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.

Do the young professionals in Wichita support the sales tax initiative?

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 Suzy Finn, the Executive Director of the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). 

Suzy Finn is the Executive Director of the Young Professionals of Wichita.

Suzy Finn is the Executive Director of the Young Professionals of Wichita.

Yes. The Young Professionals of Wichita Board of Trustees voted this week to support the proposed 1 percent sales tax referendum that City of Wichita residents will vote on during the November 4 general election.

The Board supports this referendum because it believes this sales tax will be a tool to help the organization accomplish its mission to attract, engage, and retain diverse young talent to effect positive change for a brighter future. In particular, the needs for more, diverse job options and a strong public transit system have previously been identified as keys to accomplishing the YPW mission.

“Our Board feels that maintaining the status quo in Wichita is not enough to encourage economic growth and attract the Millennial generation,” said YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn. “Wichita continues to lose young professionals while other vibrant cities in the region are gaining them. The first step in changing that trend is to ensure that we have plentiful and diverse jobs available for a highly educated workforce. A yes vote on this referendum represents a plan to kick-start growth in that area.”

Prior to voting, YPW hosted a Pro/Con Forum about the sales tax referendum that featured speakers from the supporting and opposing sides of the issue to inform the general membership and allow all Board members the opportunity to become educated about the issues prior to taking a vote.

“This is the first time our organization has taken an official position on an issue before the community for a vote,” said Finn. “It was reiterated during our city-to-city trip to Austin that you have to have a strong economic base to fund quality of life issues. We believe that if we support development of the basics needed for economic growth now, continued improvements in the quality of life areas that are important to young professionals will follow.”

Prior to voting on the issue, the YPW Board hosted a Pro/Con Forum about the sales tax referendum that featured speakers from the supporting and opposing sides of the issue.  A recording from this event is available on the YPW website at this link.

FAQs About Jobs, Getting Involved

Our Frequently Asked Questions series continues this week with information about job and internship opportunities, as well as how members can become more involved with the Chamber.

Jobs and Internships Questions

  1. How do I post job openings on NationJob?
    Posting job openings on NationJob is a FREE benefit to Chamber members with 30 or less employees, and discounts are available to Members with more than 30 FTE. Contact Barb Avery directly at NationJob at 888-256-0920.
  2. How do I get more information about the Spouse Career Network?
    Contact Jan Baggett at 316-268-1113.
  3. I am interested in hiring an intern. Where do I get more information on how to find a qualified intern or post an internship listing?

Involvement Questions

  1. How can I get more information on Committees or Volunteer Opportunities?
    Contact Nicole Robinson at 316-268-1116.
  2. How can I join a leads group?
    Visit our Contacts Club page.
  3. Where do I get more information on advertising opportunities with the Chamber?
    Visit our Sponsorships and Advertising page, then contact Courtney Sendall 316-268-1153.
  4. Do I have to be a Chamber member to join Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW)?
    Visit our Young Professionals of Wichita page.

More Frequently Asked Questions can be found on our website. If you have a question that should be added to our FAQ page, please let us know!

Update to Jobs Plan Available

Several of our blog postings in May included a link to an 18-page Jobs Plan about accelerating the community’s competitiveness for primary jobs. Input from the community, business leaders, and the City Council has recently been incorporated into the document and it has been expanded to 21 pages.

The updated version of the report is dated June 17, and it is available at this link. Please take the time to review the plan and share your comments at one of the upcoming public discussions about this initiative that are listed in our June 17 posting, on the Active Wichita website, or through this email address:

Your Input Sought on Proposed Sales Tax, 2015 City Budget

“Building a Better Future” sets stage for community conversations

Wichita City Council members are hosting a series of community meetings starting this week so residents can provide input on a proposed sales tax and the City’s 2015 Proposed Budget. We encourage Chamber members and other area residents to actively participate in these discussions.

Six meetings are scheduled so residents can help shape the city’s future and identify key priorities for 2015 and beyond. The open-house style meetings, part of an initiative called “Building a Better Future,” will include a presentation and feedback session on the proposed city sales tax that would fund key community priorities related to:

  • Water supply;
  • Jobs initiative;
  • Public Transit;
  • And pavement maintenance.

Attendees will hear an overview about the sales tax, visit information stations and discuss specific plans for each community priority. They can ask questions and submit ideas in writing at the meeting or online at Activate Wichita. These meetings will explain:

  • How the priorities were determined;
  • The impact on residents and the overall community;
  • And why now is the time to make decisions about basic services needed to keep the city viable and competitive.

All meetings start at 6:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • June 17 – District V – (represented by Jeff Longwell) Avita Senior Living at Rolling Hills, 629 S. Maize
  • June 18 – District VI – (represented by Janet Miller) Evergreen Recreation Center, 2700 N. Woodland
  • June 23 – District I  – (represented by Lavonta Williams) Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas, 2400 N. Opportunity Dr.
  • June 24 – District IV – (represented by Jeff Blubaugh) Osage Recreation Center, 2121 W. 31st St. South
  • June 26 – District II – (represented by Pete Meitzner) Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 1958 N. Webb Rd.
  • June 30 – District III – (represented by James Clendenin) WATER Center, 101 E. Pawnee St.

Handouts with more information about these important topics will be distributed at the meetings.

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

We’re seeking your input on jobs plan

Wayne Chambers, 2014 Board Chairman

Wayne Chambers

(reprint of guest editorial published in the Wichita Business Journal May 16, 2014)

Wichita and surrounding communities lost one in ten jobs during the recent recession. This does not include the full impact of Boeing leaving and the recent merger of Beechcraft and Cessna.

The fact is we are struggling as a community to regain a vibrant economy.  This is in sharp contrast to those of our neighboring Midwest cities that are experiencing a more significant economic recovery.

There have been a number of surveys and community meetings recently and those who participated seem to agree that we need to restore the economy by growing jobs and getting serious about diversifying our economy.  There is a sense of urgency. The difficult question is “What makes the most sense to do and how do we do that?”

As Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Leadership Council, I have learned there are no simple solutions to creating jobs and it takes time.  All communities engage in this somewhat complex process and it entails a number of steps that include community conversation.  I’m glad the community conversation has started in our community.

Let me offer a few thoughts to help you start in your conversations:

  • Be a part of the discussion rather than an observer on the sidelines. We need your thoughts to craft a long-term solution to move our economy along at a faster pace.
  • Learn what other communities are doing to support jobs and grow their economies.
  • Our  community must have several plans to grow different types of jobs. One plan likely does not fit all needs. To be successful, we need a number of different tools in our tool box.
  • We must get better and faster at growing our  critically important Wichita-area based  companies. We are an entrepreneurial community, and we need to revive that spirit, nurture the local entrepreneur, and then keep them here.
  • We need to be competitive in creating primary jobs because they create other jobs.  Primary jobs are those jobs that sell goods and services outside the community and return the dollars back to this community.

There is a proposal being considered within the community to create a $90 million ‘jobs fund’ that would allow us to be more competitive with other communities. That proposal has a number of features that should be discussed. I hope you will take time to review it here and provide input to this proposal.

All in all, the creation of jobs and revitalization of the local economy is a complex issue and requires a good amount of discussion. Be a part of the discussion and offer your suggestions at

National Small Business Week: May 12-16

SmallBusinessStickerEach year since 1963, the U.S. President has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. This year, that week falls on May 12-16.

Small Business Week helps us make a conscious effort to stop and thank the small businesses in our communities for everything they do. For example:

  • More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business.
  • They create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.
  • Small businesses (defined by the Chamber as fewer than 100 employees) account for 88% of our membership base.
  • More than 44% of Chamber member businesses have fewer than 10 employees.

We know that being an entrepreneur and/or small business owner is not easy. It is often filled with long days, small paychecks, and few “thank yous.” But we want you to know that we appreciate you. Our community and country would not be what it is without your dedication and hard work.

So whether you run a restaurant, a salon, a tech start-up, or any of the countless other small businesses, we thank you and we love you! Happy Small Business Week!


Jobs Fund Proposal initiates needed community discussion

Several City Council members expressed their appreciation yesterday for the work that has been done to prepare the Jobs Fund Plan titled, Will Wichita Accelerate Competition for Primary Jobs? Time for a Community Discussion. The Plan was presented to the Wichita City Council during a workshop session by Gary Schmitt, the Chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC).

City Council members posed some thoughtful questions following the presentation. Council Members Jeff Blubaugh (representing District 4) and James Clendenin (representing District 3), wanted to know more about the source of funding for the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and how it has been used to attract businesses to that state. According to the Texas Governor’s web site, TEF is the “largest deal-closing fund of its kind in the nation.” The TEF is an example of the accelerated competition Wichita faces for keeping and growing our own local companies as well as attracting new businesses to the community, but there are many other examples closer to home. As Gary Schmitt pointed out, this proposed Jobs Fund is about making us more competitive with other cities, states, and countries.

City Council member Janet Miller (representing District 6), expressed her hope that the community would provide feedback to the plan, so that the Council would have a clearer idea about what the public thinks about the issue. We agree. The purpose of the proposal was to initiate more community-wide conversation about the importance of growing jobs in our community. One of Gary Schmitt’s closing remarks during his presentation included Wichita State University Basketball Coach Gregg Marshall’s mantra, “Ask yourself, are you satisfied?”

Are we satisfied with our community’s slow recovery from the loss of 31,000 jobs in recent years?  We all have family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors who have been affected by these jobs losses. If we are not satisfied, then we need to decide how we are going to change our course. Community leaders are interested in hearing from you about your reaction to the proposal and how high you rank job growth among the many important issues the community’s leadership is currently reviewing. Please share your comments at this email address:

As noted in an earlier posting, the Plan is a working document that will likely change with input from the community, business leaders, and the City Council. The current edition is available at this link.

Will Wichita Accelerate Competition for Primary Jobs?

Gary Schmitt

Gary Schmitt

Gary Schmitt, Chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC), will present a Jobs Fund Plan to members of the Wichita City Council during a workshop held later this morning. The workshop takes place following the Council’s regular meeting.

You can follow this link to the May 2 edition of the Jobs Fund Plan that will be presented. The Plan, titled, Will Wichita Accelerate Competition for Primary Jobs?, was developed by leadership across the community to initiate a discussion about the importance of increasing Wichita’s competitiveness and funding stronger economic development tools. Please keep in mind that this is a working document and subject to input from the community, business leaders and the City Council.

We look forward to the important community discussion that will be generated by answering this important question.