Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

3Jan - by The Chung Report - 0 - In Uncategorized


Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

2018 was the turning point between settling for where we are now and pushing forever forward to the city we all know we can become.

As The Chung Report enters its third year of uncovering and exploring stories related to the four challenges confronting the long-term economic prosperity of the Wichita region, it’s an important time to reflect on the progress Wichita has made and examine any shortcomings that should be addressed going forward.

In 2015, Reach Advisors analyst James Chung gave us the diagnosis — the deep, underlying roots of our problems as a city. In 2016, we started treatment. The momentum of that treatment carried us through 2017 with big milestones, including the revitalization of downtown ahead of hosting first and second round sessions of 2018’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

While these accomplishments were certainly good, the reality is they weren’t enough to adequately address our four challenges. Worse yet, many residents fell into complacency believing our city could coast into the future. We took our guard down, and we lost sight of where we truly wanted to go.

In 2018, James Chung noted this and pointed out that Wichita is far from fixed.

"The most dangerous strategy, or position, we could take is status quo," Chung said in his 2018 Focus Forward presentation. "The market has clearly spoken. … How we operate this city does not work economically. It’s crystal clear."

If 2015 was a diagnosis, 2016 was the start of treatment and 2017 was the momentum forward, then 2018 was the turning point where we chose between settling for where we are now and pushing forever forward to the city we know we can become.

Did we make the right choice? The year had its fair share of encouraging developments, as well as reminders that Wichita is still struggling. So now we reflect on the push and pull of our progress, challenge by challenge, to steel ourselves for a new year of work.


BUSINESS CYCLE

The business cycle challenge is seen in the numbers — how much our GDP grows, how many companies are here and how many good-paying jobs are filled and available.

Chung’s data shows that Wichita is in a zero-growth economy and has been since the recession. The growth we’ve all perceived since 2010 hasn’t even kept up with inflation, meaning Wichita lost ground to cities that simply kept the status quo.

Here are some stories that sum up Wichita’s business cycle challenge in 2018:

1) Wichita economy shrinks, while other Kansas cities grow

Federal gross domestic product (GDP) data released in September confirmed that Wichita’s economy shrank by 1.4 percent despite growth experienced in Kansas City, Lawrence, Manhattan and Topeka.

Read the Wichita Eagle’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA EAGLE

2) Wichita re-evaluating economic development strategy

The Greater Wichita Partnership hired Atlanta-based economic development firm, Market Street Services, to help develop a new economic strategy for Wichita, including which industry clusters should be sought after. The results from this research haven’t been shared yet.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: MARKET STREET SERVICES

3) March Madness provides increase in Wichita exposure, but not in Intrust Bank Arena profit

Despite successfully holding several NCAA men’s basketball tournament games, Intrust Bank Arena’s profits are down 20 percent for 2018. Concert activity, the most profitable events for the arena, was down this year.

Read the Wichita Eagle’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA EAGLE

4) Soon after moving into new headquarters, Cargill is already eying expansion

Cargill completed construction of its $70 million downtown headquarters in Old Town, and the company is already eyeing future expansions. About 800 employees work out of the new headquarters on Douglas, which was designed to help grow the local talent pool, as well as the Cargill Protein business.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: CARGILL

5) Wichita job market projected to continue to grow

With an increased investment from companies like Spirit Aerosystems, Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research is projecting 2,500 new jobs to be added to the Wichita economy, or a 0.8 percent increase. Kansas City is expected to grow its jobs by 1.4 percent.

Read the Wichita Eagle’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA EAGLE

HUMAN CAPITAL

The human capital challenge is all about the transfer of people — and the cost to our economy if more transfer out than transfer in.

Unfortunately, Wichita has had the raw end of the deal for a long time. Chung’s latest data found that Wichita lost a net of 18,452 people. At the same time, peer cities Des Moines and Oklahoma City gained 32,000 and 52,000, respectively.

Here are some stories that sum up Wichita’s human capital challenge in 2018:

1) Horizontes project re-defines north Wichita

The walls that have long separated the mostly African-American and Latino communities of northern Wichita are being brought down by art and community engagement through the Horizontes Project, anchored by a high profile, record-setting grain-elevator mural. Celebrating diversity and engagement across cultural and societal boundaries can have a major impact on ensuring everyone across our city feels welcomed.

Read the Wichita Eagle’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA EAGLE

2) Wichita focuses talent search on select U.S. metros

The Greater Wichita Partnership, with help from marketing consultants, has identified four key metros as potential areas from which Wichita could pull talent. They are Los Angeles, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Dallas/Fort Worth.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA BUSINESS JOURNAL

3) Wichita Promise Move launches to bring new talent into Wichita tuition-free

Dozens of new people have been brought into Wichita thanks to a WSU Tech program designed to bolster Wichita’s talent ecosystem while providing free tuition and relocation expenses to eligible students.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: WSU TECH

4) Kansas companies left off of Forbes list of best employers for women

As educated women and minorities disproportionately leave Wichita for other cities, Kansas companies are completely left off Forbes’ list of top 300 employers for women in the United States. Companies in Des Moines, Kansas City, Mo., and Chattanooga were all on the list.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA BUSINESS JOURNAL

5) Advanced Learning Library attracts digital literacy grant from Google

Google granted Wichita’s Advanced Learning Library $100,000 to help expand the library’s digital literacy and skills training offerings. The money will largely go toward offering free trainings on vital digital skills for job seekers, small-business owners and educators.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA BUSINESS JOURNAL

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Entrepreneurship has seen a lot of movement in Wichita since James’ first presentation in 2015. Startup hype that simply wasn’t there before is now seemingly everywhere.

While we have seen more than a few wins come out of this hype, we’ve yet to see as much institutional investment as our peer cities. In the past two years, Wichita has seen five tracked venture capital deals worth a total of $5.4 million. Omaha had 15 tracked deals worth $20.8 million, and Des Moines had 23 tracked deals worth $130 million.

Here are some stories that sum up Wichita’s entrepreneurship challenge in 2018:

1) e2e Accelerator continues under new management

After two years of helping Wichita entrepreneurs gain a foothold in their business, the reins of the e2e Accelerator have been handed over to Koch Industries Disruptive Technologies alum, Josh Oeding.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA BUSINESS JOURNAL

2) Wichita-based AI software company wins big at national tech conference

Wichita-based AI software company Alyss Analytics was awarded $120,000 in June at a national pitch competition in Lincoln, Nebraska. The company uses artificial intelligence to assess talent on soft skills and intangible traits employers can’t get from a paper résumé.

Read the press release.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: ALYSS ANALYTICS

3) Wichita-based Callcap acquired for $35 million

Callcap, which was founded in 2002 to perform call monitoring and analytics, was acquired this year for $35 million by Seattle-based Marchex, Inc. The sale marks a significant value transaction that could contribute to future startup investment in Wichita.

Read Seeking Alpha’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: CALLCAP

4) Wichita-based Lawn Buddy honored as one of the world’s top startups

Lawn Buddy was selected by Startup Grind’s Global Startup Program as one of the world’s top 300 startups. The lawn care software company was selected out of more than 36,000 applicants and will be an exhibitor in February at Startup Grind’s global conference in Silicon Valley.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: WICHITA BUSINESS JOURNAL

5) LaunchPrep announces its next class of Wichita startups

LaunchPrep guided six more startups through its program in 2018, including Colborn Media, Lion Graph, Eck Fabrication, Heartland Heritage, Home Labor Pros and Mobile Car Tune.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: LAUNCHPREP

PERCEPTION

Perception is not only how visitors view our city but also about the views we hold about ourselves — the businesses, people and institutions that make this city tick.

Chung’s research pointed to an increased willingness to live in Wichita, as well as an increase in optimism for the future. However, Wichitans still hold damaging views and attitudes against those outside the majority, and even against institutions like higher education.

Here are some stories that sum up Wichita’s perception challenge in 2018:

1) BlackoutICT spurs action for Wichita’s future

Following James Chung’s June presentation, many were left wondering what could be done about the future of Wichita. Together with The Chung Report, Janelle King, owner of the Workroom, launched a movement designed to get everyday Wichitans pledging action to move our city forward, resulting in close to 800 participants.

Read KSN’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: BlACKOUT ICT

2) Wichita announces plans for $60 million baseball stadium

Wichita could be seeing a top-tier minor league team return to the city for the first time in over 30 years due to a $60 million baseball stadium and "village" built in place of the historic Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Delano.

Read KMUW’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: KMUW

3) Project Wichita completes survey for a 10-year regional action plan

Nearly 14,000 people from the Wichita region participated in the Project Wichita survey, which conducted research into how our community views itself and its path forward. The end goal would be to complete a 10-year regional action plan with concrete steps forward.

View the survey findings.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: PROJECT WICHITA

4) Open Streets expands to bring 40,000 to the streets of downtown

The first Open Streets event, in 2017, brought 20,000 people to downtown Wichita for shopping, eating and walking through the closed-down Douglas Avenue. In 2018, about 40,000 met in the streets of downtown to continue and expand the new tradition.

Read the Wichita Business Journal’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: CITY OF WICHITA

5) Douglas Design District businesses at odds over beautification project

A potential business improvement district could help Wichita’s Douglas Design District complete a beautification project that has been long in the making. Some businesses are against it, however, while others see it as fundamental for the future of the district. A planning committee approved by Wichita’s City Council will further explore the possibility of a business improvement district.

Read the Wichita Eagle’s coverage.

Wichita 2018: The Turning Point

PHOTO CREDIT: THE WICHITA EAGLE


We’ve faced a lot of ups and downs in 2018 — from feeling like Wichita was regaining its mojo to facing the truth of Wichita’s continued stagnation. It was a year of critical assessment and examination — not only of our city but of our willingness to press forward despite the letdowns.

This year, we have the opportunity to squash complacency and make a resolution to take this journey seriously — to challenge the status quo and the people and ideas that represent it.

What will you do to move us forward?

NEXT STEPS:


Learn more about the Four Challenges


Learn more about the Entrepreneurship Challenge


Thoughts, suggestions or comments? Check us out on social media or send us a message




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