Monteferrante says this unique experience will impact your life

Michael Monteferrante and Sal Giunta

We’re only a few weeks away from the Chamber’s November 29 Annual Meeting featuring Medal of Honor Recipient, former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta. Michael Monteferrante is the incoming Chairman of the Board for the Chamber as well as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Director at Envision, Inc. He was instrumental in securing Sal for the event. Monteferrante said, “Sal’s speech will be a goose bump experience that will impact your life. This is a rare opportunity to hear from such a decorated patriot.”

The Medal of Honor is awarded to the nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen by the President of the United States in the name of Congress. Sal received his medal in 2010 for bravery in battle during his second deployment to Afghanistan while serving as a rifle team leader in the Korengal Valley.

Jack Pulley, Fleet Sales Manager at Davis-Moore Auto Group, is also looking forward to Sal’s presentation, even though he’s already heard him speak on several occasions. “Sal is a true patriot. And this is the perfect occasion for Wichita to honor his bravery as we also welcome the KC-46 to McConnell Air Force Base and celebrate the launch of the Navy’s U.S.S. Wichita in early 2019. He’ll be a fabulous speaker and it will be a very patriotic evening.”

Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta

We hope you’ll join us on November 29 to thank Sal Giunta for his heroic actions and learn more about his determination to serve his country and his fellow soldiers. Please plan to bring members of your team, your clients and other business associates who will benefit from his presentation. Special student, military, and Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) ticketing pricing is available.

Our thanks to our many sponsors who have made it possible to bring Giunta to Wichita.
Presenting Sponsor:  INTRUST Bank
Premier Sponsors:  Cox Business, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. and Westar Energy
Platinum Sponsors:  Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Berry Companies, Black Hills Energy, Cargill Protein Group, Grant Thornton LLP, High Touch Technologies, Hyatt Regency Wichita, Meritrust Credit Union and RCB Bank
Print Sponsor:  Envision, Inc.
Gold Sponsors:  GLMV Architecture, Inc., Hutton, Lubrication Engineers, Inc., Occidental Management, Inc., and Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A.
Chairman’s Circle:  Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., Koch Industries, Inc., and Cox
Presidential Partners:  Textron Aviation, Inc., INTRUST Bank, and Fidelity Bank

Winners of the 3rd Annual Photo Contest Named

There were 250 entries in the 2018 contest.

Your Wichita flag was photographed in 30 states in the U.S.A. and in 25 different countries around the world during the third annual #wichitaflagsummertravelcontest. There were 250 entries using the hashtag between June 14 (National Flag Day) and August 17. That’s quite a jump up from the 173 contest entries in 2017 and the 52 entries in 2016.

Our city’s flag was photographed at events ranging for the World Cup Soccer Match in Russia to a soccer tourney in Colorado. And there were images submitted with well-known international landmarks ranging from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Great Wall of China and the Fierce Girl sculpture on New York’s Wall Street.

Wichita flag tats, stickers, glassware, patches, hats, luggage tags, headbands, jewelry, beach towels, magnets, cups and shirts made it into the entry images. This year more Wichita flag hand-painted rocks made the rounds than previous years with 15 photo entries—in 4 different countries and 4 different states.

More highlights:

-U.S.A. mainland entries ranged from as far north as Alaska to the country’s southernmost point in Key West, Florida.
-Wichita flag fans who reside in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Spain entered the contest.
-Colorado was the most photographed state with 37 entries, including the summit of 4  popular 14ers.

One of this year’s contest winners is Brian Alvarez who is a flag fan and a frequent traveler. Brian said, “It’s been so amazing traveling around and posing with the flag, while people come up and ask about it. Then it turns into questions about Wichita. It’s great to promote Wichita to the outer world. I’ve received messages from numerous people asking where they can buy a flag or the Wichita flag T-shirts I wear. It’s been great.”

So without further delay, here are your 2018 winners.

MOST LIKES – This pic of a miniature flag fan enjoying a Myrtle Beach vacation in South Carolina drew the most likes and was posted by @reneeb_10.

BEST BLACK & WHITE PHOTO – A unique image from @moderndayhobo at Chichen Itza was posted from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

BEST FAMILY PHOTO – The Grover family represented Wichita at Walt Disney World. They each wore a different flag-themed shirt from The Workroom. Entry by @katie_grover.MOST GIRL POWER – Two fearless girls in New York City were pictured in this popular entry from @paradocsbrewery.
ENTRIES FROM MOST LOCATIONS – Where’s Brian? Brian Alvarez covered the map this summer, posing with the flag in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the U.S.A. Check out his unique travel photos at @balvarez27.

MOST ATHLETIC – Running the Rocky Mountain 5K and a half marathon at Estes Park in two days was no problem for these flag fashionistas. Entry from @sara_salerno1213.

BEST FASHION STATEMENT – This image posted by @srains1 provided a new fashion accessory for a replica of Michelangelo’s David found in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy. 

BEST STAYCATION – The @delano_dollies submitted this entry, all while kicking up their heels and performing at Old Cowtown Museum.

MOST REMOTE LOCATION – Wake Island is one of the most remote islands in the world. It’s a coral atoll in the western Pacific Ocean primarily used for military aircraft refueling. This entry is from @ramblinmanjosh.

A special shout out to past Chamber Board President Debbie Gann for her family’s travel contest post from their trip to Alaska (below left) and to incoming Chamber Board President, Michael Monteferrante, for submitting an entry from Puerto Vallarta in Mexico (below right).

 

 

 

 

And thanks to all who spread flag fever this summer with their staycation and vacation photos. Check out other entries by searching #wichitaflagsummertravelcontest and keep tagging @wichitaflag with your social media posts.

Project Wichita Continues to Next Phase

By Bill Wood
Partner, Foulston & Siefkin
2018 Chairman of the Board of Directors, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Bill Wood leads the Chamber Board as Chairman in 2018.

Project Wichita is a community engagement process that is being utilized to identify the future we want for our region and the steps necessary to achieve it. The listening sessions and focus groups for the first phase of Project Wichita have concluded and the co-chairs for the initiative have reported that input was received from 239+ focus groups and 3,800+ participants, ranging in age from 9 to 90.

I’m pleased that our Chamber team initiated and led 9 focus groups with 274 participants as we sought responses from the Young Professionals of Wichita, Past Chairmen and Chairwomen of the Chamber, the Small Business Committee, our regional partners, the Board of Directors, our Board of Advisors and participants from our 2017 Diversity and Inclusion listening tour.

Project Wichita co-chairs have shared eight major topics that are on the minds of the community.

  • Downtown Area (Downtown development and innovation, Old Town, Delano and entertainment districts, retail shopping, etc.)
  • Riverfront (Create destination place for entertainment, leverage river as community destination, performing arts venue and conference/convention center)
  • Strong Neighborhoods and Communities (Affordable housing options, support unique and diverse neighborhood cultures, safety and infrastructure issues)
  • Cultural Arts and Attractions (Cultural investment in museums, art, entertainment and restaurants, natural attractions, festivals, diverse entertainment options)
  • Economic Opportunity (Industry diversity and balance, emphasis on technology, promote education hub, workforce development)
  • Transportation (Completion of Kellogg and regional expressways, enhanced/improved public transit, air serves and connections, passenger trains and bike/walking paths)
  • Education (K-12 improvement and investment, all levels of higher education and pathways, increased emphasis on STEM, establish goals for graduation and global preparedness)
  • Community Wellness (Mental health care, access to quality health care, care for aging populations and homelessness)

The next step in this process is underway. A digital survey launched on June 18. It will remain open through July 6. Your input is vital to this phase and we hope that you’ll share the link found on projectwichita.org with your colleagues and neighbors. The survey results will be used to develop an action plan focused on the next ten years.

As a member of the Project Wichita Visioning Team I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about any phase of the initiative. I welcome your input and I look forward to continuing to share more information with you during the process.

Envision’s New Workforce Innovation Center Will Accelerate Workforce Diversification

Michael Monteferrante is the President and CEO of Envision.

Where can people with disabilities learn the skills they need to find jobs in new and emerging industries? How can U.S. companies meet the growing demand for more skilled labor? Envision produced an important answer this week with the announcement of a new facility that will provide intensive training for people who are blind or visually impaired and then help place them into skilled positions around the country.

Locally-based Envision has been promoting advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision since 1933. Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante announced on Monday that the organization has hired an Executive Director, Mike May, to oversee Envision’s newest initiative, the BVI Workforce Innovation Center.

Jonathan Long is the Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement.

Jonathan Long, the Director of Community Advancement for the Chamber, applauded the new Center and the diversification it will bring to the local, regional and national workforce. Long said, “We’ll all benefit from the dedicated and highly qualified employees who will emerge from this program. They’ll enrich the work environment wherever they go.” Long has several years of employee recruitment experience for area businesses and also directs the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiative.

The Chamber commends the leadership demonstrated by this initiative and congratulates all those involved. Follow this link to learn more about the initiative from a recent Wichita Eagle story.

Schwindaman led with practicality, partnerships in 2017

Bill Wood will lead the Chamber Board as Chairman in 2018.

By William (Bill) Wood
Partner at Foulston Siekfin and
2018 Chamber Board Chairman

2017 was a game-changing year for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce by any measure, but adding the celebration of the Chamber’s 100 years of service to its members made it an amazing achievement – all conducted under the steady and forward-thinking leadership of 2017 Chamber Chair Scott Schwindaman.

More than fully occupied by his “day job” leading Lubrication Engineers and his “second job” as owner of Cowskin Creek Clydesdales, maybe Scott’s talent for fostering collaboration was honed by persuading 2000-pound horses to work together, all pulling in the same direction. Or maybe he’s just too busy to waste any time. Either way, Scott’s down-to-earth, practical approach has proven him a very effective leader who knows how to get things done in partnership with Chamber CEO Gary Plummer, the excellent Chamber staff, and our committed Chamber board.

Scott Schwindaman was  Chairman of the Chamber Board during our Centennial year in 2017.

Here are just a few of those things we can be thankful for:

  • In addition to the Chamber’s ongoing successful advocacy for our community’s business interests and continued membership growth, Scott’s tenure reflected measurable progress on the 2017 strategic priorities identified by the Chamber board and staff: education policy, diversity and inclusion, and quality of life.
  • In the education arena, the Chamber advocated for a new K-12 education funding formula and supported the Wichita State University and Wichita Area Technical College affiliation as part of the Chamber’s focus on building and retaining a skilled workforce.
  • To support diversity and inclusion, Scott’s Chairman’s Lunch highlighted the importance of this initiative from a number of different perspectives, and challenged attendees to find ways to contribute to the ongoing conversation. A series of listening tours identified how various Chamber members address diversity and inclusion in their organizations.
  • To enhance quality of life initiatives, the Chamber convened a new Quality of Place Task Force. This group, building on an ongoing pride-of-place movement demonstrated by the #ILoveWichita social media campaign and ever-growing crop of Wichita flags, supported riverfront development plans, including a new baseball stadium.

Visually represented by a new Chamber brand identity, the Chamber’s tremendous progress during 2017 builds momentum and serves as a critical foundation for the important work still ahead of us. Each Chamber chair stands on the shoulders of giants, and I am no exception. I thank Scott, Gary, and the Chamber board and staff for preparing us for further success in 2018, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve the Chamber’s mission.

New Angles from the Triangle

by Scott Schwindaman
2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce
CEO and President of Lubrication Engineers, Inc.

Note:  this post was originally published as an editorial in the Wichita Eagle.

Scott Schwindaman is the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Recently, more than 50 business and community leaders returned from the Triangle with new ideas and thoughts about how to further advance the Wichita region in many areas.

The Triangle refers to the area including Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina and was the site of our yearly City to City visit. Famous for its Research Triangle Park, one of the nation’s oldest most notable planned commercial developments for research and innovation, it has attracted thousands of jobs to the area since the 1960’s. Although the Research Triangle development is nearly built out, it’s obvious that the Triangle area is not resting on its laurels to further advance the area.

The Wichita group toured a variety of sites and learned from a number of speakers who shared the secret of the area’s sustained success through the 60 plus years of existence. Among the most popular spots with the group was the baseball stadium which is the relatively new home of the Durham Bulls, one of America’s most successful minor league franchises. We also saw firsthand the Centennial Campus at North Carolina State in the heart of Raleigh. This university is the inspiration for Wichita State’s Innovation Campus, and we were delighted to have WSU President John Bardo join us to explain how this campus was the vision for Wichita State in attracting and engaging business in a campus setting.

Many other areas are visited during these trips that are relevant to our community included entrepreneurship, education, economic development and quality of life. One of our more timely stops was at the Raleigh Convention Center, which stimulated a lot of conversation among the Wichitans who made the trip due to the current conversation in our community surrounding the direction forward with the Century II convention/performing arts area.

One of the great side effects of these city leadership visits is the opportunity to get to know other Wichita leaders on a more personal level. Our group this year was very diverse, including young professionals and leaders from throughout the Wichita regional area. That diversity made the Raleigh trip even more rewarding and should build a more cohesive regional leadership connection going forward.

The real test comes in what our “take-aways” are and what we’re able to execute at home from these annual trips. You can certainly point to a number of recent Wichita projects that resulted from these trips over the past 10 years, including the Downtown Master Plan (Oklahoma City, 2008 trip), our entrepreneurial resurgence (Omaha, 2012 and Austin, 2014), diversity/inclusion efforts (Greenville, SC 2015) and more.

I’m excited about what will come out of the Raleigh/Durham experience and encourage everyone who has participated in the past or this year to remain engaged to move our great city forward. If you have not had the opportunity to participate in one of these visits I encourage you to contact the Chamber as these visits will open your mind as to what can be done here at home.

#ILoveWichita Campaign Strengthened by Partners

Chamber Board member Ben Hutton leads the 2017 Quality of Place Initiative.

By Ben Hutton
Chamber Board Lead for the Quality of Place Initiative
Chairman and CEO of Hutton Construction

In early 2015, the Chamber initiated a very informal grassroots “pride in place” campaign centered around a hashtag proposed by the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), #ILoveWichita, and the city’s official flag. Collaborations with area businesses, media outlets, and other partners resulted in the creation of a positive platform and a microphone for those who believe in collaborating to create the best possible future for our region.

Shelly Prichard with the Wichita Community Foundation said, “Whether highlighting a person, place or activity, we use #ILoveWichita to promote all the unique happenings in our community. We’re proud to amplify the stories to both visitors and locals to encourage them to explore Wichita.”

The Quality of Place committee that I chair for the Chamber recently recommended leveraging this ongoing social media campaign in telling Wichita’s success stories and improving perceptions of the region’s quality of place. Implementing this recommendation included challenging our members to apply an #ILoveWichita decal to their front door to show community support and using the same hashtag in their company and personal social media postings.

Our Chamber Chairman and CEO Gary Plummer recently met with three of our partner organizations to invite them to participate and further strengthen the campaign. They’ve enthusiastically agreed to encourage their board members and investors to actively support the campaign.

My thanks to Shelly Prichard of the Wichita Community Foundation, Jeff Fluhr of the Greater Wichita Partnership, and Susie Santo of Visit Wichita who have committed to adopting and promoting this effort. All three are current members of the Chamber’s Board who already work diligently to ensure that Wichita is the best place to visit as well as grow a business, family and career.

Jeff Fluhr with the Greater Wichita Partnership recently applied the #ILoveWichita decal and said, “We are excited to be a partner with the Chamber in the Pride in Place Campaign. This is a dynamic time for Wichita and there is a noticeable increase in the community’s pride; we are a City of tremendous opportunities!”

We’ve also met with the current co-chairs of the Greater Wichita Partnership Perceptions Task Force (Jerry Jones, Moji Rosson and Laura Bernstorf) to brief them on our plans. We appreciate the dedication and spirit of collaboration of these three area leaders who are also supporting these efforts.

Since its inception, this campaign has been fueled by pride, passion and partnerships. The inclusion of these important organizations in our ongoing efforts will further energize and amplify the reach of the campaign and add new enthusiasm for highlighting what’s best about Wichita.

Join the effort! It’s easy for your business or organization to get involved, too. Simply contact Courtney Sendall at the Chamber (316-268-1153) to schedule a time to apply the #ILoveWichita decal to your door and begin implementing the hashtag in your social media postings. Together we can create a constantly updated digital brochure to share our passion for the region with each other, visitors to the area and other communities around the world.

See the Chamber Update page in today’s Wichita Eagle for a listing of some of the organizations and companies who have already applied the #ILoveWichita decal.

Chamber’s Inclusion Strategy Featured in Wichita Eagle Insert

2017 Chamber Chairman Scott Schwindaman provides an update on this year’s strategic priorities in our six-page quarterly insert that published today in The Wichita Eagle.

Our six-page newsletter is published quarterly in The Wichita Eagle to update the entire community about how we are fulfilling our mission and vision. The two front-page stories in today’s edition of the newspaper insert share information about our Diversity and Inclusion priority and how the Chamber is leveraging our regional strength to advocate for business in Topeka.

Be sure to pick up a copy of today’s insert so you’ll know–

  • Which 15 Chamber members to congratulate on their important milestones
  • Who will begin leading our Government Relations team on May 1
  • Which 31 new organizations we’ve welcomed to the Chamber since December
  • How your generous Centennial Campaign contributions are being used
  • Which Chamber Board members are leading each of our four strategic priorities
  • Who to congratulate on graduating from this year’s YPW Leadership Academy
  • How to register for April and May networking events

You may also read and share the insert by following this link to our website.

Contact us if you need additional printed copies of the insert for you team or for your recruitment materials. Our next insert publishes on Thursday, June 29.

Schwindaman Takes the Reins in 2017

In addition to his role as the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and President & CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc., Scott Schwindaman has a family-run operation that breeds, raises, and shows rare black Clydesdale horses. Photo credit: Brett Schauf with tjstudios.com

Scott Schwindaman has a family-run operation that breeds, raises, and shows rare black Clydesdale horses.
Photo credit: Brett Schauf with tjstudios.com

Scott Schwindaman, President & CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. is the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. He’s been involved in the Chamber ever since Gary Mason with iSi Environmental recommended that it would be the perfect place for him to channel his passion for improving the business climate in Wichita.

Shortly after becoming involved in the Chamber, Schwindaman participated in the Chamber’s annual Washington, DC Fly-in. His visit with the Kansas delegation and his conversations with Chamber leadership solidified his interest in contributing his talents and energy to Chamber programs and initiatives.

He’s serving as the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board during the organization’s centennial year and recently took the time to share his thoughts on the company he leads, what he likes about doing business in Wichita, and the Chamber’s 2017 strategic priorities.

Company background

What products and services does Lubrication Engineers provide?
We’re a high-performance lubricant manufacturer and service company, operating in 74 countries around the world. We help businesses improve their bottom lines by improving their uptime and efficiencies from an operational standpoint.

Where do you see Lubrication Engineers in five years?
We’ll continue to offer our customers high value products and services. And we’ll be growing at a rapid pace through new international and domestic joint ventures and some acquisitions.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your company?
I am highly committed to growing our company and taking care of our employees. I also enjoy this industry because of the things I get to see and experience. One day I could be standing on a NASA launch pad, and the next day I could be eating ice cream at the Häagen-Dazs factory. We supply lubricants to a vast array of companies and industries.

Describe your business’ most recent success.
We’ve undertaken a joint international venture with Kyodo Yushi USA to create a new company, Kyodo Yushi Manufacturing Americas, LLC. The new company will be located in the Wichita region and we anticipate that they’ll create five permanent jobs and up to 30 contract jobs.

To what do you attribute your growth and success?
Our success is 100% due to our commitment to customer service and satisfaction. Our ability to give our customers what they need, when they need it, is our highest priority.

What’s the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
It’s very easy to do business here. Many deals are still done on a handshake and a relationship. You don’t find that on the coasts.

When did you get started in the business world?
My first job was with Southwest Grease and Oil when I was 16 years old. At that time they had three plants and one of them was located where the Hyatt now stands. I started with Lubrication Engineers when I was in college as a lab tech. So I grew up in the business.

Thoughts on the Chamber

What one word best describes the Chamber?
Dynamic. I see a lot of things happenings in our community right now, and I feel that some of that positive movement can be attributed to the Chamber. One example is the work of the Leadership Council’s Entrepreneurship Task Force that was launched at the Chamber. There’s an excitement in the city that I haven’t sensed for a long time, and it’s because leaders are coming together to do things that benefit the community as a whole, and not just for their own financial gain. We’re united in expanding the opportunities for entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

Through my work as the co-chair of the Entrepreneurial Task Force, I’ve seen Startup Grind Wichita, e2e, 1 Million Cups ICT, the Chamber, Startup Wichita, MakeICT, GroundWork, SCORE, WSU MakerSpace, the Wichita office of the Small Business Administration, and so many others working in concert to connect entrepreneurs to the resources and expertise they need. And the visibility of the organizations supporting young entrepreneurs like DECA, Youth Entrepreneurs, Junior Achievement, and SocialPreneur has also increased dramatically.

How does this Chamber compare to other Chambers?
I travel around the U.S. quite a bit so I get to see how Chambers operate in other communities. We have a very strong Chamber and we should be proud of that. We’re looking forward to increasing our membership levels this year.

What is your favorite Chamber event, program, or service and why?
I always look forward to the Annual Meeting. This Chamber does a tremendous job of selecting and bringing high caliber speakers to Wichita. That’s not common in other communities. I really liked the new format we used in 2016. Moving from a formal sit-down dinner to an informal networking event generated a lot of positive feedback from our members.

What do you find most valuable about your Chamber membership?
One of the many lessons I learned from my father was that everyone has a civic duty to give back to their community. So for us, giving back to the community where our business is located and where our employees live is a priority. Being a member of the Chamber is one way to accomplish that.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly would you recommend Chamber membership to a colleague?
9 – The benefits are so huge for both small and large businesses. From political advocacy, to education, to networking and leads generation – the benefits far outweigh the cost of a membership.

What do you consider Wichita’s biggest challenge that the Chamber can influence?Diversity and inclusion. The Chamber Board and staff have four strategic priorities in 2017, but our ongoing work in attracting and retaining our region’s workforce will be much more focused on diversity and inclusion. A workforce that’s engaged, innovative and productive is vital. But intent doesn’t always equal impact. Leadership is key to making it happen. Every single business and organization needs to step up and become involved. During our February 7 Chairman’s Lunch we’ll be providing our members with some specific tactics they can use to work on this issue. Working on this issue together strengthens our community as a whole and makes our region a much more attractive place to grow companies, careers and communities.

Personal

What is something people may not know about you?
My family is one of the major Clydesdale horse breeders in the U.S. Our operation has 30 horses. We’re unique because we raise and work with black Clydesdales, which are a rare color for that breed. We travel around the country showing and selling them and participating in events. All three of my children are involved in the operation and we’ve really enjoyed becoming part of an international network that’s allowed us to meet so many interesting people and even some celebrities. What I originally thought would be a six-month stint as a short-term hobby for my children when they were youngsters has turned into a lifelong interest and commitment that involves our entire family.

How do your colleagues describe you?
I’ve been called the “niche master” because I love the challenge of finding solutions to problems other people describe as unsolvable. Saying something is impossible to fix always motivates me to tackle it. Whether it’s researching horse pedigrees for breeding programs or finding solutions for my customers, I really enjoy engineering a solution.

Favorite app?
I’m a Weather Channel junkie, so I’m always checking my app to see what the weather is like, both in Wichita and other places I visit.

Favorite business book?
Good to Great  by Jim Collins

Favorite meal?
Bite Me BBQ (located at 132 N. St Francis)

Wichita’s Entrepreneurial Opportunities Expanding

Scott Schwindaman is the President/CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. He will chair the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

Scott Schwindaman is the President/CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. He will chair the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

By Scott Schwindaman
President/CEO Lubrication Engineers, Inc.
Chair Elect of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber’s current Chairman, Barry Schwan, recently wrote a column for the Wichita Eagle and the Chamber’s blog about the renewal of Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit. As Barry noted, I helped initiate and have co-chaired the Entrepreneurship Task Force (ETF) with fellow Chamber board member Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) since it started several years ago.

Two organizations, of many, critical to the success of the entrepreneurial ecosystem are the Chamber and the e2e Accelerator, an initiative of the ETF focused on activating, accelerating and mentoring entrepreneurs. I’m pleased to see a developing partnership between the Chamber and e2e that will provide multiple opportunities to highlight entrepreneurship at some upcoming events.

I’d like to encourage you to circle a few dates on your calendar where you can learn more about some of these new opportunities and connect with the people leading them.

September 29 – Innovators can make valuable connections at the Chamber’s annual business-to-business trade show, Exposure, this Thursday. More than 200 businesses will be exhibiting, including many of the ETF liaison organizations. Representatives of the newly launched e2e accelerator will staff a booth to answer questions about how to apply for their unique mentoring program and to provide details about the upcoming Accelerate the Heartland event. Connecting with the Small Business Administration representatives should also be a priority for those who want to learn more about their successful Emerging Leaders program and their range of lending options. Wichita State University’s Kansas Small Business Development Center will staff a booth to share information about their free consulting services and upcoming educational offerings.

October 5 – Formerly known as the Great Plains Capital Conference, the renamed Accelerate the Heartland event offers a full day focused on jumpstarting Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with opportunities to learn, share and network. The conference will include entrepreneurs, service providers, government, universities, mentors, investors and others who want to be part of moving new ideas, products and services forward.

December 1 – We’ll be learning from the best when internationally renowned entrepreneur and investor Daymond John takes to the stage for the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. After sharing some of his thoughts about how to position and brand new products and services, John will interact onstage with local entrepreneurs and other area leaders who are fostering and mentoring new startups.

There’s been a tremendous groundswell in the number of opportunities for area entrepreneurs to connect with the people and resources they need to succeed. And it’s been rewarding to see so many organizations developing, supporting and promoting these opportunities together. I encourage you to be part of this movement. As the current chair of the Young Professionals of Wichita, Sam Foreman, so eloquently said earlier this year, our goal is to “shorten the distance from Dream to Done.” It’s all about creating new opportunities and transforming Wichita into the “Opportunity Capital.”