Is Wichita Satisfied?

Gary Schmitt

Gary Schmitt

(reprint of guest editorial published in the Wichita Eagle May 18, 2014 by Gary Schmitt, chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition.)

Wichita’s economic recovery has been painfully slow. We’ve worked hard at finding ways to replace the 31,000 jobs that were lost during the recession, but the competition has been fierce among neighboring states and even other countries. And the valuable jobs that we’ve lost in the aviation industry aren’t easy ones to replace.

Are we satisfied with the pace of our current recovery? Or are we ready to consider some bolder game-changing moves that will vault us to the top of the list among communities known for being business-friendly? These are challenging questions, and we need your voice to be heard.

Wichita is blessed with a rich heritage of hardworking entrepreneurs who have changed the world with their innovative products and services. The best way to grow our economy is to make sure we take good care of the companies we have here today, and we need to be doing more to help all of our small businesses that sell products and services outside of our community experience accelerated growth.

Growing “our own” also helps make our region even more attractive to companies outside of our state that may be thinking about relocating. It sends a strong message that this is exactly the kind of place where both your company and family can thrive.

Realizing we need to work a lot harder, community leaders have been asking the question: “How competitive do we want to be?” This simple question has initiated a cascade of passionate discussion.

We think the timing is right for the community to provide more input into the conversation, too. We need to talk about how many more jobs could be created if we have more competitive financial incentive packages for businesses that sell goods and services outside the community bringing in new dollars. Perhaps more important, it’s also time to discuss what happens if we don’t develop new tools to help our businesses grow new jobs.

Private-sector volunteer leaders believe our community needs to have all the right tools to be competitive. Financial incentives are one of the many tools our national and international competitors use to grow their local economies, and if we are to be competitive, we need to follow suit. There’s no indication the competition is going to reduce or eliminate their use of incentives in the future, which is forcing us to increase our efforts.

Financial incentives are used by companies to reduce operating costs at one location versus another. They can be used in a variety of ways to aid business growth, including workforce training and building permanent taxable assets that, in turn, keep everyone’s taxes lower.

So let the discussions begin, and as a community we can come to the right decision. It’s a complex issue and there aren’t any simple answers. That’s why we need the open conversation about all the ways to help our businesses expand and employ more people.

Are we satisfied with our status quo? Help us identify our community’s solutions to this issue by reviewing the plan and offering your suggestions at communications@wichitachamber.org.

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.

Conclusion
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.

Introduction
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

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book-cover-jobs-war
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

 

GLOBAL INSIGHT. LOCAL ACTION.

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.