The Greater Wichita Partnership celebrated its one-year anniversary last week.
It is a significant milestone for an organization that has already brought positive change to our city and region. It is a significant milestone for an organization that will help lead the way toward even more progress.
The Partnership’s roots go back to 2012, when, thanks to the leadership of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, 100 businesses joined to promote economic development as a group called the Leadership Council.
The group identified six key areas related to economic development and evolved into the Greater Wichita Partnership to bring change in those six areas.
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It was a visionary step that showed a willingness among various stakeholders in the community to break down the silos and boundaries that often exist in economic and community development.
It brought together the missions of groups such as the Greater Wichita Economic Development Corp. and the Wichita Downtown Development Corp. under a united front of regional economic development.
The Partnership focuses on job creation, entrepreneurship, workforce development, community perceptions, talent acquisition and downtown development. Progress in those areas will bring more economic prosperity to our region.
Good things have happened in the last year, thanks, at least in part, to the Greater Wichita Partnership. Wichita has hosted a group of site selectors who work with companies looking to move or build new plants, and it has sent a delegation to promote our region to site selection companies based in Chicago.
The e2e Incubator — which fosters entrepreneurship — celebrated its grand opening in July and graduated its first class of six businesses in October.
A task force was formed to promote positive perceptions of Wichita and has held two events that allowed businesses and organizations to show how they are contributing to make Wichita a better place.
The Partnership has hired a talent specialist who will help recruit talent to the region and focus on workforce retraining efforts.
Jeff Fluhr, president of the Greater Wichita Partnership, said in a meeting with The Eagle’s editorial board last week that Wichita is well positioned for growth and the attraction of millennial talent. He noted, for instance, the draw of an affordable mid-tier city with momentum in downtown redevelopment.
“We are aggressively marketing Wichita and the region,” he said. “Now is the time.”
Brad Segal, president of Progressive Urban Management Associates in Denver, is working with the Partnership on strategies. Like Fluhr, he said Wichita is attractive to millennials looking to escape the expense and snarls of larger cities.
He described the unique “barbell” of downtown Wichita with Old Town on one end and the Delano District on the other, connected by Douglas. “You’ve got the bones, you’ve got the framework other cities don’t have,” he said.
The Greater Wichita Partnership has accomplished much in its first year. We look forward to celebrating more success stories in the months and years ahead.