Digital Wichita Elevates Local Social Media Practices

MEMBER MINUTE WITH DIGITAL WICHITA

Digital Wichita joined the Chamber on Monday, April 2. We’ve interviewed their co-chair, Phil Mershon, for a profile of the organization and to introduce the group to our membership.

Some of the current Digital Wichita Leadership Team members are pictured above. They’re currently working on several 2018 social media events for the Wichita area.

What’s the mission of Digital Wichita?
Our nonprofit group elevates social media practices through access to educational events with nationally-known speakers and authors.

How long has the group been bringing experts to Wichita?
A group of four digital entrepreneurs (Naomi Shapiro, J.D. Patton, Eba Hamid and Cindy Kelly) formed Digital Wichita in 2010 to exchange best practices and improve their own social media skills. The group also wanted to learn from the best practitioners and began producing educational events in 2015. Our first event attracted 225 attendees.

Over the years we’ve brought a number of experts to Wichita, including:  Marcus Sheridan (The Sales Lion), Mark Schaefer (Schaefer Marketing Solutions), Shannon Johnson (Alaska Air) and Jeff Sieh (Social Media Examiner). It’s very beneficial to Wichita when the nation’s leading social media experts make connections with area business leaders. They become national ambassadors for our business community.

Digital Wichita secured author Marcus Sheridan for a learning experience event that was held in Wichita last October.

To what do you owe your success?
We have a very focused, passionate and well-connected group of about ten people on our planning team. They all volunteer their time to plan these events and they have a history of working well together. They have access to numerous local resources, but they’ve also developed valuable national connections so that we can secure some of the most sought-after speakers for our events.

The partnerships we’ve developed with other area organizations have really expanded our outreach the last three years. Organizations like the Chamber, Applied Technology Acceleration Institute, Douglas Design District and WIBA share our passion for elevating their social media game. They help us reach more businesses and organizations who are interested in keeping on top of the latest social media tools, measurements and practices.

What’s your most recent success story?
Convincing former Disney executive Duncan Wardle to offer an all-day innovation workshop focused on design thinking in Wichita on April 19 has been very rewarding. We’re using a new model that makes it possible to offer the interactive and hands-on learning experience for $200 per person, a fraction of the usual price. His goal is to help people break through their creative blocks and push past ‘group think.’

Wichita’s entrepreneurial community has been re-energized during the last few years and so the timing is perfect for this workshop. Transforming a great idea into a real working business model requires unleashing and capitalizing on creativity. And sharing those breakthroughs through social media channels is a powerful way to expand on them.

We’re offering Chamber members a reduced cost through the Chamber member-to-member discount program so we hope to meet many of them when they attend. Use the code Chamber50 for $50 off.

Digital Wichita celebrated Social Media Day in 2017 with an event that featured a panel of the digital experts behind Wichita’s top Instagram accounts, including several local entrepreneurs.

How does your organization differ from other area marketing organizations?
We focus solely on social media and we’ve cultivated professional and personal relationships with well-known experts who speak all over the country. We aren’t trying to replace or compete with other marketing organizations. We really enjoy partnering with them and we’re very open to new and innovative ways to work together. We don’t have a monthly meeting or offer annual memberships. We stay laser-focused on one or two events per year.

Why do you like doing business in Wichita?
We really love the entrepreneurial spirit here. People are willing to keep trying until they succeed. This is a large community with a very tight-knit feel. People are very connected. You can generally get to anyone you need to reach with just a few conversations.

Why did you join the Chamber?
We went through the process of becoming a legal nonprofit entity last year. Joining the Chamber was the next logical step.

Becoming more adept at social media helps businesses of all sizes thrive locally and expand their global reach. We want them to succeed in marketing their goods and services internationally. So our mission definitely aligns with the Chamber’s efforts to improve the overall business environment in the region. We believe membership will increase our visibility and provide us with more opportunities to partner with other organizations and businesses.

What’s your favorite Chamber event?
I attended the Chamber’s Annual Meeting last year and I’ve always been impressed with the caliber of speakers who headline that event.

Do you have a charity component to your work?
We want our events to be affordable to companies and organizations of all sizes, so we just try to cover our basic expenses with a low registration fee. In the event that we do raise a little extra money, we’d definitely like to give back to the city that has helped shape us. We’re interested in donating to local nonprofits, especially those that use and understand the power of social media.

Please welcome Digital Wichita to the Chamber by following them on these social media channels:  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 Contact Kresta Dundas at 316-268-1115 if you are interested in joining the Chamber or know a company/organization that would benefit from Chamber membership.

Growing the Youth Employment Project

By Jonathan Long, Director of Community Advancement for the Chamber

Jonathan Long is the Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement.

How many of you remember your first job? For many of us that experience – great or otherwise – helped set a foundation that we’ve continued to build upon professionally. However, many of today’s youth are waiting later and later to establish this foundation and thus aren’t developing the soft skills and work habits needed to excel in the full-time work world.

The Youth Employment Project (YEP) is helping young adults make progress on this issue. YEP teaches Wichitans, as young as age 16, the skills necessary to become great employees and then connects them with an employer to provide a work experience to practice those skills. The program is a partnership between several community organizations and employers.

In 2017, the project placed 463 individuals with 91 employers. This year we want to increase that number. Spirit AeroSystems provided 20 work experiences in 2017 and they’ve doubled their commitment for 2018. We’d love to see more companies increase their placements as well.

Enhancing our human capital has been a growing issue for Wichita and the South Central Kansas region for quite some time. A way to combat the exodus of our talent is by forging a deeper and earlier connection with our local talent pool. There is no better way to do that than with a youth employment experience.

How can you get involved?

  • HIRE
    interns (age 14-21) for a six- to 10-week paid work experience opportunity.
  • SPONSOR
    an intern’s paid work experience opportunity at another business or organization.
  • SPREAD THE WORD
    about this important program through your own professional and social networks.

For more information contact the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas:
Employers  call 316-771-6622
Intern Applicants – call 316-771-6620

Follow this link to see a 2017 video produced by the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas regarding the Youth Employment Project from the perspective of employers.

Scholarship Applications Due March 30

The Wichita Manufacturer’s Association (WMA) is a Chamber affiliate that encourages students to pursue manufacturing careers. The organization offers scholarships for those planning to study manufacturing at any technical college, community college or state college/university in Kansas.

The scholarship program was created in 1993 to support the educational and training opportunities that develop better manufacturing interest, methods and employees. The organization distributed a record number of 24 scholarships last year. Complete and return this year’s application before March 30 to be eligible for one of their $1,000 scholarships towards tuition or related education expenses.

All applicants will be notified of results in April. Scholarships are awarded for the academic year starting in the fall.

Wichita’s Tourney Celebration Was A Slam Dunk

Everyone was a hoopster during Tourney Week. The Wichita Thunder’s mascot, TDog, scored big time with this winning image.

Wichita celebrated March Madness in style last week as the community hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Our thanks to all the tourney planners and organizers who did an extraordinary job of securing the event and then rolling out the red carpet for tournament fans, officials, coaches and players. They made Wichita shine and all of our visitors feel welcome!

We’re rooting for the teams who are still playing and enjoying all the highs and lows associated with March Madness. And we’re still cheering for the over-sized basketball hoop and Wichita flag backboard in front of the Chamber building that was installed by Luminous Neon Inc. Art & Sign Systems to celebrate the event. This engineering marvel easily withstood several earthquakes in early March and strong wind gusts that peaked at 51 mph around Wichita on March 6. It was definitely built to last.

Alison Percy from the Chamber did a crossover dribble before posting a basket and a picture during tourney week.

Tournament fans have been taking videos and photos in front of the three-dimensional display showing off their best basketball moves since it went up in late February. Some of the images have been posted and shared on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell was the first person to stop by and take a picture on the day it was installed. Area team mascots like TDog from the Wichita Thunder, Heartyandme with the American Heart Association and Baby Jay from the University of Kansas School of Medicine also posted pictures and videos. Congressman Ron Estes shot some hoops in front of the Chamber last weekend and posted a picture on Facebook that he also included in his constituent newsletter. And it’s been a unique backdrop for reporters covering the tournament.

Last week’s social media contest sponsored by Luminous Neon awarded daily winners on Twitter and Instagram who posted images with the hoops display. They earned gift cards from Chamber member restaurants located in the downtown area. Our congratulations to these winners and our thanks to Luminous Neon for their contest sponsorship.

TWITTER WINNERS:  @KirstaMNews – @andymcfayden – @weberk – @AHAKansas – @shaychic – @KUSM_Wichita – @Wichita_Thunder

INSTAGRAM WINNERS: @markhchamberlin – @mandynfouse – @randilanggmailcom – @maryblea08 – @dannymike – @crystalathrop – @jcody864

Although it’s tempting to keep it in place until the NCAA Tournament returns to Wichita in 2021, our giant hoop and backboard are scheduled for removal when the tourney ends. Until then, keep showing us your basketball fever Wichita. We love seeing and sharing your #ILoveWichita posts.

POST A PIC Promo for NCAA Tourney

Post your pictures from March 11-17. Photo credit: Andy McFayden and Mandy Fouse.

Our partners at Luminous Neon had so much fun developing our over-sized basketball hoop and backboard that they are sponsoring a social media contest next week to generate more NCAA tourney excitement. The rules are pretty simple and there are daily gift card prizes to Chamber member eateries.

So get creative and snap a photo in front of the Chamber with our giant basketball hoop and backboard when you’re downtown. Then post your image between March 11 and 17 to welcome NCAA fans, coaches and players. All the official rules are shown below.

SHOW US YOUR MOVES!
– Post your picture with our giant basketball hoop and backboard at 350 West Douglas on either Twitter or Instagram (or both) from 1 a.m. on March 11 through midnight on March 17.

– Tag @chamberwichita and include #ilovewichita in every post.

– One $30 gift card will be awarded daily to one winner on Twitter and one on Instagram. Winners chosen randomly every 24 hours.

– Contestants must have a public profile to participate.

– The promotion complies with all Twitter and Instagram content regulations and contest rules including only one Twitter post per day per person and Instagram winners must be at least 13 years of age.

– Chamber employees and employees of their affiliates are not eligible for prizes.

Follow the Chamber on Instagram and Twitter to see all the creative contest entries. And keep using the #ilovewichita hashtag to welcome our NCAA guests and to highlight all the great things they can experience in Wichita.

Chamber announces 2018 Small Business of the Year finalists

Congratulations to the 2018 Small Business of the Year finalists.

It’s official. The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced the finalists for the 2018 Small Business of the Year award. This is the 14th year for the Small Business Awards program, which is presented by the 2017 award recipients: Mahaney Roofing Company and The Monarch.

In addition to offering well-deserved recognition to small businesses for their achievements and contributions to our community, the program provides owners and their employees the opportunity to showcase their company, share their story, and be rewarded for their efforts.

“Small businesses are at the heart of our community, with more than 80% of our members falling into the small business category,” Chamber President Gary Plummer said. “This program is one of the ways we can recognize the outstanding companies that are creating jobs, giving back to Wichita and making this a stronger community. Congratulations to each of these finalists.”

The award program is split into two categories: Tier One, for companies with 25 employees or less; and Tier Two, for companies with between 26 and 100 employees.

Tier One Finalists
McCurdy Auction, LLC
Paint the Towne
Reverie Coffee Roasters
Shelden Architecture
Watermark Books & Cafe

Tier Two Finalists
Allmetal Recycling, LLC
Elite Staffing Solutions
Stearman Field Bar & Grill
The Anchor

More than 120 small businesses were nominated for the award, and 18 completed the application process. The finalists will be featured at a Sunrise Scrambler event on April 11, and an Awards Luncheon will be held on May 23 to announce this year’s winners.

To apply for the award, companies must be headquartered in Wichita, have been in business at least three years, and be Chamber members. Applicants are then evaluated on their business success, employee relations and community contributions.

More information about the Small Business Awards program and a complete list of past winners can be found at wichitachamber.org/awards.

Surprising and Delighting Hoops Fans!

Our thanks to Luminous Neon President Joe Ontjes said his team for making our hoop-tastic dreams come true!

We’ve been counting down the days until the region hosts the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament March 15-17. The primary tourney hotel, the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, is just across the street from us, so we have the perfect location for welcoming basketball fans, coaches and players to Wichita. But we had to get a bit creative with our welcome message since we don’t have a marquee or digital signage.

That’s where Joe Ontjes and the creative Luminous Neon Art & Sign Systems team came into the picture. The Luminous team installed a new pedestal sign for the Chamber last year as part of our rebranding initiative. Today they stopped by to install some large temporary “Welcome” decals for us. But they didn’t stop there. They decided to surprise and delight both locals and visiting hoops fans with something very special.

We’re now the proud owners of an oversized basketball backboard that’s perfect for memorable photo ops. The creatives at Luminous outdid themselves with this unique three-dimensional display that includes our favorite hashtag, #ILoveWichita.

The team at Luminous Neon created a special welcome display for basketball fans, coaches and players who will be visiting the city in March.

Luminous Neon President Joe Ontjes said his team enjoyed developing the concept and then producing the king-sized basketball goal. Ontjes said, “Although this big hoop is a departure from the business signs we fabricate daily, it’s the kind of challenge that drives our creative team to do its best work. We feel like we accomplished our mission of making the Chamber’s basketball swishes come true.”

So stop by in the next few weeks and take a selfie with our temporary hoops signage. You can post it as a welcome to the teams, coaches and fans that Wichita will be hosting during tourney week. And then get ready to celebrate at one (or more) of the events our staff has put together to maximize your hoops experience.

YPW/CHAMBER LUNCH & LEARN | “Courtside Q&A” – March 6
A Lunch & Learn for YPs and Chamber members where panelists will discuss the upcoming basketball tournament and what hosting it means for Wichita! We’ll hear from AJ Boleski of INTRUSTBank Arena, Cindy Claycomb from the Wichita City Council, and Moji Rosson of Visit Wichita. Follow this link to register.

MINGLE ON COMMERCE – March 14
Join us as we partner with Xclusive Events on Wednesday, March 14 for the Mingle on Commerce from 4:30 – 6:30 PM. Wear your favorite basketball jersey or team colors and enjoy a cash bar and food trucks. There’s no fee, so no need to register. Learn more here.

MINGLE MADNESS WITH YPW – March 15
Young Professionals of Wichita and the Realtors of South Central Kansas will host an evening mingle at Distillery 244 to celebrate all things basketball. Follow this link to register.

Spreading #ILoveWichita across the city

We like to say that the #ILoveWichita movement has been fueled by pride, passion and partnerships. Without all three, the message would not be as far reaching as it is. One example of these partnerships is with the team at Atomic Billboards. In 2016, Atomic donated billboard space to display images from Instagram that were posted using #ILoveWichita.

Now a second rendition of the campaign is underway. We’re asking you to share what you love about Wichita so that others have an authentic view of what makes our region so unique. Maybe it’s the food scene. Does the thriving art community fill you with pride? Do you love experiencing diverse cultural events throughout the year? Do you find yourself sharing images of our first-class sunsets with friends who don’t live in Kansas? Is there a high-caliber area sports team that you always support? Do you live in the friendliest neighborhood on the planet? Whatever the reason, post it on Instagram and use #ILoveWichita, then look for your image on Atomic Billboards across the city.

Also partnering with us on this campaign is M.A.D. Ad Company. Starting next week, the #ILoveWichita messages will be shown on their Mirror Billboard Displays, located in several area bars and restaurants.

Our thanks to the teams at both Atomic Billboards and M.A.D. Company for helping spread #ILoveWichita throughout our city and region. Find more info at ILoveWichita.org, and join the #ILoveWichita movement today.

YPW hires Ulises Gonzalez

Ulises Gonzalez has joined YPW as the Program Coordinator.

By Dara Quastad 

Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) is excited to announce Ulises Gonzalez has been hired as the Program Coordinator. Ulises was previously the Director of the Hispanic College Institute and the Student Leader of Inclusion & Diversity Excellence at Fort Hays State University. While at Fort Hayes, he served as the Student Body President from June 2015 to May 2016. He also has held positions at Hays Public School District and at the Broadmoor Hotel.

Ulises is a 2017 graduate of Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor of Science in Tourism & Hospitality Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.

In his new role, Ulises will oversee event and program management for YPW, manage and coach volunteers, and support membership onboarding and engagement. Ulises says that he loves Wichita because the city “embraces an inclusive community that celebrates diversity, supporting people from different backgrounds. It makes people feel like they belong, just like it did with me.”

He officially joined YPW Monday, February 19.

On Valentine’s Day (and every day), we love our interns

Written by Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer

We love our interns: Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer!

Our team has grown by two, as Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer have joined the Chamber as marketing interns.

Dara Quastad is working with Young Professional of Wichita (YPW) as their communications and marketing intern. Born and raised in McPherson, Dara has spent the past four years at Sterling College and will graduate in May with a Bachelors in Public Relations. She is a member of Pi Kappa Delta National Speech and Debate Organization, a published author in the 2017 manuscript of top speeches by the Interstate Oratorical Association, and a representative and member of the Sterling College Forensic and Debate team. After graduation, Dara plans to stay in the Wichita area and pursue a career in public relations. As somewhat of an outsider to Wichita, she will bring a unique perspective that will be helpful when teamed up with individuals from the area. When asked about the her internship, Dara replied, “I am thrilled to join the YPW team and begin working with volunteers, as I share YPW’s passion for Wichita and all this city has to offer.” Dara officially joined YPW on January 30.

Emma Meyer, a senior at Valley Center High School, is contributing to the Chamber’s marketing and communications department. At school, Emma is involved in many different activities including softball, Letter Women’s Club, National Honors Society, Women’s Choir, and many more. Emma is also a part of Valley Center High School’s Internship Program, which brings her to the Chamber. When asked about her internship, Emma replied, “I am excited about my internship at the Wichita Chamber so I can learn more about business and marketing, which will help me decide what I would like to pursue as a career.” Emma joined the Chamber on January 16 and will be here through May. Next year she plans to attend Kansas State University.

Both Dara and Emma are receiving school credit for their time at the Chamber. In Dara’s case, this internship will earn the final credits for her degree. Please join us in welcoming them both to the Chamber!