Three years ago, the work of the Wichita Community Foundation changed forever. Our visionary board of directors shifted our work from transactional to transformational grant making. We spent a couple of years figuring out what that meant, and then James Chung came to town.
James and his team of researchers at Reach Advisors have been studying Wichita – and Wichitans – from every angle. The challenges he identified as necessary focus points for Wichita are perception, human capital, entrepreneurial, and business cycle.
Perception is the most elusive work. And the proverbial chicken-and-egg scenario is ever present. How do we attract the talent we need? How do we make sure that talent has the critical education and training? How do we encourage our entrepreneurs to grow, and ensure they see Wichita as a viable place to live?
But, without that talent here, how do we justify the money and energy to support, and grow, the quality of life components we have? The ChungReport.com, created by the Bastian family, is your connection to these questions, with intriguing potential solutions and insight into Wichitans who have the courage to ask hard questions and face these issues head on.
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Measurement of this challenge is also elusive. Every business person worth her salt knows what gets measured, gets done. Anecdotes and personal testimonies go a long way to tell the story, but how else can we quantify this work? That’s not a rhetorical question – email or call me if you have any ideas.
But it’s worth it. And we’ll figure it out. Project Wichita, recently launched, is an amazing example of collaboration with private business, the city, the county, non-profits – all people who care about Wichita and have a vested interest in our success as a community. There will be the naysayers, the people who refuse to see that our community is being left behind in the fight for talent, growth and a thriving economy. I’m convinced many of those people have never lived anywhere else. They don’t have a perspective of this gem that is our home.
Chung will be back in Wichita in late spring. Watch social media for details. Chung’s parting words during his last public presentations were that we are seeing growth and movement. But don’t let up off the gas. I’m in Wichita on purpose. I believe in the promise of what we have, the foundation of growth that is in place, and the vibrancy that is rumbling just under the surface.
If your perception of Wichita is negative, take a look in the mirror and see if you can really identify why. And if you can, do something about it. This is your home, too.
Shelly Prichard is president and CEO of the Wichita Community Foundation.