5 Reasons YPW is Wichitawesome

YPW Staffers Suzy Finn & Meg Foreman

YPW Staffers Suzy Finn & Meg Foreman

We could not be more proud to congratulate Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) as they celebrate their 10th anniversary this week. As Wichita Eagle reporter Bryan Horwarth put it in a recent article on the organization, “Back in 2005, when the Young Professionals of Wichita organization was born, a tweet was still a sound made by a bird.” So much has changed in the decade since YPW was organized, but their mission has remained the same: to attract and retain young talent for our city. And if their membership and engagement numbers are any indication (recently surpassing 2,600 individuals), they are succeeding.

To mark the anniversary, YPW is celebrating with a week of events, called YP Week. It kicked off with a breakfast this morning with Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and a YP “organization fair” at the Farm & Art Market Square in Old Town this evening. There will be events each day this week to celebrate the young professionals working and making a difference in Wichita, concluding with a 10th anniversary gala and YPW awards event Friday at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center (see videos about the awards finalists below). For more information on all things YP Week, visit www.ypwichita.org.

We have also compiled five reasons that make YPW one of Wichita’s crown jewels:

  1. #2600Members
  2. #200KInvestedinICT
  3. #CountlessVolunteerHours
  4. #SuzyandMegRock
  5. #WichitasFuture

In case you missed it, Chamber Board Chair Jon Rosell submitted a letter to the editor of both the Wichita Business Journal and the Wichita Eagle. Check them both out and be sure to thank one of the YPs in your life for choosing to make Wichita the best it can be.

Renee Anderson to depart Chamber

Renee Anderson

Renee Anderson

It was November 2011 when Renee Anderson joined the Chamber staff as part of our Community Advancement team.  Now, the Chamber journey for Renee will come to an end on July 24.

During these last nearly four years, Renee has graciously touched many aspects of the Chamber, including Visioneering Wichita and all the alliances, City-to-City Leadership Visits and the Wichita Educational Foundation.  Her impact has been felt in health care, environmental issues, workforce, entrepreneurship, education, a multi-county legislative agenda, economic development, and YPW initiatives.

Renee’s friendships among our staff are deep and genuine.  Her sincere desire to work with people throughout the community to achieve success is evident.  Her kindness coupled with her professional demeanor has graced all who have had the privilege of working with her.

Renee will be very missed, but we wish her the very best in the days and years ahead.

A Quick History of 145 Years of Wichita

Now recognized as one of the major mid-sized cities in the nation, Wichita has come a long way since its infant years as a trading post and cowtown. The road from “then” to “now” has been filled with people, events and businesses that have been the building blocks for today’s cosmopolitan Wichita… a dynamic community rich in culture, activity and opportunity. 


Wichita’s reputation for manufacturing and exporting is not a recent development, as archaeological evidence indicates that the site of present-day Wichita has served as a trading center for thousands of years. Settlers were first attracted to the area in the mid-1850s, as they traveled through the prairies on their way to the west and were deterred when they found significant profits from hunting and trapping wildlife to trade with the native population.

The Wild, Wild West 
The beginnings of the community date to 1868, when J.R. Mead founded a trading post on the banks of the confluence of two rivers, the Arkansas and the Little Arkansas. For centuries this location had also served as a trading place for Native Americans. The name Wichita comes from the Wichita Indians, who settled at various times in the vicinity, and means either “scattered lodges” or “painted faces,” depending on which historian you ask.

In 1868, a Wichita Town Company was organized with Mead and six others as original incorporators. Wichita was incorporated as a city of the third class on July 21, 1870. One hundred twenty-three men and one woman signed the original incorporation petition. The woman was Mrs. Catherine McCarty, who owned and operated a laundry. Later, she moved to New Mexico, where her oldest son, Henry, changed his name to William Bonney, better known as “Billy the Kid.”

Move Along, Little Doggies
LivabilityWithin a year of incorporation, Wichita experienced phenomenal growth, due largely to the cattle trade from Texas. So rapid was the population growth that in late 1872, Wichita became a city of the second class. Jesse Chisholm came to Wichita first in about 1863, leading a party of sportsmen and adventurers here to hunt game. He later marked the cattle trail, best known as the Chisholm Trail , from the King Ranch in south Texas to Kansas. Cattle by the hundreds of thousands traversed the trail to the Santa Fe railhead at Wichita. In 1872 alone, 350,000 head of cattle were sold in Wichita at a value of more than $2 million, a princely sum in those days.

Spurred by this influx of cowboys in the 1870s who brought hundreds of thousands of cattle out of Texas north to Wichita along the Chisholm Trail, Wichita was indeed a rough and tumble cowtown. It was a city where Wyatt Earp, “Buffalo Bill” William Mathewson, and Bat Masterson walked the dusty streets. Just west of the river, the area known as Delano was especially wild and woolly. All manner of vice could be found in saloons, dance halls, and gambling to entertain the thirsty and lonely cowboys.

Down To Business 
Wichita fell on hard times in the late 1870s when the cattle trade moved further west to take advantage of the construction of rail lines. But, by 1880, the city had rebounded with a growing economy in agriculture and manufacturing. The first Board of Trade was opened in 1880. The Commercial Club was founded in 1897 and became the Chamber of Commerce in 1901. The present day Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce dates from 1917.

Even though the cattle trade lasted only three or four years, its presence assured Wichita’s position as a commercial hub. With the trade groundwork firmly established, manufacturing and agriculture industries thrived in the late teens and early 1920s. In addition, savvy aviation entrepreneurs moved in to take advantage of the benefits of a prosperous oil industry, agreeable climate and wide open spaces perfect for building and testing these new birds of flight.

Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines
Showing assembly line of AT-6 Texan II at Beechcraft, 1980 S Airport Road.Men like Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, E.M. Laird, J.M. Mollendick and George Weaver were responsible for starting the aircraft industry in the area. With Mollendick as the financial backer, Laird started the Swallow Airplane Company to build the Swallow airplane that had been designed in Chicago. Interestingly, Beech, Stearman, and Weaver all worked for Laird and Mollendick until each went on to establish his own company. Stearman’s company later was purchased by The Boeing Company of Seattle, now Spirit AeroSystems.

The Beech and Cessna companies (now Textron Aviation) continue today, as does Learjet (now Bombardier Aerospace Learjet), founded by William Lear in the mid 1960s. It was through the efforts of these aviation pioneers that Wichita earned the title of “Air Capital of the World.” With all companies still located in Wichita, that title firmly remains today.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives On 
ItShot for Wichita 07 was not only aviation that established Wichita as a hotbed of entrepreneurship. Many other Wichita business leaders have made their mark too. W.C. Coleman, a name synonymous worldwide with camping and outdoor recreational equipment, produced his first Coleman lantern in Wichita in 1914.

About the same time, another innovative business leader, A.A. Hyde, invented a product that was to become a household word… mentholatum. Later, two enterprising Wichitans launched White Castle hamburgers here.

Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the U.S., is another homegrown success story. Originally established as the Wood River Oil and Refining Company in 1940, Koch Industries has become one of the most diverse firms in the nation. Koch operations include refined products, chemicals, crude oil services, gas liquids, energy services, chemical technology, minerals services, agriculture and capital services.ARCHIVE:  Wichita 08 cc'd

In 1958, Frank and Dan Carney borrowed $600 from their mother and established their first Pizza Hut in Wichita in a small red-bricked building. This original Pizza Hut now resides on the campus of Wichita State University as testimony to the possibilities of vision, hard work and the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Obviously, Wichita has come a long way since its beginnings as a trading post and cowtown. But, it’s the original foundation as a center for commerce that has been the one constant ensuring Wichita ‘s progress through good times and bad. It’s a legacy of commerce that will continue to keep Wichita prosperous as we charge ahead in this 21st century.

Sources: Dr. Craig Miner, The Wichita State University ; ” Wichita Century” by R.L. Long; “Visions from the Heartland” by Howard Inglish

Waving Wichita’s Flag

City of Wichita

Post pictures of your organization flying Wichita’s official flag to @WichitaFlag on Twitter and Instagram.

In case you missed it, today’s Wichita Eagle Business Today section has an editorial by Angie Elliott about Wichita’s official city flag. Angie is the Manager of Business Services for the Chamber and has been part of a recent grassroots movement to elevate the flag’s prominence in our city’s landscape. She’s always been one of Wichita’s most vocal advocates and a Wichita flag lapel pin is now an essential part of her wardrobe. She’s found it to be the perfect entrée into daily discussions about what people love about Wichita.

Angie has enthusiastically swept the rest of us up into her project to educate Wichitans about the flag. We’re now flying it daily at the Chamber building and we distributed flag lapel pins to all of our Board members at our monthly meeting in June.

As we approach Wichita’s birthday on July 21, we hope you’ll join us in posting flag images to the @WichitaFlag Instagram and Twitter accounts. Be sure to use #WichitaFlag and include the reasons you love Wichita. It’s an easy way to demonstrate our pride in the people, organizations, businesses, and places that make Wichita so special.

Landon to join Wichita Community Foundation

Landon, Holly - webHolly Landon has announced that she will take the next step in her promising career as the Director of Philanthropic Giving for the Wichita Community Foundation. For the past seven years, Holly has managed some of our largest member events and built many valuable relationships for the Chamber in her role as Manager of Business Services.

Gary Plummer, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, described Holly as an emerging community leader. “Holly has a wide network of business connections and she’s been a strong team player in our mission to drive economic growth and community advancement in the Wichita region. We will miss her dedication to our members and her drive to continually improving their Chamber experiences. We’re very pleased that she’s joining an organization that will utilize her talents to further benefit Wichita.”

Holly’s last day at the Chamber will be July 15, and she will begin her new role at the Wichita Community Foundation on July 20. We wish her all the best in this new adventure.

FOM – Paying it forward

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this week, we’ll also be remembering the sacrifices so many families and individuals have made throughout our history to ensure that our country remains free and independent. It’s also a good time to thank the local airmen of McConnell Air Force Base for fulfilling their current mission.

FOM donates Wichita River Festival buttons to airmen at McConnell AFB as one of their hospitality programs.

FOM donates Wichita River Festival buttons to airmen at McConnell AFB as one of their hospitality programs.

The Friends of McConnell (FOM) is a Chamber affiliate that strives to make sure the airmen at McConnell Air Force Base hear that message of appreciation year-round directly from the Wichita business community. Originally formed in the 1960s, the FOM is comprised of business leaders and individuals working to ensure that McConnell AFB is the most appealing assignment in the careers of the airmen and officers who serve there. They also provide meaningful social and economic linkages between senior military leaders and their civilian counterparts.

The FOM is involved in more than 30 events and programs a year that support McConnell airmen and their families. The group is recognized by past and current McConnell officers as being instrumental in the decision of many airmen to stay in Wichita once they retire. In the words of retired Colonel Cathy McClain, “The Friends of McConnell pay it forward.”

Chamber Board members like Claudio Ferraro of Via Christi believe the FOM is vital to forging strong bonds between the Base and the community. Ferraro recently said, “FOM has served as the catalyst directly linking Via Christi and McConnell AFB. Via Christi’s role in supporting McConnell would not be where it is had FOM not thrived under its longstanding visionary leadership.”

We salute the Friends of McConnell leadership and members for everything they do to support the mission of McConnell AFB and strengthen the ties between the airmen and our community. We invite you to learn more about the Friends of McConnell and their mission by visiting their Facebook page or the Chamber’s website.

Have a safe celebration.