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.
Event Photos
Wichita Eagle article and video
Wichita Business Journal article and photos

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.”

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.