81 Reasons to Celebrate

Celebrating important milestone events with our members is one of our favorite things to do, and we were able to do that 81 times last year. Each Member Milestone celebration was the result of a great deal of dedication and work as organizations marked new business openings, expansions, relocations, rebranding and anniversaries.

Be sure to grab a copy of today’s Wichita Eagle to see just how far and wide the celebrations reached, as we have included a map of all 81 events and several photos. Then visit our YouTube channel to see a video that recaps last year’s celebrations.

If you have an upcoming milestone event, please contact Nicole Robinson for a copy of our Event Planning Kit. We look forward to celebrating with you in 2016!

Thank you to our Chamber Champions for attending the Member Milestone events to  congratulate our members.

Thank you to our Chamber Champions for attending the Member Milestone events and celebrating with our members.

Opportunity to Lead

As a young professional myself, I am encouraged about the recent increase in awareness and conversation about the importance of identifying and supporting young leaders in Wichita. If you picked up a copy of Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, you probably noticed an editorial by the Chamber’s director of community advancement, Suzy Finn. Suzy is also the executive director of Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), a Chamber affiliate that has been identifying and supporting young leaders in our community for 10+ years.

Suzy Finn is the Executive Director of the Young Professionals of Wichita.

Suzy Finn

I would encourage you to read Suzy’s editorial, in which she names several YPs who have filled important leadership roles, and then ask yourself: “What are you doing to mentor, encourage and include the young leaders in Wichita?”

YPW Chair Sam Foreman also shared his thoughts in an inspiring blog post titled “Wichita Rising: The Opportunity Capital.” Sam’s love for our city and commitment to making it a place where opportunity abounds shines through his words, making it easy to see why the post has an organic reach of 4,200 people on Facebook. A snippet from the post is below and I hope you can take a few minutes to read it in its entirety:

Sam Foreman

Sam Foreman

“One hundred years ago, the Legends of Wichita built Cessna and Stearman dreams, rocketing Wichita from cowtown to rivets and steel to world leader in advanced manufacturing. And each major innovation and success along the way has been built by creating opportunities through jobs, products and services created by Wichita dreamers. Community-wide efforts make the distance from Dream to Done shorter every day, but there is still a lot of work left to be done. The Opportunity Capital is rising to the challenge. Will you?”


Barry Schwan

This year, one of the Chamber’s strategic priorities is to “make diversity and inclusion a greater focus for talent retention and attraction” and our 2016 Chairman Barry Schwan has not been shy in stating that is one of his top priorities. You see his thoughts in these editorials in the Wichita Business Journal and the Wichita Eagle.

It’s for these reasons and more that I’m proud to be a part of an organization that places value on young talent and I’m proud to be a YP in Wichita.

Courtney Sendall
Communications Manager, Wichita Metro Chamber

Five panelists announced for Feb 11 Chairman’s Lunch

Barry at podium cropped

2016 Chamber Chairman Barry Schwan will host the annual Chairman’s Lunch on February 11.

The annual Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Lunch will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11 at INTRUST Bank Arena. A panel of five local leaders will dig deeper into Wichita’s four clear drivers of economic growth as presented during the first phase of the Focus Forward initiative.

Funded and managed by the Wichita Community Foundation, Focus Forward is a multi-year project focused on advancing the region’s future economic growth. James Chung, a Wichita native with Reach Advisors, recently presented his initial diagnosis about Wichita’s four most important growth challenges (business cycle, entrepreneurial, human capital and perception) to a number of Wichita audiences.

“Local business community leaders have been discussing Chung’s findings and are interested in learning more from elected officials about their thoughts on these same topics,” said Gary Plummer, President and CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. “This year’s program is an opportunity to demonstrate how the Chamber, the community’s local governing bodies, and other leading organizations are utilizing the information Chung shared with us to address the challenges he’s identified.”

The discussion, moderated by Plummer, will include the following panelists:

  • Barry Schwan, 2016 Chamber Chairman
  • Jeff Longwell, Mayor, City of Wichita
  • Bob Layton, Manager, City of Wichita
  • Jim Howell, Chairman, Sedgwick County Commission
  • Mike Scholes, Manager, Sedgwick County

This community event is open to the public. Tickets are $50 for chamber members, $60 for general admission, and $650 for a corporate table sponsorship (includes eight tickets and sponsorship benefits). Call Rachel Groene at 268-1127 or visit wichitachamber.org to purchase tickets.

Millennials Matter

The Wichita Community Foundation’s Focus Forward initiative has triggered a number of important discussions about Wichita’s future. The first step in this multi-year project for advancing the region’s economic growth was a community diagnosis by James Chung, a Wichita native with Reach Advisors.

Chris Callen, CEO of Builders Plus Construction, pictured right) answers questions following his presentation about Millennials.

Chris Callen (pictured right) answers questions following his presentation about Millennials.

Chung developed his initial diagnosis last fall and shared it with multiple Wichita audiences. He identified four specific challenges that he believes require the community’s immediate attention:

  • business cycle
  • entrepreneurial
  • human capital
  • perception

Chris Callen, CEO of Builders Plus Construction, was among those Wichitans inspired by Chung’s presentation. Callen decided to dive deeper into these issues and gathered additional research regarding two of those areas: human capital and perception. He shared his findings at the Chamber’s January 13 Sunrise Scrambler with a presentation titled, Who are Millennials and Why Does it Matter?

The research Callen assembled included the results from a 2015 survey conducted by the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) about how millennials perceive Wichita and the factors that influence their decisions about where to live. Callen drew from Haydn Shaw’s book, Sticking Points: How to get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart, for tips on how to attract and retain millennials.

Callen’s presentation was an important extension of the discussions that have taken place across the city following Chung’s presentations last fall. Chamber Chairman Barry Schwan has made the expansion of these discussions one of his priorities for the 2016 Chairman’s Lunch. On February 11, a panel discussion about the four primary challenges Chung identified will be moderated by Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer. The panel will include 2016 Chamber Chairman Barry Schwan, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, Wichita City Manager Bob Layton, Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Jim Howell and Sedgwick County Manager Michael Scholes.

Millennials do matter to our community, as does every generation in our workforce. Understanding how to attract and retain them is of vital interest to regional businesses that require their unique talents to thrive. The work of transforming Wichita from a ‘spot on the map’ to a ‘destination point’ for the area’s most talented employees is underway. We’re fortunate that  young community leaders like Chris are accelerating the discussions about the importance of Wichita’s next steps.

Special thanks to the January Sunrise Scrambler event sponsors:  Legacy Bank, Venue 332 at Wichita Scottish Rite Center and Davis-Moore.

Important Links
Chris Callen’s presentation – Who are Millennials and Why Does it Matter?
Photos from January Sunrise Scrambler
Registration for February 11 Chairman’s Lunch
Registration for February 17 Sunrise Scrambler

Elliott named Chamber Vice President

Angie Elliott has been named Vice President of Business Services for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. Her promotion was effective January 1, 2016.

Angie Elliott has been named Vice President of Business Services for the Chamber.

Angie Elliott has been named Vice President of Business Services for the Chamber.

Elliott has been with the Chamber since 2008, when she was named Manager of Business Services. In her new role she oversees the largest business-related events in the community, including the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, Honors Night, and Exposure. In 2015, the Chamber recorded a total attendance of 9,600 at 34 business service events.

Chamber President & CEO Gary Plummer said that Elliott had been promoted as a result of her strong performance during her Chamber tenure, but particularly for assuming more leadership responsibility for her department in 2015. “She’s a strategic thinker who brings a great deal of leadership to our team. We feel very fortunate to have someone of her caliber dedicated to developing the events and programs our members need.”

Elliott earned her bachelor’s in Business from Friends University and earned a Master’s degree from Wichita State University. She’s a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Institute for Organization Management. Elliott has also volunteered for the Kansas Humane Society and is currently a Big Sister mentor.

Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda shared this week

The Chamber's 2016 Legislative Agenda is available as a palm card and on the Chamber's website.

The Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda is available as a palm card and on the Chamber’s website.

Legislators have returned to Topeka for the 2016 session this week. All 165 legislators will receive a palm card familiarizing them with the Wichita Metro Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda. The agenda was developed by the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee last fall after input from Chamber members and then approved by the Chamber’s Board of Directors last month. For more information about the steps involved in the agenda development and approval process, refer to the Government Relations brochure link on our website.

The Chamber’s primary government relations goal is to create a better business environment for your company or organization by promoting investment, innovation and job creation. Our 2015 legislative agenda and the wins/losses for last year’s session are available for your review on our website as well as a bill tracking scorecard for the 2015 session.

Building a better business environment in 2016

Jon Rosell (pictured left) received a plaque commemorating his tenure as the 2015 Chamber Chairman from 2016 Chairman Barry Scwan.

Jon Rosell (pictured left) received a plaque commemorating his tenure as the 2015 Chamber Chairman from 2016 Chairman Barry Schwan.

by Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman

Jon Rosell, the Chamber’s 2015 Chairman, is a well-respected leader throughout our community who guided us through a landmark year in 2015. During his tenure, Jon worked in conjunction with others on the transformation of the Chamber’s Leadership Council into a new and separate entity, the Greater Wichita Partnership.

The Chamber had a significant role in establishing this new economic vision for our region. Jon and Gary Plummer, the Chamber’s President & CEO, were fully engaged in moving the work of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC) to this new partnership.

Jon also oversaw other major Chamber accomplishments last year:

  • Increased membership for the fourth year in a row, adding nearly 400 new members with 226 resulting from a 3-day membership drive
  • Lobbied for 18 pro-business legislative wins, including major reform for the unemployment insurance system and funding for NIAR
  • Completed the Chamber’s tenth city-to-city visit to learn from peers across the country
  • Celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Young Professionals of Wichita, a Chamber affiliate, as they experienced a record number of members and record event attendance
  • Secured an experienced and talented CFO to oversee the financials for the Chamber, Greater Wichita Partnership and the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation

I’d like to thank Jon for the role he played in building a better business environment for all of us in 2015, and his continued commitment to our community. His collaboration with other Chamber partners last year set the stage for further advancement in 2016.

The global competition for talent and innovative ideas makes it imperative for Wichita’s stakeholders to align and integrate our efforts. We need to maximize every opportunity to drive economic growth and community advancement in the Wichita region. I look forward to continuing that positive momentum in 2016 as the Chamber accelerates our collaborative efforts with partners and stakeholders.


Introducing Our 2016 Board Officers & New Members

Barry Schwan

Barry Schwan

The new year brings new Board leadership for the Chamber, and Barry Schwan (owner of House of Schwan) will serve as the 2016 Board Chairman. Scott Schwindaman (president and CEO of Lubrication Engineers) will serve as the Chair-Elect.

Bill Wood (partner at Foulston Siefkin LLP) was elected at a recent board meeting and will serve as First Vice Chairman in 2016.

The complete list of 2016 officers and Executive Committee members is as follows:

  • Barry Schwan, Chair, House of Schwan, Inc.

    Scott Schwindaman

    Scott Schwindaman

  • Jon Rosell, Immediate Past Chair, Medical Society of Sedgwick County
  • Scott Schwindaman, Chair Elect, Lubrication Engineers, Inc.
  • Bill Wood, First Vice Chair, Foulston and Siefkin LLP
  • Mark Tucker, Treasurer, Cox Business
  • Gary Plummer, President and CEO, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • David Hodge, Finance Vice Chair, Emprise Bank
  • Walter Berry, Government Relations Vice Chair, Berry Companies, Inc.
  • Shelly Prichard, Community Advancement Vice Chair, Wichita Community Foundation
  • Gary Schmitt, Economic Development Vice Chair, INTRUST Bank, N.A.
  • Claudio Ferraro, Leadership Vice Chair, Via Christi Health
  • Michael Monteferrante, Membership Vice Chair, Envision, Inc.
  • Jeff Van Sickle, Business Services Vice Chair, GLMV Architecture
  • Sam Foreman, Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) Vice Chair, Klenda Austerman LLC
  • Junetta Everett, Vice Chair at Large, Delta Dental of Kansas, Inc.
  • Martha Linsner, Vice Chair at Large, TCK – The Trust Company of Kansas
  • Vic McMullen, Vice Chair at Large, Spirit AeroSystems
  • Mark Nichols, Vice Chair at Large, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC
  • Bill Voloch, Vice Chair at Large, Wesley Medical Cente
  • Jim Walters, Vice Chair at Large, Textron Aviation

The following business leaders were recently elected or appointed to the Chamber’s 2016 Board of Directors:

  • Jeff Beasley – Westar Energy
  • Jason Cox – Cox Machine
  • Ellen Decker – Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C./Young Professionals of Wichita
  • Peggy Deiter – Bombardier Learjet
  • Joy Eakins – Cornerstone Design and Development, Inc.
  • Adrienne Foster – Wichita Hispanic Chamber
  • Ben Hutton – Hutton Construction Corporation
  • Matt Michaelis – Perla Capital/Emprise Bank
  • Jack Pulley – Davis Moore Auto Group/Friends of McConnell
  • Gabe Schlickau – State Farm
  • Col. Dave Weishaar – Kansas Air National Guard
  • Kris Wessel – The Martens Companies/Wichita Manufacturing Association
  • Wendy Williamson – Williamson Wellness Center LLC
  • Zach Woodburn – Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
  • Damon Young – Mahaney Roofing Company/Wichita Metro Chamber Political Action Committee

The new board terms began Jan. 1, 2016. A complete list of the current Chamber Board of Directors is available at wichitachamber.org.