Is Wichita embracing or dismissing emerging trends?

Carol Coletta shared her expertise on developing communities that attract and retain talent during the first presentation in the Fuel the Fire speaker series. Coletta spoke to a group of more than two hundred who gathered to hear about emerging trends and how Wichita can provide catalytic growth opportunities. Cities ignoring or denying these trends will lose their competitive advantage.

–The world is moving too fast to research and replicate “best practices” in other places.

–58% of the success of your community is tied to college-educated talent. Your community’s college graduation should be measured, monitored and moving upward.

–An economically integrated community positively influences intergenerational mobility within that community.

–Economic mobility is more difficult than ever to achieve today, especially if you don’t live near a college-educated talent pool.

–A vibrant core is imperative for your community’s success and evidence supports the importance of ‘place’ as an accelerator of talent and opportunity.

–The 25-34 age group wants to live within a 3-mile (walkable) radius of the city core. This is a 40-year trend that keeps accelerating. This age group chooses ‘place’ first and then looks for jobs.

–Business is following talent back to city cores.

–Every city has a distinctiveness and you must find yours and promote it. What are the attributes that make your city unique?

–Brand exhaustion makes your city’s localness more appealing.

–The future of a city is no longer determined by a few bold decisions made by several key people. Community development is now a product of lots of decisions made by lots of people.

–Cities should retain and capitalize on loyalty from those who aren’t always physically present in the community, but might contribute their time, talent or treasure if asked. U.S. cities haven’t approached this fractional loyalty in an organized way, but the country of Australia has made a concerted effort to stay networked with their citizens who live abroad.

Coletta warned that that the non-believers will tell you not to invest in your community and will cause you to continue to fall further and further behind. She advised the crowd to put every community decision they are asked to support to a simple test. Does it increase talent, opportunity, or quality of place?

A challenge was also issued to the 25-34 age group in Wichita to have the courage to start building vibrancy now. “There’s no need to wait for permission to get started,” said Coletta. It’s time for all age groups to understand Wichita’s Localness and lean into it.

Next up in the speaker’s series is native Wichitan James Chung on September 17. He’ll share his insight into the demographic changes affecting communities like Wichita. RSVP for the remaining two events in the speaker series here, and see the official press release about the series here.

Carol Coletta speaks to a crowd of 200+ at the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series kick off.

Carol Coletta speaks to a crowd of 200+ at the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series kick off.


Phyllis Robertson – Wichita’s newest entrepreneur

Phyllis Robertson

Phyllis Robertson

After five and a half years of service, Phyllis Robertson will leave her position as Vice President of Business Services at the Chamber. She has filled the role since 2009 when the position was created to evaluate how the Chamber could offer more resources and services to small business members. Phyllis has been a champion for small business members and local entrepreneurs, developing programs to assist them in growing their businesses.

“Phyllis has been instrumental in growing the programs available to our small business members, as well as a connector for small businesses and resources available in all parts of our community,” Chamber President Gary Plummer said. “We thank and congratulate Phyllis on her successful career with the Chamber, and wish her every success in the future.”

“There are so many wonderful people and businesses in Wichita, and I have truly enjoyed meeting and getting to know the stories of so many of them,” Phyllis said.

She plans to begin a new business venture as a consultant and executive coach. Her last day is August 28.

Defining Wichita’s Brand

How should Wichita tell its story to prospective employees, visitors, conventioneers, students, developers, artists, business owners, and entrepreneurs?

A unique partnership between Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC), Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Wichita Community Foundation and Wichita State University has been formed to work together to develop a comprehensive community wide strategy on how Wichita will tell its story. The public is invited to attend and provide input about Wichita’s brand at one of two workshops that will be held at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center (332 E. 1st St. N.). The sessions are Tuesday, September 2 or Wednesday, September 3. Both sessions will be from 5-7 p.m.

“Selling our community is about finding a way to demonstrate our uniqueness in the marketplace and the brand summit is how we accomplish this task. The Chamber and GWEDC are excited to be part of, what we believe will be, an extremely successful new initiative,” said Tim Chase, president of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition.

Gary Plummer, president and CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber, says that public input will help the coalition of brand partners to develop a better product and plan. “We’re strongly encouraging our members to actively participate in one of these sessions. We need their ideas and input about how to incorporate the best of Wichita in our community brand.”

The sessions don’t require a reservation to attend, and they are free and open to the public.

See the official press release and learn more at


Coletta Kicks Off Fuel the Fire Speaker Series this Thursday

Carol Coletta

Carol Coletta

You have heard us talking about it, and now the time has almost arrived for the The Fuel the Fire Speaker Series to begin. Carol Coletta, Vice President of Community and National Initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is an expert on the development of cities and will be in Wichita this Thursday, Aug. 28 to speak about the importance of cultivating and sustaining talent in Wichita.

The series of three speakers, which is designed to engage the community in conversations revolving around national trends, will focus on how to competitively position Wichita for the future. The Wichita Community Foundation, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce have partnered to make this series possible.

Before joining the Knight Foundation in 2013, Coletta was director of ArtPlace, a unique public-private collaboration to accelerate creative placemaking in communities across the United States. ArtPlace brings together leading private foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, other federal agencies and major banks.

Coletta is also a past president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders. She has served as executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, and also ran a Memphis-based public affairs consulting firm, Coletta & Company, focused on civic issues.

She has written and spoken extensively on the future of cities, including how communities develop, attract and retain talent, making her the perfect person to kick off the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series.

Coletta‘s keynote, which is free and open to the public, is on Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. at The LUX (120 E. 1st St. N.). For additional details, and to RSVP, visit

Media Links
Official News Release
Jeff Fluhr of WDDC and Shelly Prichard of WCF on 99.7 Lite FM Lite is Local 
Wichita Business Journal Article
Wichita Eagle Article


A Recap of “Understanding How We Learn”

By Courtney Sendall, Communications Coordinator

Last week’s Sunrise Scrambler had attendees on their feet and tapping into their artistic side as Steve Dunn, Associate Dean of the School of Education at Newman University, presented “Understanding How We Learn.” Steve used several activities to demonstrate different learning styles, and we have summarized his main points below.

  • Learning occurs when teachers create safe, active and collaborative environments (in a classroom or the workplace), as well as employ a variety of learning activities to engage learners of all types.
  • Effective teachers love their subject, their students, and are always reflecting and striving to become better.
  • In the process of learning, taking time to reflect on what you are studying is critical to improving. In fact, a study revealed that we need to spend about 50% of our learning time reflecting upon and evaluating the information we have gathered.

You can view Steve’s PowerPoint here and visit our Facebook page to see photos of the interactive presentation. Thank you to our sponsors Legacy Bank, Best Western Wichita North Hotel & Suites, and Davis-Moore Automotive, Inc. for making this program possible.

Next month’s Sunrise Scrambler is scheduled for September 25 at the Hyatt and will feature Eric Fisher, Founder and President of Eric Fisher Salon and Eric Fisher Academy. After the September Scrambler, plan to head down to Expo Hall in Century II for Exposure, the area’s largest business-to-business networking event. Register here for the Scrambler.

Steve Dunn

Steve Dunn

Tune into 99.7 Lite FM on Mondays for Chamber News

By Courtney Sendall, Communications Coordinator

Chamber Member 99.7 LITE FM is now broadcasting a Lite Wichita Chamber Update every Monday at 6:50 and 8:25 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. We’re using this air time to promote Chamber events and programming. We’re also recognizing members who have exciting news to share. If you miss the local broadcast you can check the station’s website for past podcasts.

We are thrilled to have this opportunity to raise awareness among the general public about how the Chamber and our partners are driving economic growth and community advancement in the Wichita region.

A big thank you to Belinda Atteberry and her 99.7 Lite FM team for making this partnership possible.

Courtney Sendall in the 99.7 Lite FM studio

Courtney Sendall in the 99.7 Lite FM studio

New Jobs and Investment in Sedgwick County

By Tim Chase, GWEDC President
A vital part of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition’s (GWEDC) mission is to help retain and expand local job growth. This week’s announcement about Reiloy Westland Corporation’s expansion demonstrates how GWEDC works with other agencies to ensure that well-paying manufacturing jobs don’t leave South Central Kansas. You can read more about those expansion plans in the company’s news release and the Wichita Eagle article.

Once the company determined the need for expansion, President Dave Larson considered moving the business from their current Sedgwick County location to the Chicago area. Larson said, “We’re landlocked at our current site, so we couldn’t consider staying at the Maize Road location. We needed to relocate our machinery and assets. The Chicago area was attractive to me for a variety of reasons. I’m from that area of the Midwest and Chicago is much closer to our company’s largest customers.  Maize and other communities within the state of Kansas were considered and once they found out we were serious about moving, they were eager to partner with us. A number of communities offered us a variety of financial incentives to relocate, including a community that offered us a free building.”

While Larson ultimately attributes the company’s decision to stay within Sedgwick County to tax abatements, the impressive work ethic of his current team also played a role in the company’s decision. “The cooperation from various agencies made the tax abatements possible. And the skills and dedication of the workforce in this region are exceptional. We considered a lot of different options, but we just didn’t think we could ever replicate the strong work ethic we’ve experienced here.”

Larson also credited the local agencies that worked together on the project. Representatives from the city of Maize, K-96 Corridor Development Association, Sedgwick County, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC), and the state of Kansas all worked together to keep the company and its jobs in the region.

This was a tremendous opportunity to retain a solid area employer. It also helps us continue to diversify our region’s employment base, since this is a non-aviation manufacturer generating revenue from sales outside of Kansas.

Our congratulations to Reiloy Westland President, Dave Larson, and all the other agencies that assisted the company.  I’d like to add my special thanks to our dedicated GWEDC staff who work diligently year-round on these projects. GWEDC Vice President of Business Development David Bossemeyer spent many hours assisting his contacts at Reiloy Westland Corporation with the documentation necessary to facilitate the use of the IRBs.

Reiloy Westland has some exciting plans for expanding their presence and foreign investment in our region and we look forward to continuing to work with them during the next five years.

Support for City Sales Tax

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted today to support the proposed 1 percent sales tax referendum as passed by the Wichita City Council on August 5, 2014. The decision is aligned with the Chamber’s mission: To drive economic growth and community advancement in the Wichita region. This Board decision also supports the Chamber’s Vision, which is to make sure Wichita is the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities.

It’s Time to Fuel the Fire

PrintPositioning Wichita as the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities requires understanding changing demographics, new concepts in urban planning and other shifts in the consumer landscape. The Fuel the Fire Speaker Series provides a unique opportunity for Wichitans to listen, learn and ask questions at three upcoming presentations. The series is a collaborative effort between the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and the Wichita Community Foundation to engage the community in discussions about changing national trends that will affect Wichita’s future.

Jeff Fluhr is the president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation (WDDC) and an enthusiastic supporter of moving Wichita forward. His editorial in today’s Wichita Business Journal provides more information about the speaker series and an invitation to participate.  “We need the unique perspectives and input of community volunteers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, elected officials, young professionals, social service providers, artists, business leaders, educators and workforce recruiters. Consider yourself invited if you care about Wichita and want to be involved in making sure it thrives.”

You can also learn more about the series by tuning in to the LITE IS LOCAL program on 99.7 LITE FM this Sunday (August 17) at 8 a.m.  Jeff Fluhr and Shelly Prichard, President and CEO of the Wichita Community Foundation (WCF), recorded the program earlier this week and provided more details about how they hope the series will impact Wichita’s future.

Mark the dates on your calendar (August 28, September 17 and October 29) and plan to attend. Each session will be held at 5 p.m. at The Lux (120 East First). Please RSVP soon since space is limited.

The Fuel the Fire Speaker Series is made possible through a grant from the Knight Foundation Fund at WCF, as well as funds from WCF, WDDC and the Chamber’s Leadership Council.

Jeff Fluhr and Shelly Prichard at 99.7 Lite FM

                            Jeff Fluhr and Shelly Prichard at 99.7 Lite FM


Community Organizations Announce Fuel the Fire Speaker Series

The Wichita Community Foundation (WCF), Wichita Downtown Development Corporation (WDDC), and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Council have partnered to host the Fuel the Fire Speaker Series this fall. All three keynotes are open to the public and will be at 5 p.m. at The LUX (120 E. 1st St. N.).

  • August 28 – Carol Coletta, Vice President of Community and National Initiatives at the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation
  • September 17 – James Chung, President of Reach Advisors
  • October 29 – Brad Segal, President of Progressive Urban Management Associates

The purpose of the series is to engage the community in discussions about national trends on the topics of talent, opportunity and place to competitively position Wichita for the future.

WCF President and CEO Shelly Prichard said her Board supports the idea of stimulating community conversation by bringing in thought leaders and subject matter experts. “We want to ensure that Wichita is retaining top talent, providing unique opportunities for our citizens, and projecting an image of a place others want to live.”

WDDC President, Jeff Fluhr, notes “National shifts in demographic trends are fueling change throughout the nation and in our community. Each of these speakers will provide valuable insight on how these demographic shifts are affecting our city and what opportunities are resulting because of them.”

“We’re not looking for these speakers to provide easy answers to our region’s challenges,” said Suzie Ahlstrand, Executive Vice President of Community Development at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. “But their ideas, experience, and the results of their research can ignite the type of discussions that we need to provoke thought and help fuel the fire. We’re confident that we’ll find better and more creative solutions as a result of
hearing their presentations.”

The sessions are free to attend, and those interested can RSVP at

The Fuel the Fire Speaker Series is made possible through a grant from the Knight Foundation Fund at WCF, as well as funds from WCF, WDDC and the Chamber’s Leadership Council.

Carol Coletta

Carol Coletta

James Chung

James Chung

Brad Segal

Brad Segal