Leadership Wichita Graduates are Community Game Changers

Clark Bastian is the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Bank.

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2017 Leadership Wichita program are underway. We’ve asked some area decision makers to weigh in on the benefits of the Leadership Wichita program. This blog post is by Clark Bastian, Fidelity Bank Chairman and CEO.

There are a number of ways you can increase your organization’s visibility and viability. One proven method is to provide your best and brightest employees with new learning experiences and opportunities to connect with their peers. Investing in their growth provides your organization with knowledgeable and respected ambassadors. And retaining the most engaged members of our workforce can change the course of a community.

Leadership Wichita is a highly successful Chamber program designed to inform, connect and inspire active community leaders. It’s an immersive experience that identifies 30 local achievers and then provides them with the tools they need to take increasingly significant roles in the community.

Top area leaders present and interact with the class over the course of nine intensive sessions. They willingly invest their time in the program every year because they see the results. Leadership Wichita graduates can be found leading game-changing initiatives for their companies and their communities.

The nomination process is easy.

  • Look for potential nominees in your own company, professional organizations, and places where you volunteer. Target those who want to make more meaningful contributions to the success of their employers, the business community and the region.
  • Spend two minutes on the Chamber’s website nominating them for Leadership Wichita.

We owe it to the future champions of our region, companies and organizations to equip them with the best possible understanding of the progress being made in our community as well as the challenging areas where we need their talent and energy. Mentoring the next generation of leaders is critical. It clearly demonstrates our confidence in their future contributions and our desire to make them an integral part of our community’s advancement.

Leadership Wichita is a program of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and Wichita Educational Foundation. Nominations are due Friday, June 2.

Leadership Wichita – A Powerful Community Investment

Claudio J. Ferraro is the President of Via Christi Hospital Wichita St. Teresa, Inc.

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2017 Leadership Wichita program are underway. We’ve asked some area decision makers to weigh in on the benefits of the Leadership Wichita program. This blog post is by Claudio Ferraro, President, Via Christi Hospital Wichita St. Teresa, Inc.

Every day we assess the return on investment (ROI) for many aspects of our business, from equipment purchases to employee training. Most employees already have the technical training needed to do their jobs. And many companies offer internal leadership training for those who have demonstrated an aptitude for taking on more responsibility. So why should a local company or organization nominate candidates for Leadership Wichita and invest in that program?

The true value of Leadership Wichita goes beyond refining skills. It’s an opportunity to forge relationships with people across other industries and understand their perspectives. It’s the formation of long-lasting partnerships that strengthen and advance our businesses and organizations. Ultimately, it’s laying an important foundation for the future of our business community and the economic health of our region.

I think it’s quite possible that my own career might have taken a different trajectory if I hadn’t participated in the Leadership Wichita program in 2000. So many of my classmates from that program are now playing important senior leadership roles throughout the community. Michael Grier is the President and CEO at Martin Eby Construction. Debbie Gann is the Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at Spirit AeroSystems and was part of the leadership team that led them through their transition from a Boeing facility to Spirit AeroSystems. She was also the 2013 Chair of the Chamber. Richard McCafferty is an owner/officer at Key Construction. The list goes on and on. We share a common bond from our Leadership Wichita experience and I still interact with them in my role at Via Christi.

So when I nominate someone for this program, I’m looking for a candidate who is perceptive enough to understand that they will be doing much more than honing their own leadership skills. They will be learning about the dynamics of the region and building interpersonal connections with people who will eventually become key community leaders and contributors.

The nomination process is easy.

  •  Look for potential nominees in your own company, professional organizations, and places where you volunteer. Target those who want to make more meaningful contributions to the success of their employers, the business community and the region.
  • Spend two minutes on the Chamber’s website nominating them for Leadership Wichita.

The earlier we can identify our future decision makers and help them build relationships with each other, the more quickly we can achieve the maximum return on our investment with better results for our organizations, businesses and community.

Leadership Wichita is a program of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and Wichita Educational Foundation. Nominations are due Friday, June 2.

Wayne Chambers: Champion of collaboration and alignment

By Jon Rosell, 2015 Chamber Chair

Jon Rosell and Wayne Chambers at the 2014 Annual Meeting

Jon Rosell and Wayne Chambers at the 2014 Annual Meeting

2014 Chamber Chair Wayne Chambers closed our December Board meeting with some eloquent remarks. He defined his 12-month term as a “privilege to serve” and “a special opportunity to do something that makes you proud.”

At the outset of his tenure, Wayne stated that his primary goal was to encourage increased collaboration and alignment among community organizations. That happened in a myriad of new ways in 2014, including these successful efforts:

  • The Chamber’s Leadership Council collaborated with the Wichita Community Foundation and the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation to initiate a Fuel the Fire speaker series.
  • The Chamber partnered with other business groups (Wichita Independent Business Association, the Society for Human Resource Management and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce) to reduce the cost of unemployment insurance and to make the state’s unemployment insurance (U.I.) program more flexible for employers.
  • The Chamber collaborated with 18 other “Yea-sayer” organizations interested in shaping the community’s future by endorsing a proposed sales tax initiative. A “yes” vote was also endorsed by both The Wichita Eagle and The Wichita Business Journal as a way to advance the community. The effort aligned some of these groups on a single community issue for the very first time.
  • The Chamber worked with Go Wichita and other local organizations on a community branding initiative.

Wayne also worked with Chamber CEO Gary Plummer and other Chamber members to secure sponsorships for an internationally-known speaker for the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. Our December 4 event featuring Dr. Condoleezza Rice attracted 3,000 people who gathered to hear her insightful remarks about the power of education to ensure social equality and democracy.

All of these efforts drew people together and elevated the conversation about charting Wichita’s future. As we build on these activities in 2015, I want to thank Wayne for his leadership and devotion to this community. He’s brought many organizations together to take ownership in defining the future of Wichita and I look forward to working with each of you in new ways to advance our community in meaningful and measurable ways this coming year.

Chamber and partners to work on community issues

There’s no getting around the fact that we’re disappointed with the results of the sales tax election on November 4 in Wichita.  I believe we missed an opportunity to move Wichita forward.

But the sun did come up on November 5 and there is still a need to make a difference in our hometown.  We still need to accelerate our community’s competitiveness and we appreciate how the process has raised awareness about jobs and economic development.

In addition, this community should continue to address water, transit and street repairs.  Addressing these community needs will take positive ideas from all citizens and we encourage you to continue sharing your ideas with members of the City Council.

Now is not the time to stop discussing solutions to the challenges that face us.  The community belongs to all of us and sales tax proponents and opponents must be included in the ongoing conversation surrounding these challenges.

One of the many positive byproducts of the recent campaign was the number of diverse groups that came together to form a broad coalition for community advancement. We need to ensure the coalition and additional partners continue to work together to improve our community.

As for the Chamber and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, we still have a job to do in growing our economyWe have an outstanding staff at GWEDC and we’re proud of the work they’ve done the past 11 years to retain or create more than 20,000 jobs in our region.  That team, working closely with local government and other partners, will continue to help existing and new companies create jobs.  We will also work with Wichita State University and other partners, through the Blueprint for Regional Economic Growth, to identify opportunities to diversify our regional economy.

I want to thank our elected officials for giving the opportunity to vote on this issue.  I also applaud the Chamber Board of Directors and Leadership Council for their courage in leading a community discussion of the issues we face and the options for resolving them.

The Yes Wichita campaign did a tremendous job of running a civil campaign with honor and integrity that was full of positive energy and effort.  We want to commend the campaign leadership and all of the volunteers who worked so hard on moving the community forward.  We appreciate the passion and funds they contributed to this important cause.

Let’s all continue this important work!

Is Wichita open for business?

Wayne Chambers

Wayne Chambers

By Wayne Chambers
2014 Chamber Board Chairman
President, High Touch Technologies

Fifty community leaders recently participated in the Chamber’s city-to-city visit to Austin, Texas, and some very familiar themes emerged from our visit with Austin leadership.

They’re the same themes that we heard from Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, when he spoke at the Chamber’s annual meeting last year. And they were repeated by respected demographer James Chung when he made his Fuel the Fire presentation to the community on Sept. 17.

Jumpstarting Wichita’s economy requires focusing on three important things:

• community alignment and partnerships
• an educated workforce
• activation – an understanding that no one else will do this for us

It’s obvious that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand of the market” won’t fix our local economy. We must take different actions if we expect different results. Mr. Chung put it even more succinctly: “Wichita must decide now whether to stagnate or innovate.”

Shaping a more positive future requires investments in a long-term water plan, street maintenance, transit, and a proactive jobs plan. Let’s not miss the opportunity to say YES to these investments and vote YES on Nov. 4 for the city sales tax. We’ll be sending the right message to the workforce and businesses that we’re trying to grow and attract. “Wichita is open for business.”

Are local nonprofits supporting the sales tax?

Michael Monteferrante is a the President and CEO of Envision, Inc. and a member of the 2014 Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Michael Monteferrante is a the President and CEO of Envision, Inc. and a member of the 2014 Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors recently announced their support of the 1 percent sales tax referendum. Wichitans will vote on this issue on November 4. During the next few months Chamber members will utilize the blog to provide commentary and answer questions about the sales tax. Today’s question is answered by Chamber Board member Michael Monteferrante.

Yes. The Nonprofit Chamber of Services (NPCS) has announced support of the sales tax. NPCS works with 175 area nonprofits and not-for-profits in the community and is one of seven local organizations who believe the additional funding will move Wichita forward:

  • Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • IBEW L.U. 271 Electrical Workers
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 441
  • The Nonprofit Chamber of Service
  • Wichita Downtown Development Corporation
  • Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Young Professionals of Wichita

“The proposed sales tax is crucial to growing our city. To vote ‘yes’ is to vote for growth and evolution. To vote ‘no’ is to vote for stagnation. We must choose to invest in our community,” said Michael Monteferrante, President and CEO of Envision, Inc., Yes Wichita co-chair and NPCS board member.

Monteferrante added, “A crucial component of the initiative is the transit expansion. Our transit system provides two million annual rides to jobs, shopping and medical appointments but could do so much more. Voting ‘Yes’ to this initiative will allow service improvements including the addition of extended transit hours. A robust public transportation system is essential to a healthy community.”

The Nonprofit Chamber of Service exists to support 175 area nonprofits and not-for-profits through training for staff and volunteers and representation of nonprofit interests to the community and government at all levels.

Please visit the City of Wichita website to learn more about the proposed sales tax and to read the plans for water, roads, transportation and jobs. 
Visit the Yes Wichita website to see who is supporting the sales tax and to learn about upcoming events.

Are more organizations supporting the proposed sales tax?

The Chamber’s Board of Directors recently announced their support of the 1 percent sales tax referendum. Wichitans will vote on this issue on November 4. During the next few months Chamber members will utilize the blog to provide commentary and answer questions about the sales tax. Today’s question is answered by Richard Taylor, a member of the Chamber’s Leadership Council.

Yes. The leadership of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 441, is now supporting the 1 percent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot. The Union joins the Young Professionals of Wichita, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in supporting the sales tax.

Richard Taylor is a member of the Chamber's Leadership Council and the Business Manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 441.

Richard Taylor is a member of the Chamber’s Leadership Council and the Business Manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 441.

Richard Taylor is a member of the Chamber’s Leadership Council and serves as the Business Manager for the organization. Taylor says the union believes every aspect of the initiative is important to Wichita. “We back these efforts to bring jobs to this community and create employment opportunities for the building trades. We’ve reviewed the jobs plan and we are very supportive of the workforce training component. The Wichita economy benefits from a skilled and experienced workforce. We also believe that stable and predictable water rates, improved bus service, and road maintenance are solid investments in our community’s growth.”

Please visit the City of Wichita website for more specific information about the sales tax referendum.

#ICT2Austin

Tami Bradley of Bothner & Bradley visits with Bill Roy of the Wichita Business Journal during an orientation session for the city-to-city visit

Tami Bradley of Bothner & Bradley visits with Bill Roy of the Wichita Business Journal during an orientation session for the city-to-city visit

The Chamber’s 2014 City-to-City trip takes place this week and 50 participants are visiting one of American’s fastest-growing cities, Austin, Texas. The Austin metro area doubled in size between 1990 and 2010, and now hosts 4,000 technology companies. Reports indicate that 110 people move to Austin on an average day.

The Chamber’s City-to-City delegates have ten sessions scheduled over a two-day period with Austin leaders to learn more about how they super-charged the city’s growth plan. Trip participants will also learn more about Austin’s successful talent attraction and retention efforts.

Suzie Ahlstrand, Executive Vice President of Community Development for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce reports that many of this year’s participants are young professionals from Wichita. “Austin is a strong magnet for young professionals and we’re looking forward to learning more from their leadership. It’s imperative that our own young professionals become more involved in advancing the community, so we’re delighted that so many of them are participating. We need their ideas and energy to propel Wichita to the next level so we can retain the talent that’s been grown and nurtured here.”

The Chamber started sponsoring City-to-City visits annually in 2006, as a way to learn best practices from communities that have revitalized their downtown areas, successfully grown their own local companies, and attracted new talent. The purpose of each trip is to align, mobilize, and advance Wichita.

The group will be using #ICT2Austin to post comments and photos.

Should Wichita support startup companies?

By Phyllis Robertson

The answer is an absolute and unequivocal yes!  Entrepreneurism is a critical catalyst for the economy.  Studies show that startups account for about 70% of job creation globally, and in some markets, that figure grows as high as 90%.  Startups that use technology more effectively create, on average, twice as many jobs and are more productive and profitable than companies who don’t.

Furthermore, the shrinking lifecycle of many products and services due to advancement in technologies, and job displacement from automation mean that the creation of new industry sectors and products is essential.  For example, the printing industry is projected to lose 16% of its jobs by 2018, while motor vehicle parts manufacturing’s projected loss is almost 19%.  Even more extreme is semiconductor manufacturing which forecasts losing 33% of the jobs it had in 2008.

If we want Wichita to thrive and grow, then encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs is vital.  Startup Weekend Wichita is a creative way to do just that.  It provides an energizing environment for collaboration, exploration, and ideation.  It centers on technology – an essential sector for our future.  It’s an opportunity for entrepreneurs and other business professionals to work together on new ideas that just might generate a huge win.  At a minimum, it continues the conversations and momentum from last month’s ICT Unconference on strengthening our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

There are numerous ways the community can support the incredible entrepreneurial talent we have.  Get started and take advantage of the immediate opportunity to participate in Startup Weekend Wichita!

Phyllis Robertson
Vice President of Business Services
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

GWEDC Shares Mission at Cessna Supplier Forum

Debra Teufel

Debra Teufel

By Debra Teufel

This week GWEDC had the honor of being a presenting sponsor at the Cessna Supplier Forum.  This event attended by over 400 in the aviation industry, gave us the opportunity to showcase our Greater Wichita message to an audience of local suppliers, as well companies from around the globe.  What a perfect opportunity to share our economic development mission – marketing our region, providing a service to local business & industry, and sharing the Wichita business case to companies who we hope will consider a future location here in our great community.  

We highlighted the top factors that make Wichita a winning combination and keep us on top as the #1 U.S. Metro for Aviation Manufacturing – Labor Costs, Transportation Accessibility, Tax Climate, Energy Costs, Availability of Skilled Labor, Quality of Training, Research & Development, Construction Costs and Affordability of Real Estate, and finally the tools and resources at the State and local level for companies seeking a competitive location.  The audience had the first opportunity to see GWEDC’s newest Air Capital of the World video (coming soon!) – a collection of images showing how Wichitans built the “business of flight”.  

It was an honor to be a part of such a quality event, and to hear about the exciting new developments from the Cessna team.  We heard about the importance of partnerships, productivity, quality, speed to market, branding & promotion, innovation, winning together – all of the elements that our Wichita companies know well.  It made me proud to be a part of their day.  Thank you to Cessna for allowing us to share our message with your audience, as we work together to help our economy reach new heights. 

Debra Teufel
Vice President, Business Development
Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition