When Suzy Finn returned to Wichita, she almost literally moved home.
Finn, newly named executive director of the Young Professionals of Wichita, moved from Washington, D.C., in 2009 to the Finn Lofts, south of Intrust Bank Arena. Until about seven years ago, the building housed the family wholesale distribution warehouse. It is now apartments.
So, Finn, 30, is acquainted with the things that cause young people to stay in or return to Wichita: family, low cost of living, a range of attractions – and a cool place to live.
Q. What’s the appeal of Young Professionals of Wichita?
A. If you are new to the city and you don’t know anybody, it’s a really good way to get to know people through the various events. If you’ve been here for a while and have a lot of friends, it’s a great way to meet new friends, and it’s also a good way to get into leadership development, either through our programming or by being a volunteer. … We also offer a professional development series where, for instance, we had a panel of managers where people were able to ask questions about management style and what advice they had, that sort of thing. And a third pillar is community service … for people who are really passionate but don’t know where to start, we have events that introduce people to the various nonprofits or to events people are already planning.
Q. Who is missing from YPW?
A. The creative community, the entrepreneurs, the people who aren’t at those major corporate investors. If they don’t know somebody who knows somebody who’s in it, they may not know about it. We don’t have a marketing budget, so it’s a little harder to get our name out to the community.
Q. How do you get people to stay, or move back to, Wichita?
A. You get a collective amount of voices who are saying in the community and to friends who live in other cities that Wichita is a great place to live, not just if you have family here, but because there is arts and culture. You have Final Fridays, there is First Fridays with the music, museums, restaurants, all at much more accessible prices than if you live in a big city.
Q. So, what does Wichita lack in appealing to young professionals?
A. In my opninon, it doesn’t lack that much. It’s just a matter of people have to go out and find it. It’s not necessarily so in your face that everybody knows what’s going on all the time. But there is plenty of things to do at night, whether you like live music, there are places in Old Town when you can find live music every night of the week.
Q. So you really moved in part because of the Finn Lofts?
A. I did. It was a little bit for the weirdness factor. A little bit because I knew the people who had the building. … And it’s cool. It’s got brick walls and I can say I live in the building where I probably did my first work, filing and cleaning the offices when I was a little kid. … You can still see some pieces of what was there, like the pillars where the guys used to play tic-tac-toe on. They didn’t paint over it.