Carrie Rengers

Charles Koch to be featured speaker at annual Chamber meeting (+video)

VIDEO: Charles Koch is Chamber's annual dinner speaker

Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce chairman Jon Rosell on what it means to have Charles Koch be the speaker for this year's Chamber annual meeting. (Carrie Rengers/The Wichita Eagle)
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Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce chairman Jon Rosell on what it means to have Charles Koch be the speaker for this year's Chamber annual meeting. (Carrie Rengers/The Wichita Eagle)

This year’s speaker for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner is an internationally known billionaire businessman who also happens to be a hometown Wichita guy.

That narrows it to two people. Final hint: He’s not best friends with Donald Trump.

Charles Koch, not the other billionaire hometown son Phil Ruffin, will be the featured speaker for the Nov. 2 meeting at Century II.

“It’s a great evening of insight and knowledge of one of the world’s most successful businessmen,” Chamber chairman Jon Rosell says of the chairman and CEO of Wichita-based Koch Industries. “We thought what a great opportunity to learn from, clearly, a proven leader.”

A nationally known moderator, who will be announced later, also will be on stage to interview Koch.

Though Koch is known for libertarian views and his sometimes controversial support of the tea party movement, Rosell says the evening will be about business, not politics.

“He has, certainly, strong opinions on the political front,” Rosell says. However, he says, “Our primary focus is how can we listen and learn from his successes and transfer them to our own community?”

The chamber often selects political speakers for its annual meeting. That includes former President George H.W. Bush, who spoke in 2005; former President George W. Bush, who spoke in 2011; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spoke last year; and political strategists and husband and wife James Carville and Mary Matalin, who spoke together in 2006.

Occasionally there are nonpolitical speakers, such as in 2013 when Gallup chairman and CEO Jim Clifton spoke and 2008 when historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was the speaker.

Rosell says the timing of Koch’s talk is especially great since it will come less than a month after the Oct. 13 publication of his second book, “Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies.”

Capacity for the Chamber program, which follows a dinner, is 4,800 people. For ticket details, go to www.wichitachamber.org/AnnualMeeting.

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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