Is Wichita embracing or dismissing emerging trends?

Carol Coletta shared her expertise on developing communities that attract and retain talent during the first presentation in the Fuel the Fire speaker series. Coletta spoke to a group of more than two hundred who gathered to hear about emerging trends and how Wichita can provide catalytic growth opportunities. Cities ignoring or denying these trends will lose their competitive advantage.

–The world is moving too fast to research and replicate “best practices” in other places.

–58% of the success of your community is tied to college-educated talent. Your community’s college graduation should be measured, monitored and moving upward.

–An economically integrated community positively influences intergenerational mobility within that community.

–Economic mobility is more difficult than ever to achieve today, especially if you don’t live near a college-educated talent pool.

–A vibrant core is imperative for your community’s success and evidence supports the importance of ‘place’ as an accelerator of talent and opportunity.

–The 25-34 age group wants to live within a 3-mile (walkable) radius of the city core. This is a 40-year trend that keeps accelerating. This age group chooses ‘place’ first and then looks for jobs.

–Business is following talent back to city cores.

–Every city has a distinctiveness and you must find yours and promote it. What are the attributes that make your city unique?

–Brand exhaustion makes your city’s localness more appealing.

–The future of a city is no longer determined by a few bold decisions made by several key people. Community development is now a product of lots of decisions made by lots of people.

–Cities should retain and capitalize on loyalty from those who aren’t always physically present in the community, but might contribute their time, talent or treasure if asked. U.S. cities haven’t approached this fractional loyalty in an organized way, but the country of Australia has made a concerted effort to stay networked with their citizens who live abroad.

Coletta warned that that the non-believers will tell you not to invest in your community and will cause you to continue to fall further and further behind. She advised the crowd to put every community decision they are asked to support to a simple test. Does it increase talent, opportunity, or quality of place?

A challenge was also issued to the 25-34 age group in Wichita to have the courage to start building vibrancy now. “There’s no need to wait for permission to get started,” said Coletta. It’s time for all age groups to understand Wichita’s Localness and lean into it.

Next up in the speaker’s series is native Wichitan James Chung on September 17. He’ll share his insight into the demographic changes affecting communities like Wichita. RSVP for the remaining two events in the speaker series here, and see the official press release about the series here.

Carol Coletta speaks to a crowd of 200+ at the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series kick off.

Carol Coletta speaks to a crowd of 200+ at the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series kick off.


Coletta Kicks Off Fuel the Fire Speaker Series this Thursday

Carol Coletta

Carol Coletta

You have heard us talking about it, and now the time has almost arrived for the The Fuel the Fire Speaker Series to begin. Carol Coletta, Vice President of Community and National Initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is an expert on the development of cities and will be in Wichita this Thursday, Aug. 28 to speak about the importance of cultivating and sustaining talent in Wichita.

The series of three speakers, which is designed to engage the community in conversations revolving around national trends, will focus on how to competitively position Wichita for the future. The Wichita Community Foundation, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce have partnered to make this series possible.

Before joining the Knight Foundation in 2013, Coletta was director of ArtPlace, a unique public-private collaboration to accelerate creative placemaking in communities across the United States. ArtPlace brings together leading private foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, other federal agencies and major banks.

Coletta is also a past president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders. She has served as executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, and also ran a Memphis-based public affairs consulting firm, Coletta & Company, focused on civic issues.

She has written and spoken extensively on the future of cities, including how communities develop, attract and retain talent, making her the perfect person to kick off the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series.

Coletta‘s keynote, which is free and open to the public, is on Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. at The LUX (120 E. 1st St. N.). For additional details, and to RSVP, visit

Media Links
Official News Release
Jeff Fluhr of WDDC and Shelly Prichard of WCF on 99.7 Lite FM Lite is Local 
Wichita Business Journal Article
Wichita Eagle Article