BOA official points out Wichita's importance

The chief investment officer for Bank of America's U.S. Trust unit said Wichita has a "great, strategic importance" to the U.S. economy, probably more than most people here realize.

"From a business and industry perspective, I'm leaving here knowing full well that it's more important than I think those who are in this community know," Chris Hyzy said.

Hyzy was in Wichita for a daylong visit Thursday, meeting with, among others, business leaders who are also U.S. Trust clients.

It was Hyzy's first trip to Wichita since being named U.S. Trust's CIO in 2007. He said he's trying to visit every market served by the firm, which is the private-wealth-management arm of the nation's biggest bank.

Hyzy said what he also learned was that some of his firm's research is proving true.

"It certainly helps us see whether or not the macro research we are doing is actually starting to come down through the grassroots level," he said. "Are businesses starting to hire? Well, we may see it in our indicators at the macro level but there's always a lag. What we want to make sure is that this is happening at the grassroots level."

He said that from Wichita's perspective, he's seeing some positive, early indicators.

"Certainly hiring is coming," Hyzy said. "There are many industries throughout Kansas and here in Wichita as well that lend themselves to the areas we feel very comfortable about as it relates to the economic cycle, the guts of the economy — the manufacturing side, the natural resources side, the energy side.

"Those are all areas that are starting to improve and recover and should help us lead this recovery. I will be heading back to New York later today feeling that things are improving."

He said the most common question he was asked by Wichita clients Thursday was what the biggest risk is today for investors.

"The answer is we have the largest laundry list of known risks that I have built in almost 20 years," he said.

But, unlike this most recent recession, that's a good thing.

"If there are so many and they are so visible, oftentimes the end result is not as scary as the risk itself," Hyzy said.