The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce on Thursday marked its 100th year as an organization and the completion of renovations to its downtown headquarters.
Chamber officials estimated about 100 people attended the 30-minute, wind-whipped ceremony outside its two-story, 15,000-square-foot building that was attended by local government leaders, business executives and current and former chamber staff.
Among the event’s speakers were Dave Unruh, Sedgwick County Commission chairman, who noted the chamber’s past successes in assisting with the Kansas Affordable Airfares program, the development of the National Center for Aviation Training and decades of direct involvement in the metro area’s economic development, including its role in the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, now the Greater Wichita Partnership.
Unruh said the chamber is a leader in uniting the community.
“They bring us together on different occasions to find out who we are,” he said, which “helps develop a community character … a community personality.”
The event also gave chamber officials the chance to show off renovations to its 45-year-old building, which included the addition of a 24-person conference room, updates to the building’s flooring, ceilings and lighting as well as a new roof and boiler unit.
Jaime Dupy, director of the chamber’s marketing, communications and investor relations, said the renovations were the most extensive ones made to the building since the addition of a wing in 1988.
The renovations were paid for by the Centennial Celebration capital campaign begun in December 2016 that raised more than $700,000, surpassing its $650,000 goal. Intrust Bank was the lead donor in the campaign, contributing $100,000.
GLMV Architecture and Hutton Construction led the roughly six-month-long renovation project.
Proceeds from the campaign also were used to launch two new initiatives for the chamber: an education policy focused on funding K-12 education and an effort to foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce.