With the formation of Greater Wichita Partnership, we have begun a new approach to creating jobs and diversifying our economy. In some ways, it’s a major overhaul. In others, it brings existing efforts together to leverage them more effectively.
This is not change for change’s sake, but a more comprehensive, collaborative, regional approach to growing jobs in our community. We have already begun including additional communities along with partnering with existing groups that share in our mission of economic development. Collaboration will require us to be more inclusive and less territorial, as we develop strategies aligned with a more regional focus.
The Wichita State University Innovation Campus, the Blueprint for Regional Economic Growth and an export plan developed by Kansas Global Trade Services will be key focus areas as we bring partners and new communities together in a more diversified strategy. Aviation will remain our bedrock industry. But we are going “back to the future.”
We are working to reclaim the entrepreneurial spirit that defined our community and helped create homegrown companies that today provide services globally. We want to help create more success stories. One goal is to capitalize on industry clusters to create better results.
One thing that will not change is the value of our workforce that inspires our mission. Wichita workers are a competitive advantage, the best in the world. They allow us to compete around the world. Other key advantages are affordable housing, quality of life, and being situated in the heart of America with the ability to move goods anywhere in the world. We have many more strengths.
We need to promote our strengths better as we wean ourselves off tools we have overused in our well-intentioned attempts to attract new jobs and companies.
We should be more vocal about sharing the virtues of our community that already enable companies to be successful here. We need to recognize our great corporate citizens and share the value they bring to our region. We need to celebrate the fact that our community is home to some of the largest privately held companies in the world, and some very strong public companies as well. These companies make Wichita home, because it’s a great place to run a business, raise families and enjoy an outstanding quality of life.
It’s our hope that with this new approach, by working together with a more inclusive and regional focus, we will create better results and a better future in a great city that we have the pleasure and privilege to call home.
Jeff Longwell is mayor of Wichita.