ISSUES 2017 10/15/17

Steve McIntosh
Thursday, October 12th

Gary Plummer, Presdient and CEO Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, discusses job growth, economic development, the Kansas Legislature, and the Chamber's annual meeting


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

This is issue Torre 79 Steve Macintosh our guest is Gary Plummer president and CEO Wichita regional chamber of commerce. Welcome to issue Torre seventy Gary thank you very much they think it's been right about a year since we talked maybe they did not as man as I don't get that option enough well okay. Will say let's begin with the Chamber's annual meeting is coming up November 7. Celebrating team Wichita and we're looking at a looks like a real basketball team this time we get Gregg Marshall and Dick. I tell tell us about it well we're excited you know sports is a big business in which a tall with which to us they going into the American conference and and this success that we've seen at the national baseball congress and the thought process behind a new baseball stadium and other improvements. You know there's a lot going on and impacts our economy we wanna celebrate that fact and we felt like Gregg Marshall was probably. Our greatest ambassador around the country for Wichita. And we invited coach Marshall them to be our keynote speaker. He. Got back to us and say give me somebody to talk to one up there above the have a conversation. And we couldn't think of a better candidate than Dick might now who everyone knows them and adores. To be onstage with coach Marshall on have. A little give and take about what the outlook is sport does shock curse. And I'm sure they'll be talking about the meaning of life as well or I'm I'm wondering does too is coach Marshall does he give speeches as it. He just feels like this would be a better form actually give a little talk and angle into the yeah I act I think you know I think both coach Marshall and Dick Mattel will each have. Some my short remarks. And you have the coaches have a great speaker I've heard him a couple of occasions. And we really were thrilled when he accepted our invitation to be in our annual meeting this year. I think this is gonna be enough format that he will prefer. In ethical loss so be south of the audience will really enjoy as well your underpants you have opened up the audience with some microphones and let them get involved to even do that again this year Geary. Well I'm not sure exactly of those details. They. The can handle that down in my office as an attack by fashion that they don't always bring me into that conversation but I know it. It will be an interesting evening and sketch when a man who will be wrapping up his year as chairman of the board of the chamber. I've I know is looking forward to it as well you know the chamber has hosted some really strong speakers for the annual meeting can you tell us about just a few of the past speakers we've. Well my favor one would have to be the very first year I got here in fact I was on the ground in which to about six weeks by myself having a stake. With George W. Bush. He was or speaker in 2011 probably brought the biggest crowd ever to an annual meeting for a chamber. And I it was great to meet the former president. We've had some wonderful speaker since then like secretary of state Condoleezza Rice secretary of defense Bob gates who helps me Wichita boy. Last year we had Damon John who is on the shark tank. And we have an entrepreneurship team there that involved along the local folks including that either the accelerator. So we try to mix of we don't always do political speakers and we felt like this was another year or we would take a year off from politics. And talk about another part of our economy which is the sports economy few years ago we had does Doris Kearns Goodwin and the great news history writer biography writer. What are my favorites and I got to actually. Go after it in meter in ever Simon book all one. Wonderful and it's so you know that was interesting and it's always he would get briefed me and I think blessed George H. W. Bush the the the first bush president was news he would you got here he was you know he spoke to our target group general Colin Powell spoke to our group years ago it's a great season. It's speaker went. When I finish at my first year with president George W. Bush we did some research to see. How how can we follow that act in and we. Looked around the country and there are no chambers doing that event the way we do that and and one of our successful against was a hometown boy Charles Coke. Join Aetna folks with MSNBC. Onstage and we brought that show the morning Joseph show. The Wichita as a part of that whole thing and that was that was exciting as well now how can our listeners get tickets. While only have to do is just go online which talked chamber dot org will be information there they can give us a call. Any time 2657765. And we can take care of their needs right. Recently Jeremy hill with which started university's center for economic development and business research released is annual forecast. For the year ahead and he's predicting it. Not very consummate optimistic it seems. Less than one half of 1% job growth just just over a thousand jobs what what's your response to that Terry what is it about. Wolf first saw him I hold Jeremy in high regard he's he's well known around the country for what he does some were really blessed to have a guy of his talent. Here Wichita and connect to with Wichita State. And that annual conference than they do is absolutely top notch. I think what may be understated in his numbers or the number of jobs that are open and will soon be open in Wichita because of a retirements of the baby boomers are aging out we talked to. Spirit and Textron about their needs. They they really have to recruit. Hundreds of folks every year just to back fill the retirements that they. Her face well and that's a challenge that we really have to embrace and I think be very creative about addressing in the which to our region. That we had some recent conversations. With folks out of South Carolina about how they leverage their educational. And economic development resources to try to. Phil and and train the positions that they've seen. Particularly in aerospace. They dislocated a Boeing plant there in 2011 has 6000 employees. And they put it about 65 state employees on the job. It worked personally with going to train their workforce and get them up and running I think that's the kind of aggressive approach we need to take. Here in Wichita and threats state and Kansas to make sure that we don't lose any economic. Opportunities down the road because we don't have the talent pool but those major employers in need and it's really. Much for an economic development issue than even though workforce development issue in our eyes well he'll say is as skilled labor. Is the key to job growth in the area and you're talking about and how to get there right yes and it's not just the big companies that tell us that. When we ask our members on a regular basis what's the thing that keeps you up at night. They say it's finding talent and retaining young talent in particular and so that's why we. Taken on this challenge working working very closely with Korea which don't partnership. That's why are young professionals in Wichita program. Is one of our key affiliates they have 3000 members and those are young professionals that work getting involved in the community. In it and some peace is helping them meet their. Spouse. In some cases be showing them how they can get engaged in the community and be so when transom they never want to leave and that's really. What that young professional program is all about. You know how about how does that tie into when you talk about. Wichita but we're talking about really regionally the regional chamber. Are you getting others smaller communities around the area involved in all of us we work on a very close spaces with about twenty chambers in our region. Oh over about a fifty mile radius from Wichita we convene them on a regular basis. They have joined us the last couple years on a regional legislative agenda. At Topeka and have been a part of our. Lobbying efforts in to peak including a reception that we do on an annual basis and we just like their strength in numbers are a lot of commonalities. When he talked about economic development transportation workforce development. Water resources in those sort of issues those are regional issues on a not just a city issue and and that's why we've put such an emphasis on working with our regional partners and when you. Go to to peak of resentment like Connecticut the more the merrier because of what you're saying in a bubble was up that northeast corner of the state got. Maybe a little more attention than they should because of the population density up there are on warrants to peek a Kansas City. So when you guys flock together views but more numbers at him and there's no question about that I mean it's a constant effort to work. With I'm gonna guess about thirty legislators from the south central Kansas effort try to keep them together on issues that are important to our region. And were able to do that were usually pretty successful making things happen in the state legislature. He's our local educational system working well ultimate Rangers prepared her to get to prepare for jobs and life. But today I think we're very blessed having lived in this community now for six years. To see what district 259 is doing what some of the suburban districts around us. Are doing and how their improving their improvement facilities. They're paying very close attention to the educational achievement numbers and trying to be. I think accountable for their success in that regard they certainly playing very critical role in our economy and they're turning out the the workforce that we need to continue to grow on me in the vibrant. When it comes to economic development and in our future we worked very closely with a group called the business and education alliance. Which is made up a business and education leaders to meet on a monthly basis talk about what we have in common and where we need to pull together to be more effective on both sides. And I think is starting to show some real results you know one of the things that evidence before you got here it has the 2008 to. Bond issue for the public's battle for the linen and just basically renovated it reached school and Christie 259. That it kept a lot of people work and right after that recession it Erie where you're right now that is before I can't hear but I will tell you the contractors still talk about how. Important that was. During that three year period or so where that was the that was the biggest jobs and hand and they did keep a lot of construction workers. On the payroll and named best that'll huge amount of money in our in our local economy. And so thank goodness they had the foresight to reinvest in themselves like that you go and talk to people about Wichita and consciously you and your people and you diss the school the brand new school system amid the facilities here is that is that a good selling point where you use that. Although I think there's no question about that I mean. It shows the community so much better when you have those sort of facilities. And will. We both know that that's what goes on inside the school only makes the biggest difference and that's certainly not being ignored but just. To show this community and our neighboring communities in our metro area. To a new company. Or to a new CEO who's been recruited to come to the Wichita area. It helps a tremendous amount available to. Say this is how important education is start community and were willing to invest and what's interesting is those of us who are from Wichita and we have. Our reunions I haven't gone up next year another high school reunion every five years and we bring people in who haven't been back to town for a few years and mute we have a tour of our carver high school Lehman to. Now on Saturday mornings and people are just a base and is this a safe place I recognize some of the the hallways that that's about it they do they're just aghast and Al well everything looks so nice and clean and new. And that's kind of reaction you look for in that that's a kind of reaction that will prompt somebody. When they hit retirement. Or their Macon John change to really strongly consider Wichita. As a place to return to I think that's more a lot of our growth can come for people who. Left a stirring a certain economic downturn may now have enough to any comeback because we have the jobs and opportunities. Probably a greater level than we've ever had. You're listening to issues Tony seventeen on the Entercom radio stations and our guest is Gary Plummer. President and CEO Wichita regional chamber of commerce and and that annual meetings coming up November 7. You know at some point Wichita will probably build the new baseball stadium attempting to attract a Major League affiliated franchise of possible. Does a city have a Chamber's backing on net absolutely. We we came out in support of that of the City Council meeting. And two assists it's even bigger than just the ball stadium we think that it's. A lot about. How do we engage the river and the and so now we are very engaged in these quality of place conversations because again we think. You look at examples like Oklahoma City news. Reinvented their community over the last two decades. And the economic success or handling as a result of that I think we need to model that in Wichita and have a long range plan. Two you know really have a community with the quality of life on the assets that we think are important to not only today's generation but future generations as well. The city is looking at upgrading it to downtown convention and performing arts facility. Does it take you chamber to a position on century to weathering keep the dome or not. Had been a little controversial at times. Yeah and it's probably gonna continue to be a hot topic in the community I applaud the city manager and mayor and the council for. Rolling out inning gauge the process rather than encourage a lot of feedback on the different options that are in the air force century to as well let's look. As performing arts facility. We haven't taken a position in on that were very closely following. The issue trying to do better understand what the numbers are and what the return on investment. Will be for the different options on this very important topic for our future and I I will tell you. Then again our young professionals which it's our leadership Wichita program. The emerging leaders. Tell us and it's important to invest in in yourself. And that's something whether we renovate or whether we start new with those facilities. How we invest in ourselves as very important to the community. That was used a chamber of trying to attract people to come into canned conventions and help with that. As together a new facility there for you vendor to put up their wares and have a good show. Plus of course Knology that this the theater in the arched ailment it's a very it's a central key to what goes on our city is about. Well as Susie Santa with ms. it was talked speak to that better than I can't. But you're right convention senator really has a lot of economic impact when you can compete with other regional destinations like. Overland Park home on tolls. Even Springfield Missouri and those sort of places you have to be competitive to get those regional. Meetings and conventions in your community and I think the interest bank arena has been a great model has can really demonstrated down investment like Beckham paid dividends. Early community that's an asset. It really kind of reinvent the way people look at downtown Wichita on May be we have an opportunity to do that again but again there's a lot. The conversation that's gonna have to happen about the best path to take on how would you like to see you Tyson Foods chicken processing plant in the Wichita area. Well actually chamber came out supported an effort to try to find their only site in our region. That would work for them certainly 15100 jobs would be a real boost to our regional economy. It's some of their requirements. And some other environmental impact probably will dictate a more rural onside. Then the immediate Wichita metro area we understand man. I also know that a lot of that decisions probably going to be driven by. Their own infrastructure. At Tyson including where the growers are that are going to be. You know I'm providing. Animals to their plan so. In a lot of those decisions are guerrilla base on Tyson's missiles model. We just like pit south central Kansas ought to take a look at whether or not we'd be the right location. Tell us about the meetings are Chamber's been having. With government officials and yes I think a series of him here recently. With government officials but those meetings Zelda. We have a very active government relate. She is committee. And in addition to that we have about eight subcommittees underneath their group. That drill down on some specific areas that we think are important like air service transportation. Education policy. Environmental resource lose business development. Practices. Particularly at the local level. And so we have a lot of our membership doing gauge in those important conversations. And ism that the ability to impact. Policy that's gonna. You know really dictate whether we have a business friendly environment in the Wichita region and state wide for that matter. So we have those committees that are actively engaging. The folks who can make a difference whether it's the regional director for the Environmental Protection Agency or whether it's someone from state government. Responsible for a statewide water policy. You know whatever those issues might be we we try to have an active dialogue with them and I think. Because our government affairs team. Which is changed recently we have we have. And always have had quite an impact on local state and federal issues were blessed to have Sean Robinson. I'm just joining us as director government of relations he was on the San affable congressman Pompeo and congressman Estes. As a he brings a lot of experience to that role. And at Tron know who's his assistance very. Energetic young person making a difference in the course Jason Watkins is our. Legislative consultant he has a long history with the chamber he's probably one of the most effective. Lobbyists you'll find at the Statehouse in Topeka. We need to but the subcommittees is it difficult to get your members to serve on them or. Are they calacanis a well this is pretty much in my mine enters votes communities and they volunteer pretty rightly and he you have to Latin. And twister armed security reduce the subcommittees is actually pretty easy. Because you know transportation for example we have a lot of folks from engineering and construction. That's their bread and bother and so there there and because they know they may able to get more down at the state level if we work together them what they would do on their own. Certainly educations are conversations there. Engage. The education community from kindergarten through twelfth grade as well as higher education and we. We seek their input as we work on our own legislative agenda when it comes to workforce development education so it's really not that difficult were blessed with that. Capers made a strong commitment to teams to meet promoting business networking. Folks you're in business professionals talking to each other. Talk about that little bit that commitment to business network. Well as you probably realized more than 85% of our members. And we're now 18100 members strong at the chamber. Our folks who are small businesses probably less than fifty employees. And I was 675%. And the less than twenty employees so world small business organization. And a lot of the value we can provide to those companies. Is the opportunity to meet their peers to develop new business relationships. And a build their business actually through the different events that we have with the chamber one of our biggest ones. Is our exposure event which is the biggest business the business trade show in Wichita on an annual basis we just had a very successful event again. And ten century to wanna thank Cox business for being our presenting sponsor on that and we had probably 2000. Visitors and over 250 exhibitors. So it's probably the best day of sales development that person can hand. If they have a chamber connection wanna try to use it to grow their own business you came in after the the Great Recession it. And it was pretty tough on which it. What are you can you gauge how far we've come back people say we're not. Back where we were before but active human struggling for a few years. Yes and you know were very manufacturing. Dependent economy right probably in the top three economies of our size in the country for that. And some of those jobs that we lost during the recession probably will not come back because because of automation and because of acquisitions. And and other moves to be more efficient and more competitive. And so who may never have. 30000 people. In in the aviation industry in Wichita again but. We have a great supply chain that I think continues to grow and we're saying the business rebound. My goodness the the business in the commercial. Ship missiles right now so strong with probably a twenty year. Backlog of business out of spirit that's that's a great sign for the community so there's a lot of promising signs. In our economy right now and I think through some momentum. The makes us all feel like whirl on the verge of some some really good times here in Wichita so what's ahead toward quality team for the witch to a regional chamber of comers. They were plants. Well there's always been plans at the chamber and and I am pleased to announce that bill would do as a partner posts and see if Kent. Will be our 2018 chairman he's going to be complaining our board of directors here. Later in October. Looking at what our priorities need to be for 2018. How we address those. Certainly some of the things we started on inclusion and diversity. As well as quality of place in education. I think will continue to be engaged in. And now we're just very blessed that we have a strong board and in other strong leaders who were committed to their community and that's what makes. A chamber of successful your few years here in Wichita. Was a wise decision to make them. Of course it I don't expect to say this place fakes and let. But how has it been for you and your family Gary here which. What's been great. I was able to put says to voice her high school in the last six years and and my wife enjoys. All the different choices that you have in a community this size. Now Wichita has been a great move for us and what's really been a blessing of the folks of that work with me on a daily basis and the chamber they make. My job so much easier and because of their dedication to this community. And they continue to be very very loyal very supportive and very innovative and I'm very thankful for that the weather in October in this part of the country is not bad eaters. All the I'd love it that's a I've brought three snow shovels with me from central Illinois and I think of views them once in the last six shooter sets. Could pay our guest is Gary Plummer president and CEO Wichita regional chamber of commerce and that's all for this edition of issues Tony seventeen Gary thank you so much for being with us. We will be back next week. Thank you for listing I'm Steve Macintosh.