By Jon Rosell, 2015 Chamber Chair
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.