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Economic Development Feasibility Analysis

Posted by: Gary Plummer on Thursday, February 27, 2014
Gary Plummer Gary Plummer At its first meeting more than a year ago, the Leadership Council chose Growing Primary Jobs as its top priority along with two other priorities:  1) Diversification through Entrepreneurship and 2) Enhance Educational Attainment and Workforce Development. Of course, growth in primary jobs is also one of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce’s top priorities. (Primary jobs are defined as those that produce goods and services primarily sold outside the community, bringing payroll and wealth into a community.) Managed by the Chamber, the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition’s (GWEDC) mission is to expand Greater Wichita’s regional economy through aggressive business retention, expansion and recruitment activities. The Chamber’s Leadership Council, a think tank of 100 top business, non-profit, and public-sector CEO’s, asked GWEDC and the Chamber what it needed to be able to double our competitiveness in this area of local business expansions here and capturing expansion projects. Business leadership identified four issues:
  • Diversification
  • Real estate solutions
  • Telling our story
  • Incentives
During last week’s GWEDC Annual Meeting, GWEDC Chairman Steve Sharp outlined the integrated plan developed to begin addressing the first three areas identified. The Chamber’s Leadership Council has taken the lead on the vital discussion of how to become more competitive in the area of incentives. As part of that process, the Leadership Council asked the Chamber to lead a feasibility process on how to best fund more competitive incentives. To assist with that effort, the Chamber has engaged Jim East, a government relations consultant who lives in Tulsa and has extensive policy experience. East will provide additional due diligence on this issue for the business community. He will also work with the Chamber on behalf of the Leadership Council to help understand and evaluate policy issues facing the community, including jobs, and their potential funding plans. Jim has extensive experience helping municipalities, counties, businesses, foundations and nonprofits shape policy and explore funding alternatives for communities. We know that jobs are on the minds of most Americans. The latest Gallup poll shows that Americans believe that the most important problem facing this country today is unemployment/jobs. Locally, the City has gathered feedback from 102 community meetings that demonstrates that Wichitans are most concerned with two things:  a stable long-term water source and jobs. As we begin to broaden our discussion with our partners about what we need to do to address these concerns, it’s very clear that we must do our due diligence in researching plans and how to fund them. We look forward to sharing more information with you as we continue to study these issues. Gary Plummer President & CEO

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