Wayne Chambers: Champion of collaboration and alignment

By Jon Rosell, 2015 Chamber Chair

Jon Rosell and Wayne Chambers at the 2014 Annual Meeting

Jon Rosell and Wayne Chambers at the 2014 Annual Meeting

2014 Chamber Chair Wayne Chambers closed our December Board meeting with some eloquent remarks. He defined his 12-month term as a “privilege to serve” and “a special opportunity to do something that makes you proud.”

At the outset of his tenure, Wayne stated that his primary goal was to encourage increased collaboration and alignment among community organizations. That happened in a myriad of new ways in 2014, including these successful efforts:

  • The Chamber’s Leadership Council collaborated with the Wichita Community Foundation and the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation to initiate a Fuel the Fire speaker series.
  • The Chamber partnered with other business groups (Wichita Independent Business Association, the Society for Human Resource Management and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce) to reduce the cost of unemployment insurance and to make the state’s unemployment insurance (U.I.) program more flexible for employers.
  • The Chamber collaborated with 18 other “Yea-sayer” organizations interested in shaping the community’s future by endorsing a proposed sales tax initiative. A “yes” vote was also endorsed by both The Wichita Eagle and The Wichita Business Journal as a way to advance the community. The effort aligned some of these groups on a single community issue for the very first time.
  • The Chamber worked with Go Wichita and other local organizations on a community branding initiative.

Wayne also worked with Chamber CEO Gary Plummer and other Chamber members to secure sponsorships for an internationally-known speaker for the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. Our December 4 event featuring Dr. Condoleezza Rice attracted 3,000 people who gathered to hear her insightful remarks about the power of education to ensure social equality and democracy.

All of these efforts drew people together and elevated the conversation about charting Wichita’s future. As we build on these activities in 2015, I want to thank Wayne for his leadership and devotion to this community. He’s brought many organizations together to take ownership in defining the future of Wichita and I look forward to working with each of you in new ways to advance our community in meaningful and measurable ways this coming year.

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.”

Updating the Chamber’s Mission and Vision

Wayne Chambers, 2014 Board Chairman

Wayne Chambers, 2014 Board Chairman

By Wayne Chambers

The end of June marked the halfway point in my term as your 2014 Chairman of the Board of Directors.  The last six months have been busy and productive. One of our Board’s latest accomplishments is the adoption of a new Mission Statement and a new Vision Statement to more accurately reflect our organization’s purpose and role in the community.  Our previous Mission was to empower the private sector to increase the wealth and well-being of all south central Kansans. I believe the updated Mission and Vision shown below are much more inclusive and concise than those we’ve used in the past.

To drive economic growth and community advancement in the Wichita region.

The Wichita region is a premier place to grow companies, careers and communities.

We’re phasing the new mission and vision statement into our communication tools this summer and expect all updates to be finalized by the end of the calendar year.

I’m looking forward to the last two quarters of 2014 being as productive and busy as the first two. Please don’t hesitate to contact me to share your thoughts about all we are doing to advance our community.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice Speaking on December 4 at Annual Meeting

Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Dr. Condoleezza Rice

By Wayne Chambers

By now our Chamber members have received a digital announcement that our 2014 Annual Meeting speaker is Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State of the United States. Her resume and international experience are very impressive and you can follow this link to view her official bio.

Dr. Rice is passionate about many of the issues that concern area business leaders:  educating our workforce, international relations, and leadership development.

An articulate barrier breaker for both her race and gender, she’s also an accomplished musician and a natural athlete. In fact, she’s such an avid football fan that I’m told she’s never missed a Super Bowl game.

I’m delighted that our sponsors have made it possible to bring her to Wichita. Our special thanks to Murfin Drilling Company, the presenting sponsor for the event. Premiere sponsors include: Bank of America, Cox Business, High Touch Technologies, INTRUST Bank, Kennedy and Coe, LLC, Lubrication Engineers Inc., Meritrust Credit Union, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., and Westar Energy.

I also appreciate the assistance from Mark Chamberlin of Armstrong Chamberlin Strategic Marketing who developed a special video announcement that was shared with Chamber membership earlier today and is available on the Chamber’s YouTube channel, titled Wichita Metro Chamber.

I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting on December 4 at Century II, and I encourage you to make your reservations for the event as soon as possible.

You can learn more about Dr. Rice by following her on Twitter @CondoleezzaRice and Facebook at Condoleeza Rice. She’s also produced two best-selling books about her experiences and you’ll find those book titles on her official bio.

See the article from Carrie Rengers’ ‘Have You Heard’ column here.

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 communications@wichitachamber.org.

Wichita Eagle’s Progress Edition Provides Insight into the Community

Progress EditionThe Wichita Eagle’s Progress edition published a few days ago on March 2. This annual update on our community provides information about how Wichita and the surrounding areas are advancing in four key areas: 

  • Where we live
  • Education
  • Health
  • Business

The special edition includes articles about the activities of the Chamber and its affiliates. Be sure to review these three articles that include observations from Chamber employees and volunteers.

Each year the Eagle also offers the Chamber and many of its partners the opportunity to submit columns about the progress being made in their areas of focus.  If you haven’t had a chance to review some of these columns, I’d encourage you to do so. In particular, take a few minutes to read the column by the Chamber’s 2014 Chairman, Wayne Chambers. His submission is titled, Time to act is now to ‘change the game’ for Wichita.  Ian Worrell, the 2014 Chair of the Young Professionals of Wichita, submitted a column titled, Really, what doesn’t Wichita have to offer?  You’ll also find informative columns by elected officials, education leaders, healthcare experts, and other community leaders.

It’s a great resource for checking the pulse of the community and understanding the priorities of area leadership.

February 6 Chairman’s Lunch Focused on Wichita’s Economic Recovery

Chairman's Lunch

We were pleased to have a SOLD OUT crowd attend our annual Chairman’s Lunch last Thursday. The discussion-style format provided some great insight into how our local leadership views the need to strengthen our local economy. Both The Wichita Eagle and The Wichita Business Journal covered the event. Here are links to articles and photos they published:

We’ve received multiple inquiries from participants about how they can access the slides that were used to set the stage for the discussion about Wichita’s economic recovery. We’ve POSTED THEM HERE for your review.

2014 Chamber Chairman Wayne Chambers closed our discussion with an observation about the imperative components we need to bring more primary jobs to South Central Kansas.

  • A full tool box Ready sites and buildings, a trained labor force, a war chest of money or incentives that our community leaders can use when needed, and an “open for business” sign. 
  • Low and/or competitive taxes
  • A business-friendly environment  
  • A common or unified voice that “we are Wichita”
  • SpeedIt’s not the big that eat the small.  It’s the fast that eat the slow.  – Jason Jennings
    Let’s leave here today and take a page out of WSU Basketball Coach Marshall’s playbook. As a community, let’s go out and “play angry” and win the competitive game.

We’d like to recognize our presenting sponsor, Grant Thornton, LLP for making it possible to host this important discussion.  We appreciate all the sponsors who participated and supported this event as well as all of those who braved the cold temperatures to join us. Our special thanks to Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh, and our 2014 Chamber Chairman Wayne Chambers for their participation. Please check the album on our Facebook page for event photos.

Gary Plummer
President & CEO

Welcome to Mr. Wayne Chambers, our 2014 Chairman

Chambers, Wayne - lobby portrait imageI am pleased to welcome Mr. Wayne Chambers as our 2014 Board Chairman. He has served on the Chamber Board since 2011 and is a previous co-chair of Visioneering. Due to his experience and a last name of “Chambers,” it seems he was destined to lead us this year.

You may also know Wayne as President and CEO of High Touch Technologies, an IT and technology services company that recently made a significant investment in downtown Wichita by purchasing the building it currently occupies.

Wayne’s recent profile in the Wichita Business Journal included his priorities for the year. We applaud his goals of increasing collaboration between the Chamber and other community organizations as well as advancing the technology alliance and Leadership Council efforts. We look forward to working with him to realize these goals in 2014.

We are delighted to have Wayne as our Chairman and are looking forward to what this year will bring for the Chamber and for the Wichita area.

Gary Plummer
President and CEO