Renewing Wichita’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Barry Schwan 2016 Chamber Chairman

Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman

By Barry Schwan
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.
2016 Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

If you’ve followed the work of Wichita native and economic analyst James Chung, you’ve heard him outline the four challenges facing Wichita. One of those is the Entrepreneurship Challenge. Chung’s findings indicate that Wichita is behind the curve in startup density and venture capital investments. He’s challenged Wichita to “move the needle” on entrepreneurship and drive innovation forward as we’ve done in the past.

The Chamber appreciates the efforts of two business leaders who are helping Wichita move the needle on entrepreneurship. As co-chairs of the Entrepreneurship Task Force (ETF), Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) and Scott Schwindaman (Lubrication Engineers) have spearheaded an inclusive approach to strengthening our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through their efforts, we’ve seen the emergence of e2e (Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur), a new nonprofit initiative where experienced area entrepreneurs are offering mentoring, seed money and programming to startups and scalable business ventures (see

In addition to their involvement in ETF, both Oborny and Schwindaman are members of the Chamber board of directors. Schwindaman will take over the helm as Chamber chairman in 2017. A past Chamber chairman, Wayne Chambers (High Touch Technologies), recently donated a prime downtown location to launch the e2e Accelerator. It’s at that new site that John Dascher, President/CEO of e2e, and Accelerator Director Jacob Wayman have assembled a team who are working daily to recharge Wichita’s entrepreneurship environment.

Awareness was the first step taken by Oborny, Schwindaman and others to face Wichita’s entrepreneurship challenge. They started convening nearly 40 different organizations on a biweekly basis nearly three years ago to focus attention on the most pressing needs of our entrepreneurs and the gaps in our support of them. Our hats are off to the many loyal supporters who are still a part of that movement in the Wichita region.

One of those partners has been the Wichita district of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Entrepreneurs must have access to capital, and it was reported in August that SBA expects to achieve a near-record lending total of $85 million in fiscal year 2016 (ending September 30). That’s up more than 15% from $72.3 million in 2015. Wichita SBA Director Wayne Bell attributes the increase in lending to more awareness about the variety of financing tools available to startups. That’s a very positive step in the right direction.

We’re also impressed with some of the partnerships that private companies are undertaking. GroundWork is a startup incubator housed in the new offices of Builders Plus Construction in downtown Wichita. Builders Plus Construction CEO Chris Callen believes that entrepreneurism is the key to Wichita’s future and he’s committed to housing early-stage startups who are working collaboratively in the new space.

To further energize Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit, the Chamber has secured one of the most sought after entrepreneurial experts in the country to speak at our December 1 Annual Meeting. As a major investor on ABC’s Emmy-winning Shark Tank series, Daymond John has invested more than $8 million to date on 61 deals with entrepreneurs across the country.  And while he certainly understands the importance of venture capital investments, his most recent book also champions the “power of broke” and the importance of creativity, substance and passion in entrepreneurial ventures.

All of these “good news” activities are renewing and revitalizing Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit. The community leaders who are supporting these vital programs through financial investments, expertise and mentorship are too many to mention in this column. The Chamber applauds all of these efforts and is proud to be part of the growing network supporting the region’s businesses and advocating for the best possible business environment.

This column was originally published in the September issue of Synergy, the Chamber’s quarterly newsletter. Check this link for the full contents of the six-page issue.

Daymond John Energizing Entrepreneurship on December 1

By Barry Schwan
2016 Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.

Accelerating entrepreneurship and economic opportunities across our region is imperative to accomplishing the Chamber’s mission and vision. If you’ve followed the work of Wichita native and economic analyst James Chung (, you’ve heard him outline the four challenges facing Wichita. As part of the Entrepreneurship Challenge, Chung has challenged Wichita to “move the needle” and grow entrepreneurship in our region.

Daymond's BlackSuitThe Chamber has always played a key role in driving innovation and improving our entrepreneurial ecosystem. And our 2016 Annual Meeting speaker will undoubtedly energize and inspire those developing new opportunities for our region. I’m pleased to announce that Daymond John, one of the most sought after entrepreneurial experts in the country, is speaking at our December 1 Annual Meeting. He will also be interacting on stage with local entrepreneurs.

As one of the stars of ABC’s Emmy-winning Shark Tank series, Daymond John has invested more than $8 million to date with 61 entrepreneurs across the country. And while he certainly understands the importance of venture capital investments, his most recent book also champions the “power of broke” and the necessity of creativity, authenticity, substance and passion in successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Known as “the people’s Shark” on the Shark Tank series, he’s developed a reputation for championing the underdogs on the show and helping them move their business models to the next level. An innovator, angel investor, television personality, author and motivational speaker, Daymond John is also a U.S. Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

Please plan to join me on December 1. And more importantly, please extend an invitation to the entrepreneurs, the innovators and the dreamers in your organization or company to join you. We must all be relentlessly fostering and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation so that Wichita becomes synonymous with economic opportunity.

Follow Daymond John @TheSharkDaymond on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Register to attend
Daymond John bio
Daymond John video – The Power of Broke (2 minutes)

Annual Meeting - Twitter

Morning Joe program headed to WSU campus Nov. 3

In what has been a year of firsts for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting event, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will co-host their daily Morning Joe program from Wichita on Tuesday, November 3 from 5 to 8 a.m. (CST). The live broadcast follows their participation in the Chamber’s Annual Meeting program on the evening of Monday, November 2. After scouting several locations, MSNBC officials selected the dining area of Shocker Hall dormitory on the Wichita State University (WSU) campus for the November 3 broadcast.

From left to right: Jason Neal of NBC News, Rachel Groene and Angie Elliott from the Chamber, and Raymond Herbert of MSNBC discuss broadcast options on the WSU campus.

From left to right: Jason Neal of NBC News, Rachel Groene and Angie Elliott from the Chamber, and Alex Korson of MSNBC discuss broadcast options on the WSU campus.

Angie Elliott, Director of Business Services for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, has been managing both events and worked with three representatives of MSNBC who visited Wichita last week. Elliott said WSU officials have been very helpful to the MSNBC crew and that the University’s experience hosting other nationally televised events makes them a valuable partner to the Morning Joe program. “MSNBC producers were familiar with all the impressive things happening at WSU. They were interested in touring some of the new facilities and thought the vibrancy of the campus would bring the right energy to their programming.”

WSU, Visit Wichita, and the Greater Wichita Partnership are community partners for the broadcast. Students, business leaders, elected officials, and the public will be invited to be part of the live audience for the program.

Morning Joe Broadcast:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 3 in the dining area of Shocker Hall dormitory on the Wichita State University campus
  • Televised from 5–8 a.m. (CST) on MSNBC
  • Sign up at Eventbrite to be part of the live audience (MSNBC Morning Joe Live Broadcast)
  • Doors open at 4:30 a.m. and participants should enter through the northeast entrance of the building.
  • Free parking for the public will be available in the lot surrounding Koch Arena.

Chamber Annual Meeting:

  • Monday, November 2 at Century II in Wichita from 6:30–9:30 p.m.
  • Balcony tickets for the Chamber’s evening program are $35, and can still be reserved online at

Chamber welcomes MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

Joe Scarborough

Follow Joe Scarborough on Twitter @JoeNBC

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has secured Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC’s Morning Joe program to interview Koch Industries Chairman and CEO Charles Koch on stage as part of the November 2nd Annual Meeting program. An added feature of the event includes the broadcast of the Morning Joe program live from Wichita the following day.

2015 Chamber Chairman Jon Rosell said that the evening with Koch will be enhanced by two nationally known and experienced interviewers. Rosell said, “All three of the people on stage that evening are thought leaders and authors who will have a lot to share with our community.”

Mika Brzezinski

Follow Mika Brzezinski on Twitter @morningmika

Gary Plummer, President and CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, is especially pleased about the opportunity to showcase Wichita the next day and to tell Wichita’s remarkable story.

Community partners for the next day’s broadcast in Wichita are Wichita State University, Visit Wichita, and the Greater Wichita Partnership.

Learn more about the event, speaker and the moderators:
Bios – Koch, Scarborough & Brzezinski
Annual Meeting reservation information

Follow the Morning Joe co hosts on social media:
Mika Brzezinski
@morningmika on Twitter, mikabrzezinski on Instagram, and Mika Brzezinski on Facebook
Joe Scarborough
@JoeNBC on Twitter, joescarborough on Instagram, and Joe Scarborough on Facebook

2015 Annual Meeting Speaker Announced

by Jon Rosell, 2015 Chamber Chairman

Every year the Chamber strives to make the Annual Meeting a memorable and informative occasion. I’m very pleased that our 2015 Annual Meeting promises to be one of the most unique events we’ve presented in quite some time.

Jon Rosell

Jon Rosell is the 2015 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.

On Monday, November 2, we’ll have an opportunity to hear from a global business leader who is also a Wichita native. The evening will include a discussion between our speaker and a nationally-known moderator, who will be announced at a later date.

We hope that you and your colleagues will join us.

Find out who our speaker is here:
Link to video
Link to news release
Link to program information and tickets

Dr. Condoleezza Rice inspires Wichita crowd at Chamber Annual Meeting

TJ7_6940Last week’s Annual Meeting kicked off with 2014 Board Chairman Wayne Chambers passing the gavel to 2015 Chairman Jon Rosell and ended with Dr. Condoleezza Rice answering questions submitted by the public. A crowd of 3,000 people were in attendance to hear the former U.S. Secretary of State’s presentation, which was packed full of quotable insight as she addressed a wide variety of topics from 9/11 and ISIS to education and football. We have collected some of our favorite Condoleezza quotes below.

  • “If you were in as position of authority on September 11, every day after that felt like September 12. From that moment on, our perception of security would never be the same.”
  • “Before we get impatient, we should remember democracy is really hard. And it takes a really long time.”
  • “The men and women of the military who volunteer to defend us are a gift the United States enjoys.”
  • “When the U.S. steps back, those who don’t believe in free people and free markets will take power.”
  • “When the world is this chaotic, we have to hope someone will lead. I hope it is the extraordinary country of the USA.”
  • “Education is the single most important intervention we have against social inequality.”
  • “We have to make sure if people work twice as hard, they have a chance.”
  • “Your role models and mentors don’t have to look like you. My role models were white men. If I had waited for a black, female Soviet specialist, I would still be waiting.”
  • “It doesn’t matter where you are coming from but it matters where you’re going.”

A big thank you to all our event sponsors (see below) and to all who attended.  See conversation from the event on Twitter using #RiceDec4 and view photos from the events on our Facebook page.

Media Coverage
Wichita Business Journal – “Condoleezza Rice sees education as route to equal opportunity”
Wichita Eagle – “Condoleezza Rice: Education disparity biggest threat to U.S. security”
Carrie Rengers – You don’t say

Presented by Murfin, Inc.

Premier Sponsors
Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Cox Business, High Touch Technologies,
INTRUST Bank, Kennedy and Coe, LLC, Lubrication Engineers, Inc.,
Meritrust Credit Union, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., Westar Energy

Dr. Condoleezza Rice Speaking on December 4 at Annual Meeting

Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Dr. Condoleezza Rice

By Wayne Chambers

By now our Chamber members have received a digital announcement that our 2014 Annual Meeting speaker is Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State of the United States. Her resume and international experience are very impressive and you can follow this link to view her official bio.

Dr. Rice is passionate about many of the issues that concern area business leaders:  educating our workforce, international relations, and leadership development.

An articulate barrier breaker for both her race and gender, she’s also an accomplished musician and a natural athlete. In fact, she’s such an avid football fan that I’m told she’s never missed a Super Bowl game.

I’m delighted that our sponsors have made it possible to bring her to Wichita. Our special thanks to Murfin Drilling Company, the presenting sponsor for the event. Premiere sponsors include: Bank of America, Cox Business, High Touch Technologies, INTRUST Bank, Kennedy and Coe, LLC, Lubrication Engineers Inc., Meritrust Credit Union, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., and Westar Energy.

I also appreciate the assistance from Mark Chamberlin of Armstrong Chamberlin Strategic Marketing who developed a special video announcement that was shared with Chamber membership earlier today and is available on the Chamber’s YouTube channel, titled Wichita Metro Chamber.

I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting on December 4 at Century II, and I encourage you to make your reservations for the event as soon as possible.

You can learn more about Dr. Rice by following her on Twitter @CondoleezzaRice and Facebook at Condoleeza Rice. She’s also produced two best-selling books about her experiences and you’ll find those book titles on her official bio.

See the article from Carrie Rengers’ ‘Have You Heard’ column here.

This is My Town

Last night nearly 1,000 area business leaders had the opportunity to hear the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, Jim Clifton, share his thoughts about how to stimulate job growth.  Mr. Clifton’s presentation was part of the Chamber’s Annual Meeting program.

We’ve covered many of Clifton’s ideas in previous posts.  Here are a few additional thoughts that Mr. Clifton provided for us to consider.

  • The start-up conversation is very different in communities that encourage job growth. It’s all about leadership. You need about 100 people in your city who gather together and say, “This is my town and I’d rather die than lose it.”
  • Americans are still an exceptional tribe of people. Winston Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to get it right—after they’ve tried everything else.”
  • We have to “out-enterprise” the rest of the world if the U.S. is going to rise again.
  • The next group of leaders must have enormous talent for developing people—moving our workforce from unengaged to engaged.

You can follow these links to articles, photos and videos that provide coverage of the event.

Annual Meeting 125


CliffsNotes on Clifton: Part Two

Best Take-Aways from “The Coming Jobs War” – Part Two

Every strategy about everything Wichita does has to relate to small-business creation and acceleration.

As promised, here are some of the best take-aways from chapters seven through twelve of Clifton’s book, to familiarize you with some of his ideas prior to hearing him speak on November 5, at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting.

Chapter Seven – Entrepreneurship vs. Innovation
The precious connector between innovator and customer is the almighty entrepreneur:  the person who envisions a value and a customer and then creates a business model and strategy that create sales and profit.

Chapter Eight – High-Energy Workplaces
Going from 30 million engaged workers to 60 million engaged workers would change the face of America more than any leadership institution, trillions of stimulus dollars, or any law or policy imaginable.

Chapter Nine – Customer  Science
Talent and relationships can almost always beat low price – they inspire customer engagement.

Chapter Ten – K-12 Schools – Where Entrepreneurs are Created
Student graduation is one of the most definitive predictors of your city’s future innovation, entrepreneurship, and subsequent job and GDP growth.

Chapter Eleven – Fix Healthcare or Destroy Job Creation
There is no single act of leadership that has bigger money implications than simply doubling the number of fit Americans.

Chapter Twelve – Global Wellbeing
America can’t lead the world economy without a disproportionate market share of the most talented people in the world. The next big economic city empires will rise up where the most talented entrepreneurs migrate and stay.

The next biggest job source is the approximately 5% of existing small companies that shoot up to big success. Cities have to create environments where this is highly encouraged, supported, mentored and celebrated. Every strategy about everything has to relate to small-business creation and acceleration.

Gary Plummer
President & CEO
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

CliffsNotes on Clifton: Part One

Best Take-Aways from “The Coming Jobs War” – Part One

As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, the Chamber has distributed over 300 copies of Gallup CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton’s book, The Coming Jobs War, to area leaders.

The 225-page book is a quick read that offers some interesting ideas for advancing job creation efforts.

I’ve summarized one of the best take-aways from the first six chapters below for those of you who won’t have time to finish the book before hearing Mr. Clifton speak at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, November 5.

The highest levels of leadership require mastery of a new task:  job creation.

Chapter One – What 7 Billion People Want
Leaders of countries and cities must make creating good jobs their No. 1 mission and primary purpose because good jobs are becoming the new currency for all world leaders.

Chapter Two – Joblessness
Businesses with 500 or fewer employees represent more than 99% of the 6 million businesses in the U.S. with at least one employee.

Chapter Three – China’s Surge
When China’s GDP surpasses America’s, it will dominate the world economically by a margin far more than the United States currently has.

Chapter Four – Unless
If World War II saved the republic and democracy, the unforeseen technology-entrepreneurial boom that lasted from 1970 to 2000 re-saved the United States economically.

Chapter Five – Classical Economics vs. Behavioral Economics
Almost all new jobs are created by start-ups and small and medium-sized companies. Gigantic companies tend to decrease jobs. Mergers and acquisitions destroy more jobs than they create.

Chapter Six – Cities
Cities that create a culture that responds to innovation become a beacon for the most talented people in the world. You have to jumpstart your city yourself.

I’ll post some of the best take-aways from chapters seven through twelve tomorrow.

Gary Plummer
President & CEO
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce