Driving in Wichita has become a safari of construction equipment, road crews and traffic cones. Everywhere you look, infrastructure work is underway, new buildings are being erected and old buildings are being renovated. Our skyline is rapidly evolving.
Change can be difficult, but it’s essential and often positive. As we look at what it means to be a thriving city in a brand new age of possibility, we have to take with it a certain degree of acceptance and excitement that we’re going to experience collective growing pains.
For some, including myself, it’s the knowledge that sometimes our commute will take a bit longer as our city crews work on our streets, safeguarding our infrastructure. For others, it may mean accepting that nostalgia must make way for progress.
While the council and I help guide our city, it’s average individuals and small business owners who are contributing to its growth. From the large apartment or hotel projects downtown to community gardens, unique retailers or independent breweries adding to our crucial quality of place, we all have a part in changing our community. Local pride shines from every street corner thanks to local artist and the relentless positivity of community supporters.
The city council and I are tasked with helping to guide Wichita toward fulfilling its vast potential. We’re faced with decisions every day that challenge us to look at the future of our community and find a solution which will help us become the city we’re meant to be. We do this not in a vacuum, but with intensive research from industry experts to help best inform our decisions.
But now more than ever, we’re also hearing feedback from average individuals that helps guide us. Whether through email, social media or in person, these comments show us that people are passionate about making our city the best it can be.
In the coming years, we’re going to continue our growth pattern, and we need passionate individuals supporting and expanding upon our efforts.
In my speaking engagements, I tell community groups that we need to push forward. And that message still stands. I also challenge us to change the way we think about our community. We are not a small town. We are one of the 50 largest cities in America.
In 2017, we added hundreds of jobs to our city, and we’re going to add more. Wichita is open for business and the country, the world is taking note.
We can’t be complacent in our comfort. We must reconcile our vibrant history with a limitless future. Let’s shed the stigma of what we have been and embrace the vibrant mantle of what we’re becoming.
Jeff Longwell is mayor of Wichita.