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.”

Chamber’s speaker, Jim Clifton, provides inspiration for Junior Achievement

It was my pleasure to attend the annual Junior Achievement (JA) Wichita Business Hall of Fame event that took place on March 11 at the Hyatt. JA inducted three well-known Wichita business leaders to the Hall of Fame and you can read more about them by following these links.

All three of these leaders have served on the Chamber’s Board of Directors. Both Sheryl and Ann also served as Chairman of the Board for the Chamber.  Sheryl served in 2003 and Ann led the Chamber in 2005.

It was very gratifying to see all three of them recognized for their dedication to their companies and employees as well as the many volunteer hours they have devoted to our community. They’ve strongly influenced and shaped our community.

Martha Linsner is the Chairman of Junior Achievement’s Advisory Board and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

Martha Linsner is the Chairman of Junior Achievement’s Advisory Board and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

Martha Linsner, President of The Trust Company of Kansas and Chairman of Junior Achievement’s Advisory Board, is also a Chamber Board Member. Martha spent a few minutes during the event acknowledging the winners and talking about Junior Achievement’s mission. Her message was so impressive that I wanted to share it with our entire membership. Martha has graciously provided us with a copy of a portion of her remarks.

JA’s local Advisory Board is dedicated to making Junior Achievement the best non-profit organization in Wichita! They lead by example with financial support and volunteer commitments. They were inspired to continue their efforts last fall when hearing and/or reading comments in our local media from the Wichita Chamber’s annual meeting speaker Jim Clifton, CEO and Chairman of Gallup. Mr. Clifton spelled out in detail how he visualized an international system for promoting entrepreneurship. To quote Mr. Clifton, “It   would   start   early, in the middle schools, where   students   would   be tested   and   those   found   to   have   the   entrepreneurial   personality would   be   channeled   not   into   an   academic  track   but   into   a   business   track.

Stop   demanding   that   every   student   master  every   skill,   but   focus   on   building   students’   strengths”. Let me repeat that last part…focus on building students’ strengths. (I encourage everyone to read’s Mr. Clifton’s 2011 book, “The Coming Jobs War”.)

JA’s Advisory Board listened and took action by setting a board goal to expand JA to more grade levels beyond elementary.  2014 is JA’s first year at Coleman Middle School! We want to do all we can to have program success at Coleman so the teachers want to continue next year.

It’s encouraging that Mr. Clifton’s message was so well received and that it continues to pay dividends for this community. One of the ideas that Mr. Clifton strongly supports is that winning the jobs war requires that the leadership throughout the community is aligned, focused, and working out of the same playbook. The leadership at Junior Achievement has clearly demonstrated their dedication to “winning the jobs war” by helping students develop business skills and focusing on their current strengths. The work of Junior Achievement continues to ensure the success of our entire community by developing new business leaders.

On behalf of all of our Chamber members, I’d like to thank Martha, Sheryl, Jim, Ann and all the JA volunteers who work so hard throughout the year to make Wichita a great place to live and work.

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

The Coming Jobs War – Book Review


Jim Clifton’s book, The Coming Jobs War, initially came to my attention when some of my Chamber colleagues around the country started discussing his research and approach to job creation. His message was resonating with communities that understood that winning the jobs war meant more than merely maintaining the economic development status quo.

Chapter Six appears about a third of the way through the book and it made the greatest impression on me when I had a chance to read through my copy of the book. The chapter stressed that the next economic development breakthrough will be “from the combination of the forces within big cities, great universities, and powerful local leaders.”

Wichita has all the right components for winning the job war. We have a unique entrepreneurial spirit. And we have dedicated visionaries who lead our local government, universities, companies, and non-profit organizations. After discussing the merits of Clifton’s book, our Chamber Board of Directors felt that his emphasis on local solutions and fostering entrepreneurship was the right fit for advancing our community.

The Chamber distributed more than 300 copies of the book to the media, elected officials, and local leaders during the 20012-13 Business at Full Throttle campaign to increase our economic development funding. Many of those who read the book were inspired to become investors and we were able to exceed our original goal and raise over $9 million.

Clifton advises that “your whole city wage a war for jobs. Everybody in charge of everything needs to focus on job creation.” Hearing Mr. Clifton to speak at our Annual Meeting on November 5, will  continue the momentum of our Business at Full Throttle campaign and help align our efforts citywide.

I hope that you’ll take the time to read Mr. Clifton’s book and join us to hear him speak about ways we can advance our community.  Follow this link for event and ticket information.

Gary Plummer
President & CEO
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce



The op ed piece in the September 29 edition of The Wichita Eagle, Local action needed in global jobs war, by Wichita Metro Chamber Chair Debbie Gann, couldn’t have been timelier. The front-page story of the same edition, Layoffs leave Wichita with a smaller workforce, was another sobering reminder that our friends, family, and neighbors have been suffering from job losses.

It is critical to maintain the jobs that we currently have in the metro area and develop a culture that fosters innovation and creates new jobs. The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce is inviting community leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, volunteers, educators, elected officials, and business leaders to become more engaged in developing a local battle plan for addressing this issue.

Attending the Chamber’s Annual Meeting on November 5 is a great place to start. The featured speaker, Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton, will share his insights into how we can jumpstart job creation in Wichita.  Printed invitations are being mailed this week or you can register here for the event.