out of the Raleigh/Durham experience and encourage everyone who has participated in the past or this year to remain engaged to move our great city forward. If you have not had the opportunity to participate in one of these visits I encourage you to contact the Chamber as these visits will open your mind as to what can be done here at home.

Connections Made at Exposure 2017

Another rendition of the region’s premiere business-to-business trade show is in the books, and what a wonderful day is was! You could feel the energy in the air in Century II Expo Hall during Exposure, and with 215 exhibitors and 1,700+ attendees, it was the place to be in Wichita business. Below is a recap of some of the day’s highlights.

Making Connections, Growing Business
First-time exhibitor

The Hairy Sofa’s four-legged exhibitors were popular with other exhibitors and attendees alike.

Julie Breault with Heartland Animal Hospital and The Hairy Sofa Pet Grooming Boutique said participating in Exposure was a positive experience for her company. “I was very impressed with the number of exhibitors and attendees. I enjoyed meeting my fellow Chamber members and making connections with people I would not normally be exposed to. Thank you Wichita Chamber for making this a super successful event for my businesses.”

Reverie’s coffee catering bar earned their team an award during their inaugural year.

Reverie Coffee Roasters became a quick favorite on the show floor, even winning the Best Biz Bite Award. Kaitlyn Wall, Reverie’s Operations Manager, said, “We loved participating in Exposure 2017 because of all the new and familiar faces we met and look forward to working with. At Reverie, we try to find and create ways to connect with the community; this is a great event for getting out and making those connections with other local businesses!”

We love hearing success stories like these, and invite you to consider participating in next year’s show!

Award Winners
The Exposure Awards have become highly sought-after and the exhibitors listed below took home the titles.

  • Best Biz Bite: Reverie Coffee Roasters
  • Best Branded: K. Lane’s Boutique
  • Best In Show: Hyatt Regency Wichita
  • Best Spirited: Auto Craft Collision Repair
  • Best Tabletop: Personal Touch Events
  • Best Technology: World Studios
  • Rookie of the Year: Shaken or Stirred Bartending

Post-Event Content
Several exhibitors and attendees shared their Exposure experience after the event via blog and video. Thank you to these companies for taking time to create content from the show!

Thank you to the sponsors, exhibitors and attendees who helped make Exposure what it was, and a special thank you to the show’s Presenting Sponsor, Cox Business!

See photos from the event on our Facebook page, and save the date of Thursday, September 27 for Exposure 2018.