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Debbie Gann: Local action needed to win the global jobs war

  • Published Sunday, Sep. 29, 2013, at 12 a.m.

In his best-selling book, “The Coming Jobs War,” Gallup CEO and chairman Jim Clifton reminds us that the phrase “everything is local” is truer regarding job creation than anything else. Clifton writes, “You have to jump-start your city yourself.”

He maintains: “Leaders of countries and cities must make creating good jobs their No. 1 mission and primary purpose. The jobs war is what should get city leaders up in the morning, what they should work on all day, and what should keep them from getting to sleep at night.”

Clifton’s message about not depending on Washington, D.C., leadership to create local jobs has resonated with area leaders. More than 170 investors have pledged more than $9 million during the next five years as part of a recent Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce campaign to fund local solutions.

The chamber’s leadership council was formed to further demonstrate the community’s commitment to job creation. This think tank of 100 top business, nonprofit and public-sector CEOs has identified the three most important priorities for advancing Wichita’s competitiveness in the global jobs war:

•  Increasing primary jobs (those that bring new revenue into our area by producing goods and services in excess of what can be consumed in the local marketplace).

•  Diversification through entrepreneurship.

•  Enhancing educational attainment and workforce development.

Wichita has a unique opportunity to hear Clifton personally deliver his message on Nov. 5. He will be the featured speaker at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting. This event is an important step in further engaging our community in the development of a battle to retain and grow jobs.

Clifton often cites community disengagement as one of the key destroyers of cities and job growth. “All businesses and local institutions of absolutely every kind must be on the same page,” he said. “Meanwhile, the whole city has to be participating, highly coordinated, and working out of the same playbook to win.”

Wichita has pulled together to resolve job loss issues in the past. This community is resilient, resourceful and responsive to change. Our local leadership has demonstrated commitment to local action.

We look forward to Clifton’s global insight to help us further define our strategy for winning the jobs war. We hope that entrepreneurs, innovators, community volunteers, educators and business leaders will join us and attend. We need to increase the size of our engaged army, accelerate our momentum, and further develop our local battle plan for winning the global jobs war.

Debbie Gann is chairwoman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and is a vice president at Spirit AeroSystems.

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