Wichita has long struggled with low self-esteem and negativity. Not only has this made it difficult to retain young talent – as an article in the Sunday Eagle highlighted – it undermines Wichita’s ability to attract potential investors and employers.
But there are reasons to be optimistic about Wichita’s pessimism.
For starters, more people are acknowledging the problem and actively addressing it.
After analyst James Chung raised concerns last year, many people in the community have been working to change citizens’ perceptions of their hometown. They’ve emphasized the importance of speaking more positively.
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The good news is that there are plenty of good things to say about our city and region. Besides the important but not-that-exciting virtues of low cost of living, easy commutes and good schools, Wichita is becoming more dynamic.
Downtown is now a hot spot in which to live and work – a key to attracting and retaining young professionals. The art scene also is growing, as is Wichita’s reputation as a good place for high-tech startups.
There are also plenty of visible signs of progress and improvement, including the new airport, new schools and the work on the Kellogg and I-235 interchange. Soon there will be a state-of-the-art new central library.
Wichita’s self-image also is affected by its economic struggles and layoffs. But the Greater Wichita Partnership, Wichita State University, and improved regional economic cooperation are helping address this challenge. Cargill’s recent decision to build a new headquarters in Wichita was an important boost to the city’s confidence.
These and other efforts have gotten the attention of Chung. “I’m actually feeling pretty good that Wichita can get through this,” he said.
Wichitans should feel positive, too.