Leadership is Key to a Strong Education System

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

We applaud the Board of Education of Wichita Public Schools for inviting public input as they begin their search for a new superintendent. Replacing an administrator as strong as John Allison won’t be an easy task, so it makes sense to seek the advice of business and community leaders as part of the process.

Chamber members are invited to take the five-minute survey, titled Wichita USD 259 Superintendent Characteristics. The survey is open until Thursday, January 19.

The Chamber recently created a special Education Policy Task Force that also speaks to the need for strong leadership when it comes to education in Kansas. Co-chairs Walter Berry (Berry Companies) and Lyndy Wells (INTRUST Bank, retired) are making the business community’s voice heard on issues like the new K-12 funding formula and the special needs of urban districts like Wichita and our surrounding area. The Task Force has given Kansas Governor Sam Brownback their input and is reaching out to legislative leaders who are working on the funding plan which will replace the block grant system that Kansas schools have been living with in recent years.

Our recent survey of the Chamber membership indicated that school funding is a primary concern of the business community. Chamber members are encouraged to continue sharing their thoughts with us about this issue. Please forward your comments to Toni Porter at tporter@wichitachamber.org.

We thank you for your continued input and support and hope you’ll join us as we highlight the important role of education and diversity in building our future workforce at our annual Chairman’s Lunch on Tuesday, February 7 at 11:30 a.m. A panel of public and private leaders will discuss their 2017 priorities and the importance of “Creating a Workforce for the Future through Diversity and Inclusion.”

Taking Pride in Wichita

In case you missed it, Dan Powers, Office Managing Partner for Grant Thornton LLP, contributed this letter to the editor that ran in the Wichita Eagle last Sunday.

There’s a great deal that makes me proud to be a Wichitan.  Nationally-recognized companies headquartered in our backyard. Being recognized as the Air Capital of the World. A thriving arts and cultural scene.

But I understand there’s room to improve in Wichita, similar to most cities.

Dan Powers, Office Managing Partner of Grant Thornton LLP, shared his thoughts about working and living in Wichita with Chairman's Lunch participants on Thursday, February 11.

Dan Powers, Office Managing Partner of Grant Thornton LLP, shared his thoughts about working and living in Wichita with Chairman’s Lunch participants on Thursday, February 11.

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s recent Chairman’s Lunch brought together city, county and chamber leadership to discuss the four challenges that most plague Wichita: business cycle, human capital, entrepreneurial and perception (Feb. 12 Eagle). While these challenges are complex, other communities have successfully tackled similar hurdles. I’m proud to report that our community’s leadership echoed that we, Wichita, will do the same.

But is it just up to our elected officials? To the businesses that promote Wichita as a place to live and work? No. It’s up to every single one of us. We’re already making great progress in each of these four areas, but are we communicating the activities already underway? Are we encouraging our peers to participate? Inspiring our neighbors to get involved?

I ask you to stand in support of Wichita – the great community we are today, and the better community we’ll be tomorrow. Acknowledge that while we have work to do, we plan to do it together. Elected officials, business leaders and citizens working side-by-side will help us regain speed on a positive, economically impactful route.

The challenges Wichita faces are significant and the consequences of failing to address them are profound. Nevertheless, events like the Chairman’s Lunch give me hope that, together, with a shared vision of the future, we’ll continue moving this great city forward.

Let’s go make and be Wichita Proud.

Follow these links for more information about the Feb. 11 Chairman’s Lunch.
Videos
Event Photos
Wichita Eagle article and video
Wichita Business Journal article and photos

Five panelists announced for Feb 11 Chairman’s Lunch

Barry at podium cropped

2016 Chamber Chairman Barry Schwan will host the annual Chairman’s Lunch on February 11.

The annual Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Lunch will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11 at INTRUST Bank Arena. A panel of five local leaders will dig deeper into Wichita’s four clear drivers of economic growth as presented during the first phase of the Focus Forward initiative.

Funded and managed by the Wichita Community Foundation, Focus Forward is a multi-year project focused on advancing the region’s future economic growth. James Chung, a Wichita native with Reach Advisors, recently presented his initial diagnosis about Wichita’s four most important growth challenges (business cycle, entrepreneurial, human capital and perception) to a number of Wichita audiences.

“Local business community leaders have been discussing Chung’s findings and are interested in learning more from elected officials about their thoughts on these same topics,” said Gary Plummer, President and CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. “This year’s program is an opportunity to demonstrate how the Chamber, the community’s local governing bodies, and other leading organizations are utilizing the information Chung shared with us to address the challenges he’s identified.”

The discussion, moderated by Plummer, will include the following panelists:

  • Barry Schwan, 2016 Chamber Chairman
  • Jeff Longwell, Mayor, City of Wichita
  • Bob Layton, Manager, City of Wichita
  • Jim Howell, Chairman, Sedgwick County Commission
  • Mike Scholes, Manager, Sedgwick County

This community event is open to the public. Tickets are $50 for chamber members, $60 for general admission, and $650 for a corporate table sponsorship (includes eight tickets and sponsorship benefits). Call Rachel Groene at 268-1127 or visit wichitachamber.org to purchase tickets.

Videos from Chairman’s Lunch available on YouTube

Last week at our Chairman’s Lunch, a panel of community leaders responded to questions raised during last fall’s Fuel the Fire Speaker Series. Almost 500 people were in attendance and heard that by 2020, millennials (those currently between the ages of in the 18 to 34) will comprise more than 50% of the American workforce. This statistic makes the need to attract and retain young, talented workers more urgent than ever before. In response to a question about how Wichita can be successful in those efforts, Young Professionals of Wichita Chair Laura Bernstorf said, “We have to be excited about our city before anyone else will be.”

Other topics covered included how to promote Wichita’s educated workforce and the need to continue to encourage people to seek college degrees. According to Fuel the Fire Speaker Carol Coletta, 58% of the success in a community can be explained by the percentage of college graduates in a population. “If anything determines 58% of your success, it ought to be a top priority.”

When asked about the importance of collaboration, Wichita State President Dr. John Bardo said, “We all have skin in the game in regards to building community collaboration to move Wichita forward.”

Attendees took to Twitter to add their comments during the event, and you can see those discussions using #chamberict. You can also see videos used during the Chairman’s Lunch event on our YouTube channel and photos from the event on our Facebook page.

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Panelists from left to right: Richard Ranzau, Chair, Sedgwick County Commission; Laura Bernstorf, Chair, Young Professionals of Wichita; Jon Rosell, Chair, Wichita Metro Chamber; Carl Brewer, Mayor, City of Wichita; Gary Schmitt, Chair, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition; Dr. John Bardo, President, Wichita State University

Chairman’s Lunch panelists announced

Our 2015 Chairman’s Lunch will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5 at INTRUST Bank Arena. A panel of community leaders and elected officials will answer questions raised during the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series and what those answers mean for Wichita.

“Last fall, three national speakers spent some time in Wichita offering their ideas on national trends that are affecting Wichita – our quality of life, our workforce, and how we can retain and attract jobs,” Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said. “They posed some great questions for the community to consider, and we thought we would benefit from hearing what some of our local leaders have to say about these same topics.”

The program will emphasize the importance of continued collaboration between our business community, governing bodies, and educational institutions in promoting Wichita’s best economic development differentiators—our educated and experienced workforce.

2015 Chamber Chair Jon Rosell

2015 Chamber Chair Jon Rosell

The discussion, moderated by Chamber Chair Jon Rosell, will include the following panelists:

  • Dr. John Bardo, President, Wichita State University
  • Laura Bernstorf, Chair, Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW)
  • Carl Brewer, Mayor, City of Wichita
  • Richard Ranzau, Chair, Sedgwick County Commission
  • Gary Schmitt, Chair, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC)

This community event is open to the public. Tickets are $50 for chamber members, $60 for general admission, and $650 for a corporate table sponsorship (includes eight tickets and sponsorship benefits). Call 268-1123 or visit wichitachamber.org to purchase tickets.

A Community Conversation about Jobs

Jon Rosell and Holly Landon will provide more information about the February 5 Chairman's Lunch on 99.7 LITE FM's Lite is Local program that airs at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 18.

Jon Rosell and Holly Landon discuss the February 5 Chairman’s Lunch on 99.7 LITE FM’s Lite is Local program that airs at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 18.

Join us for the annual Chairman’s Lunch at INTRUST Bank Arena on Thursday, February 5, as community leaders and elected officials discuss the most important economic development issues facing Wichita.

Tune into 99.7 LITE FM this Sunday at 8 a.m. to hear Jon Rosell (2015 Chamber Chairman) and Holly Landon (Manager of Business Services for the Chamber) provide more details about the event on Gayla Crouse’s weekly radio program, Lite is Local.

Corporate table sponsorships are still available. Follow this link to purchase tickets or a table for eight.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor for this event, Grant Thornton LLP.