Ian Worrell: What doesn’t Wichita have to offer young professionals?

03/01/2014 9:20 AM

03/02/2014 7:59 AM

Nearly 10 years ago, in fall 2004, Visioneering Wichita completed a study that determined each young adult raised in Wichita who moves away from Wichita results in a lost investment of $300,000. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that figure has grown since the Visioneering study.

The issue is nothing new. Ready to start the next chapter of their lives, those who grew up in Wichita and the surrounding communities or attended one of the local universities are inclined to look elsewhere.

What does Wichita have to offer to make them stay? The sentiment often expressed is that there is nothing to do in Wichita. Perceptions are that bigger cities have better entertainment, better career opportunities and better quality of life.

But what doesn’t Wichita have to offer?

It doesn’t take much effort to uncover the rich culture, worthwhile experiences and opportunities found in and around Wichita. Ultimately, the more one looks, the more likely one is to find there can overwhelmingly be too much to choose from in Wichita.

When Wichitans are asked what they find attractive about this community, one often hears about the appeal of its big-city amenities while maintaining a small-town charm. Wichita offers a relatively low cost of living and a reasonable commute. In addition, Wichita and the surrounding communities provide a comfortable environment in which to raise a family.

These answers may not be sexy, but they should not be taken for granted. More importantly, they provide a solid foundation on which a young professional can build a successful career and future.

Two words that describe the greater Wichita community now are opportunity and energy.

Websites like www.LaunchWichita.com provide college students a way to connect to career opportunities in the city. And the big city/small town aspect of this community provides opportunities for young professionals to connect and collaborate with government and community leaders.

These opportunities are amplified by the urgency behind efforts to revitalize Wichita’s community and economy. Area leadership recognizes the need to include young professionals in the discussion about the future of Wichita, offering a unique opportunity to directly affect and take ownership in the community.

The initiative being taken in efforts has also led to a new energy throughout the community. The development in downtown Wichita as well as that taking place in surrounding communities provides for excitement and anticipation.

One of the easiest ways get plugged in to the community is through Wichita’s young professional organizations, such as the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), United Way Young Leaders Association and Red Shoe Society, to name a few. Whether one is interested in networking, professional development, volunteering or simply socializing, these organizations provide fun and unique experiences involving a diverse group of people.

There is a growing movement of talented, motivated and passionate young professionals committed to taking the greater Wichita community to new heights. These dedicated young professionals recognize the value of this community and are willing to put in the time and hard work necessary to ensure the greater Wichita area remains a competitive and viable community.

Rather than taking the easy way out and moving to a place where the grass appears to be greener, we want to make Wichita our home. When it comes to the topic of what Wichita has to offer, the issue is not whether there is anything to do, but rather how involved we choose to be.

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