Chamber Invests Resources in Project Wichita

by Bill Wood, 2018 Chamber Chairman and Partner at Foulston Siefkin LLP

The formation of a new community vision process, Project Wichita, was announced at the Chamber’s Chairman’s Luncheon on February 1. Since that time the organizers have received financial commitments from more than 60 area organizations and businesses interested in ensuring the success of this new initiative.

Bill Wood leads the Chamber Board as Chairman in 2018.

The Chamber’s participation in Project Wichita includes a financial pledge as well as a commitment to set up focus groups and encourage participation in the process. I’m pleased to be one of three official representatives of the Chamber who are members of the Project Wichita Visioning Team. Jonathan Long, the Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement, joins me on the leadership team as does Hutton Construction CEO and Chamber Board member Ben Hutton. Long is also undertaking facilitator training for Project Wichita focus groups.

Debbie Gann, Vice President Communications & Public Affairs for Spirit AeroSystems, and Scott Schwindaman, President and CEO of Lubrication Engineers, are two of the four Project Wichita co-chairs. Both have recently led our Board of Directors and both continue to be involved in advancing the community. The other two co-chairs also represent Chamber members. Juston White is the Executive Director at Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, and Aaron Bastian is President at Fidelity Bank.

Listening sessions and surveys will take place through the middle of the year and I have a very specific call to action for each of you. Please participate in a Project Wichita focus group, community event or a survey to identify the issues that are most critical for community success, and please fully engage in the process and ensure that others do the same.
I’m pleased to share with you that the Chamber is diligently working to host several Project Wichita focus groups using the digital toolkit developed by Project Wichita.

Investor Engagement – We’re hosting a focus group on April 19 for input from a joint meeting of our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors. Representatives from the Boards of YPW, Wichita Hispanic Chamber, Heartland Black Chamber and our Small Business Committee will also participate.

Small Business Committee – In addition to participating in the April 19 event, our Small Business Committee will meet on April 25th to develop a plan to solicit more input specifically from small businesses in the region.

Past Chairs – Past Chairmen and Chairwomen of the Chamber will gather on May 1 for a focus group so that we can solicit their unique perspective on Project Wichita discussion questions.

Diversity & Inclusion – Participants from last year’s Diversity & Inclusion listening tour will be invited to a focus group on May 14 and then encouraged to host focus groups with those within their own networks.

Regional Partners РThe Chamber is leading a focus group on May 16 in Newton for input from  representatives of area Chambers and Economic Development groups.

Leadership Wichita Alumni – A date for an alumni focus group is being targeted and Leadership Wichita is also working with USD 259 to train high school students as facilitators for classroom focus group sessions.

YPW – Our affiliate, the Young Professionals of Wichita, will host three focus group sessions. Two will be scheduled on area college campuses to ensure participation at the collegiate level.

I look forward to sharing more information with you about this important visioning process as the year progresses.