Williams hits hole-in-one, wins car at Chamber Golf Classic

By Josh Wallentine

Sam Williams, retired managing partner of Sullivan Higdon & Sink, is now in the history books of the Chamber Golf Classic as the first person to take home the hole-in-one prize, which just so happened to be a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit in Granite Pearl.

The hole-in-one contest was sponsored by Davis-Moore Auto Group and took place on Tallgrass Country Club’s hole #7 with a distance of 175 yards.

Sam said he was shocked that he made the hole-in-one. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It landed on the green and as it was rolling towards the pin I realized ‘this ball may go in.’ And sure enough, it did.”

Jack Pulley, the representative from Davis-Moore, thought the Jeep would wait to be awarded another day. “By mid-afternoon, people had come relatively close to the hole, but not close enough,” he said. “That was until Sam walked up and landed the shot perfectly.”

The 23rd Annual Golf Classic was held on June 6. Gary Plummer, Chamber President and CEO, was pleased with the event. “The weather was perfect and everyone had plenty of opportunities for networking,” he said. “A big ‘thank you’ goes out to the 250 golfers from businesses around Wichita and the 70+ volunteers who came out to support the Chamber.”

Proceeds from the Golf Classic underwrite Chamber programming throughout the year. The 2017 Wichita Metro Chamber Golf Classic will be held Monday, June 5, so mark your calendars now!

Sam Williams, winner; Andrew Lesh, Sales Associate with Davis-Moore Auto Group; Sean Tarbell, President and CEO of Davis-Moore Auto Group

Sam Williams, winner; Andrew Lesh, Sales Associate with Davis-Moore Auto Group; Sean Tarbell, President and CEO of Davis-Moore Auto Group

Expose Your Biz, Grow Your Network

By Lyndsey Edwards

Are you looking for a good way to expose your business? The 2016 Exposure Business-to-Business Trade Show will be held Thursday, September 29 at Century II Expo Hall. Exposure is the largest trade show of its kind in the area with more than 220 exhibitors and 1,800 attendees. We invite you to register to exhibit your business at Exposure today! Not only will you get to promote your business and expand your network, but you’ll also get an exclusive look at new products and services.

Taylor Dixon with Criser, Gough and Parrish LLC said, “We meet hundreds of people at Exposure, which has led to new clients and relationships. The business connections are why we come back every year. The community connections we make at the show are irreplaceable as well.”

Make sure you check out the brochure that will hit your mailbox this week for all the details on how to register and to pick your booth space. Early-bird pricing ends one month from today on July 29, so make sure to get your registration in before the prices go up. For more details and to see a floor map, check out WichitaBusinessExposure.com.

2016 Exposure Brochure_CoverCrop

Real dialogue. Real leadership.

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

The letter below was published in today’s Wichita Eagle.

A constitutional crisis is upon us. The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened to close schools on July 1 if the legislature fails to equalize funding disparities between school districts.

This is just yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of school finance battles between the Court and Legislature. However, the stakes are much higher this time around and the uncertainty is impacting more than parents, teachers and school children. Business leaders are reporting difficulty in recruiting employees and top-level managers due to the negative news coverage.

This must stop now. It’s time for real dialogue and real leadership.

A good number of legislative leaders are working hard towards a resolution that will keep schools open. However, some seem almost singularly focused on criticizing the Court.  Schools, understandably, are working to protect their own self-interests. The Court has a difficult job, but a job to do nonetheless. Like it or not, they are the final authority on the constitutionality of school finance law. However, threatening to close schools is unwise and counterproductive.

Wealthier school districts and their communities are calling for funding plans with “hold harmless” provisions. Translated this means they don’t want any money taken from their districts and shared with the state’s poorer districts. Unfortunately, this flies directly counter to the definition of equalization.

In Wichita, U.S.D. 259 (the state’s largest school district) educates 2,000 homeless school children per year. Nearly 78% of the student body is considered at risk and qualifies for free or reduced lunches. A sizable number of students consider English as their second language with students speaking over 100 different languages as their primary language. Countless studies have proven that educating students from poorer urban settings costs more than educating students from affluent areas. It is critical that these students are given the same opportunities for success as children in wealthy school districts. Kansas cannot and should not be known as a state where a child’s educational success is decided by their zip code.

There is plenty of blame to go around. We all need to shoulder our fair share, including the Wichita Chamber. We’ve had three years to address this issue, provide leadership and avoid the crisis we now face. Pointing fingers and playing the blame game doesn’t move us forward. At best, it paralyzes us in the current dilemma. At worst, it actually moves us backwards. Let’s at least develop a short-term solution and pledge to continue to work together on a sustainable resolution.

It’s time to separate from our silos, depart from our protected turf and come together in the best interests of our children, our communities and the future of our great state.

Communication interns make most of experience

By Josh Wallentine

Kali Babich and I started our internships at Google earlier…oh wait. I always get the movie with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson mixed up with our internship at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce that started earlier this month to assist the Communications and Investor Relations Department with events, photography, social media and special projects. Both of us will be here until August.

Kali, a junior from Kansas State University, joins the Chamber for the summer as she pursues her degree in public relations with an emphasis in leadership. Kali said the reason she chose to intern at the Chamber was to become exposed to real world marketing experience and become involved in the community. “Wichita is a great community that provides a substantial amount of opportunities to meet great people and make lasting connections,” she said. When her internship is complete, she plans to return to K-State and join PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and continue to be involved in her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta.

Wallentine, Josh_website

Josh Wallentine

I come to the Chamber from Washburn University in Topeka, KS. After my last courses are completed this summer, I will graduate with a major in public relations and minor in political science. The opportunity that the Chamber has given me to be their intern has been amazing. The staff members have been there for me every time I have a question or concern and I have had great mentors. Currently, my fiancée Madeline and I are planning our wedding which will take place next summer. After my internship, I hope to find a public relations or marketing career in the Wichita community.

Kali and I look forward to the rest of our time at the Chamber this summer and meeting Chamber members. So either drop by the communications department if you’re here for a meeting, or look for us at events and don’t hesitate to say hi.

Find both Kali and Josh’s contact info in the Chamber staff directory

Wichita’s new program may serve as a model for other communities

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Congratulations to the Wichita City Council for approving a new Voluntary Off-site Storm Water Quality Best Management Practice (BMP) Program at their June 10th meeting. The idea came from a collaborative effort involving the public and private sectors with much of the credit going to Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) and Chris Bohm (Ruggles & Bohm), who chairs the city’s Storm Water Advisory Board. A lot of credit also goes to City Manager Bob Layton and Public Works Director Alan King for working toward an innovative solution.

The Chamber’s environmental policy supports an effective and efficient regulatory structure so that existing business and industry are not unduly constrained or burdened so that the City can competitively attract new business and industry. The storm water management plan provides developers a new option regarding storm water quality regulations and will provide extensive savings from the current program. The off-site BMP program was supported by the Chamber’s Environmental Resources Committee, chaired by David Traster (Foulston Siefkin LLP).

This program will be the first of its kind in the United States and an opportunity to make Wichita unique in the market place. The program will provide significant costs savings for area developers, businesses and the city and county. It will make dramatic improvements to the quality of storm water flowing off sites in the agricultural community and could be a huge economic development consideration. We commend all of the partners – KDHE, K-State WRAPS, the EPA, the Storm Water Advisory Board and the City of Wichita – for working together and finding a solution that will ultimately provide great benefit to business owners and developers.

‘Check In’ to the political process

Zac Necci with the Wichita Thunder  (pictured left) visits with Damong Young from Mahaney Roofing (pictured right) following Young's presentation at today's Sunrise Scrambler.

Zac Necci with the Wichita Thunder (pictured left) visits with Damon Young from Mahaney Roofing (pictured right) following Young’s presentation at today’s Sunrise Scrambler.

It’s easy to become disillusioned and ‘check out’ of the political process. But Damon Young with Mahaney Roofing reminded today’s Sunrise Scrambler audience that we can’t afford to be disengaged if we expect to continue governing ourselves as a free people.

Young suggested working harder and digging deeper to understand the complex issues that our elected officials are dealing with at the local, state and federal level. He also provided eleven ideas for becoming an active part of the solution.

1) Mark the primary and general election dates on your calendar:
Tuesday, Aug. 2 and Tuesday, Nov. 8. Check the Sedgwick County Election Office calendar for more important election dates and remember that July 12 is the last day to register to vote in the August primary.

2) Register to vote. Make sure everyone in your household over 18 does the same. It’s easy to register on-line.

3) Read background material presented by both sides and seek objective opinions. Dig deep for answers to your questions.

4) Sign up for the Chamber’s digital newsletter called The Advocate for information about how your elected officials are dealing with issues that directly affect you and your business. Contact Nicole Robinson at 268-1116 with Membership Development to subscribe.

5) Check the Chamber’s website for a scorecard that is posted annually documenting how legislators voted on business-related issues.

6) Participate in discussion forums and ask questions. KMUW hosts a community public forum every month called EngageICT to present information from subject matter experts and lead discussions about how “what happens at the polls affects you.”

7) Attend Chamber events where members can meet elected officials, hear directly from them and ask them questions.

8) Attend candidate forums and interact directly with those who plan to represent you.

9) Join one of six Chamber Government Relations Public Policy Sub-Committees.

10) Find the time to volunteer for a candidate or a cause that you believe in. Many voters are influenced by their peers. Your passion and expertise may help swing more votes and inspire others to vote.

11) Vote! And then encourage others to do the same. Many voters are influenced by their peers. VOTE EARLY with an Advance Ballot or at an Advance Polling Place if you’ll be out of town on election day.

Check the photos from today’s event on our Facebook album. Our thanks to today’s Sunrise Scrambler sponsors, Emprise Bank and Burnell’s Fine Jewelry and Design.

Join us for our July 20 Sunrise Scrambler when Sarah Jane Crespo with KMUW – Wichita Public Radio will present her program titled, It’s All About the Story.

Active political engagement encouraged at Board of Advisors meeting

Damon Young is the 2016 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber PAC

Damon Young, the 2016 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber PAC, reminded attendees that their input and involvement are critical to the political process.

Involvement is imperative for creating and maintaining a business friendly environment. Today’s meeting of the Chamber’s Board of Advisors focused on activities undertaken in the last eight months to represent business interests to elected and government officials at the local, state and federal level. A recap video was shared with participants and Jason Watkins, the Chamber’s legislative consultant, reported on the 2016 Win/Loss report from the Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda.

Walter Berry, the 2016 Vice Chairman of Government Affairs, encouraged the Board to participate in one of six Government Relations Public Policy Sub-Committees. The committees meet no more than once a quarter and are chaired by volunteers who are subject matter experts.

A Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) update was provided by Damon Young (PAC Chairman), who reminded the group that the PAC is limited to state and local races/issues. Voters will be choosing elected officials for all 165 seats in the Kansas legislature and two on the Sedgwick County Commission this year. Young said the PAC will continue to be dedicated to honest dialogue among business owners, managers and community leaders about business issues and political candidates. He said, “We’re focused on free enterprise, finding the facts, and vetting good candidates.”

Participants offered their perspectives on a range of topics, including the Chamber’s position on nine Education and Workforce Development 2016 legislative agenda items. The Chamber was successful in advocating for exemption of K–12 from budget cuts during this year’s session. This was the only budget line item that received such protection and was considered an important Chamber WIN.

The need for Medicaid expansion, the importance of the state’s transportation budget, and the impact of air service on economic development efforts were also discussed during the meeting. Chamber President & CEO Gary Plummer closed the meeting by reminding attendees that the Chamber’s PAC provides important access and influence over issues that directly affect Chamber members and their companies/organizations.

Our thanks to today’s meeting sponsor, Wichita State University’s Office of Workforce, Professional and Community Education. Contact Jaime Dupy for more information about how to join the Board of Advisors.

Government Relations Public Policy Sub-Committees
(Sub-committees are open to all Chamber members. Those interested in serving should contact Barby Jobe at 268-1152 or Toni Porter at 268-1135.)
2016 Legislative Agenda Win/Loss Report
Video recap of recent Government Relations activities

Damon Young will be the featured speaker at tomorrow’s Sunrise Scrambler, where his topic is Political Engagement – Why Being Left or Right are Both Wrong if You Don’t Engage.

No Cure for Flag Fever

The Wichita Flag made a number of appearances in this year's River Festival parade, including this float by Professional Engineering Consultants.

The Wichita Flag made a number of appearances in this year’s River Festival parade, including this float by Professional Engineering Consultants.

It was 79 years ago tomorrow (National Flag Day) that our city’s flag was officially adopted. Elements of the flag were incorporated in this year’s River Festival buttons and in murals that were painted downtown this spring. It’s fairly commonplace to see several people wearing flag lapel pins at official community gatherings and you’ll find the flag waving in many neighborhoods these days. The flag even has its own social media accounts (@wichitaflag). But that hasn’t always been the case.

An article in the Lawrence Journal‐World (dated October 7, 2004), noted that while Wichita’s official city flag was ranked sixth among 150 flags in a 2004 North American Vexillological Association American City Flag survey, it wasn’t even being flown over City Hall at the time. A representative of local flag supplier Helgerson Co. stated in the article that the company had sold less than a dozen Wichita flags.

Over the years some local artists have shown their appreciation for the city’s timeless flag design by Wichitan Cecil B. McAllister. Artist Chris Gulick wrote about the flag in a local publication in 2003, and collaborated with others to raise awareness about it. At that time the flag was only flown a handful of places in Wichita and Gulick said he was told by officials, “People don’t understand it. They don’t know what it means.” Gulick had ornamental license plates printed with the flag, but said, “We couldn’t give them away.”

Fast forward to 2015. A resurgence of pride in Wichita started gaining momentum last year and our community’s unique flag became the logical rallying point. And in one short year, Wichita is raging with flag fever. Gulick commented about the recent “birth” rather than “resurgence” of interest in the Wichita flag during an interview with local radio station KMUW in December, 2015. He said, “It’s huge. It’s a rolling train and you’re not going to stop it now.”

During the last twelve months our flag has become a highly visible part of our city’s landscape thanks to so many Wichitans who are sharing their love for this community. It’s a symbol of our pride in the people, experiences and places that make Wichita special. Most importantly, it’s a tangible reminder that regardless of our differences, we are connected to each other and can move forward faster when we champion our community together.

–Looking for some flag swag to show your Wichita pride? Check out ilovewichita.org
–Wondering about the ten most popular #WichitaFlag images that have been posted in the last twelve months? Check the @WichitaFlag Instagram account.


Taking #ILoveWichita to another ‘level’

By Joshua Wallentine

Feeling inspired by the Post-It Wars on Canal Street, we decided to add some Wichita flare to the idea. Passerbyers can now see a large #ILoveWichita sign in the second-floor windows of the Chamber building. I cannot confirm nor deny that it can be seen from the space station, but you will just have to see it and judge for yourselves.

Staff with Sign

                             Chamber staffers love Wichita!


We encourage not only the people of Wichita to take selfies and photos with our signage, but we encourage our partners and members to do so as well. So when you are at Riverfest this weekend or attending a meeting here, snap a selfie and share it using #ILoveWichita! The sign will be up through July 21, which is Wichita’s 148th birthday.

Born in February 2015, the hashtag was intended to connect the community and to provide a way for people to collectively share what they love about Wichita. Now over a year later, there is an ILoveWichita.org site, and thanks to our sponsors FlipHound and Title Farm, there are 16 billboards across the city displaying images that have been posted on social media using the hashtag. Visit the website to learn how to join the movement.


On June 24, Young Professionals of Wichita will host their #ILoveWichita Final Friday Mingle. It starts at 6 p.m. at The Workroom and is a great opportunity for networking, music and food. At this event, YPW will reveal the winner of the #ILoveWichtia T-shirt Design Contest, which has been long anticipated.

So now that you know about the oversized hashtag in our lobby windows, don’t hesitate to take a photo with it. Everyone is doing it!

Joshua Wallentine is interning with the Communications and Investor Relations Department at the Chamber this summer. Wallentine is a student at Washburn University and will complete his degree in August.

Advocating for Wichita Business

A recap of the Chamber’s recent Government Relations activities

One of the Chamber’s four focus areas is advocating for responsible regulations and policies. Providing opportunities for the Wichita business community to connect and form relationships with our elected and government officials is an important part of that advocacy effort. You’ll find highlights below from four events the Chamber hosted over the last several weeks.

Washington D.C. Fly-In
Each year, the Chamber coordinates a Washington D.C. Fly-In, where members of the Wichita business community meet with the lawmakers who represent our state. This year’s three-day Washington Fly-In (May 17-19) included sixteen representatives from a diverse group of industries and interests providing input to elected officials and government staff about the challenges facing the region’s businesses.

The schedule included meetings at the Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and tours of the White House. Visits with each member of the Kansas Delegation included discussions about the importance of exporting Kansas wheat, cattle, aircraft and other products and services, as well trade issues, reauthorization of the FAA bill, healthcare legislation and the status of the Ozone Standards Implementation Act. The Department of Labor Overtime Rule changes were announced on the second day of the group’s visit to the nation’s capital and the implications to local businesses were part of every conversation with the Kansas delegation.

See a short video recap of the trip below.

Secretary Soave Visits Wichita
The Chamber co-hosted an after-work reception with the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio J. Soave on May 25. Soave was appointed to the position by Governor Sam Brownback late last year, and more than one hundred business leaders and elected officials turned out to hear his remarks about the business climate in Kansas. Find a more detailed recap of the event here.

Federal Forum with Senator Jerry Moran
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran made a stop in Wichita on June 1 to address 115 attendees at a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Wichita. The Senator spoke favorably about the people of Wichita and about his passion “to make things better for Kansas.” See a recap of the Senator’s main talking points here.

Legislative Dinner
The Chamber hosted an event in Wichita this week that provided Government Relations sponsors an opportunity to meet with elected officials over dinner to discuss the 2016 legislative session. More than 125 people attended the event and interacted with their representatives.

A more detailed recap of the Washington Fly-In trip and a wrap up of the 2016 legislative session appeared in the June 3 issue of The Advocate, a members-only digital newsletter focused on government relations issues. Please contact Cindy Todd at ctodd@wichitachamber.org if you are interested in subscribing to The Advocate.