Visioneering

Project Wichita, remember Visioneering Wichita

Project Wichita, remember Visioneering Wichita

As Project Wichita gets ready to gather information and set goals, let's be aware that we've done this before, and not long ago. Project Wichita is a new initiative to do something about the future of Wichita. I hope it works. But we've been down this road before, and I don't know of anything created that has been of lasting value. That past effort was Visioneering Wichita. I'd supply a link to its website, but the site went stale from lack of updates. Eventually it was abandoned, although its remnants may be found at archive.org. (Visioneering Wichita does have a…
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Project Wichita right to look ahead at city’s future

Project Wichita right to look ahead at city’s future

We can understand self-serving politicians and bureaucrats. It's what they do. But a city's newspaper editorial board ought to be concerned with the truth. In February the Wichita Eagle editorialized about Project Wichita, a ramping-up effort to do something about the future of Wichita. [1. Wichita Eagle Editorial Board. Project Wichita right to look ahead at city’s future. Available at http://www.kansas.com/opinion/editorials/article198178899.html.] It's worthwhile to take a look at the op-ed, if only to learn something about the quality of Wichita Eagle editorial writing. I understand civic boosterism; the desire to paint a positive image of the future. But this rosy…
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When should Wichita compare itself to peers?

In a Wichita Eagle article about the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita, we see Wichita public relations consultant Vera Bothner complain that Wichita is being unfairly compared to other cities in our region, in particular Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Kansas City. Wichita is smaller than these cities, she says, and we should not hold Wichita to a standard that it can't meet. But in public life, we find Wichita frequently compared to these cities. These three cities are part of the four metropolitan areas that Visioneering Wichita choose as peers. (The other is Omaha.) During the recent sales tax…
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To Wichita, a promise to wisely invest if sales tax passes

To Wichita, a promise to wisely invest if sales tax passes

Claims of a reformed economic development process if Wichita voters approve a sales tax must be evaluated in light of past practice and the sameness of the people in charge. If these leaders are truly interested in reforming Wichita's economic development machinery and processes, they could have started years ago using the generous incentives we already have. At a conference produced by Kansas Policy Institute on Friday September 19, a panel presented the "nuts and bolts" of the jobs portion of the proposed Wichita sales tax that voters will see on their November ballots. I asked a question: Listening to…
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‘Transforming Wichita’ a reminder of the value of government promises

‘Transforming Wichita’ a reminder of the value of government promises

When Wichita voters weigh the plausibility of the city's plans for spending proposed new sales tax revenue, they should remember this is not the first time the city has promised results and accountability. Do you remember Transforming Wichita? According to the city, "Transforming Wichita is the journey by which we are fundamentally changing the way we measure, report and perform the work of delivering services to the citizens of Wichita." In more detail, the city website proclaimed: "TW is the journey by which we will be fundamentally changing the way we deliver services to the citizens of Wichita. Our vision…
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Former Wichita mayor: Where is the water?

Former Wichita mayor: Where is the water?

Former Wichita mayor Bob Knight explains that when he left office in 2003, we were assured we had water for 50 years. What has happened? Knight also reminded the audience that there is a Sedgwick County sales tax, part of which is divided among cities like Wichita. He also took the Visioneering planning process to task. In the past ten years, he wondered why no one asked about a city without water. From a forum at Wichita Pachyderm Club on July 22, 2014. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
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Wichita performs well in local government job creation

Wichita performs well in local government job creation

The Wichita metropolitan area compares well creating jobs in local government, but trails in private sector jobs. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics through 2013 allows us to compare the Wichita metropolitan area with the peers selected by Visioneering Wichita. I've gathered BLS data divided by industry sector. When considering only government jobs, especially local government jobs, Wichita ranks high. When looking at private sector jobs, however, Wichita is in last place, and by a wide margin. This is a problem. It is the private sector that generates the taxes that pay for government. When government grows faster than…
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A lesson for Wichita in economic development

A lesson for Wichita in economic development

When a prominent Wichita business executive and civic leader asked for tax relief, his reasoning allows us to more fully understand the city's economic development efforts and nature of the people city hall trusts to lead these endeavors. In November 2013 the Wichita City Council granted an exemption from paying property and sales tax for High Touch Technologies, a company located in downtown Wichita. This application is of more than usual interest as the company's CEO, Wayne Chambers, is now chair of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, along with its subsidiary Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, are…
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In Wichita, ‘free markets’ cited in case for economic development incentives

In Wichita, ‘free markets’ cited in case for economic development incentives

A prominent Wichita business uses free markets to justify its request for economic development incentives. A gullible city council buys the argument. At the December 10, 2013 meeting of the Wichita City Council, Bombardier LearJet received an economic development incentive that will let it avoid paying some property taxes on newly-purchased property. The amount involved in that particular incident is relatively small. According to city documents, "the value of the abated taxes on that investment could be as much as $1,980." This week Bombardier was before the council again asking for property tax abatements. City documents estimate the amount of…
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Wichita per capita income not moving in a good direction

Wichita per capita income not moving in a good direction

Despite its problematic nature, per capita income in Wichita is used as a benchmark for the economy. It's not moving in the right direction. As Wichita plans its future, leaders need to recognize and understand its recent history. One of the benchmarks used by Visioneering Wichita to measure the growth of the Wichita-area economy may not be the best statistic, and its interpretation requires caution. The measure is per-capita personal income. Specifically, the benchmark goal of Visioneering is "Stop the 21-year decline of Wichita per capita income as a percentage of U.S. per capita income before 2011. By 2024 exceed…
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Wichita local government jobs grow, but slower growth seen in private sector jobs

Wichita local government jobs grow, but slower growth seen in private sector jobs

Compared to peer cities, Wichita performs well in growth of local government jobs, but poorly in creating private sector jobs. I've prepared statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor for Wichita and two groups of peer cities. One group is our Visioneering peer cities. A second group includes those cities plus cities that Visioneers traveled to on official visits, plus a few others. The results are shown nearby. (Click on charts for larger versions, or click here to use the interactive visualization.) This data is annual data through the complete year 2013. The presentation of the…
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Wichita economic development incentives: Do they help?

Wichita economic development incentives: Do they help?

The Wichita City Council regularly awards economic development incentives. Are these incentives helpful, or not? In November the Wichita City Council granted Industrial Revenue Bonds to Spirit Aerosystems. The amount of the proposed bond issue was $49,000,000. The purpose of these IRBs is to allow the recipient to escape the payment of property taxes, and often sales taxes too. This action by the council may exempt up to $49,000,000 of property from taxation, both ad valorem (property) and sales. A 100 percent exemption is proposed for five years, plus a second five years if conditions are met. The city uses…
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Wichita not good for small business

Post by Voice For Liberty. The Wichita Business Journal reports today: When it comes to having good conditions to support small businesses, well, Wichita isn’t exactly at the top of the list, according to a new ranking from The Business Journals. In fact, the Wichita metro area’s small-business vitality score is nearly at the bottom -- 99th out of the 101 U.S. metro areas included in the study. (Wichita near bottom for small-business vitality score, April 2, 2014) Many in Wichita don't want to recognize and confront the bad news about the performance of the Wichita-area economy. Last year, when…
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Wichita’s growth in gross domestic product

Compared to peer areas, Wichita's record of growth in gross domestic product is similar to that of job creation: Wichita performs poorly. Looking at growth in GDP, Wichita lags behind the metropolitan statistical areas that we consider our peers (according to Visioneering Wichita), but not behind all the peer cities that I selected. Wichita does better than Springfield, Illinois, for example. I chose to include that as a peer metropolitan area because that's the immediate past city that Gary Plummer worked in. He was president of that city's Chamber of Commerce, and is now president of the Wichita Metro Chamber…
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For Wichita’s economic development machinery, failure

Compared to a broad group of peer metropolitan areas, Wichita performs very poorly. As Wichita embarks upon a new era of economic development, we need to ask who to trust with this important task. The good news: In a recent op-ed, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer wrote that the city needs to make a decision regarding "A more aggressive approach to job creation." (Carl Brewer: Wichita can have a great next year, December 22, 2013 Wichita Eagle) The bad news: Wichita has performed very poorly in job creation in recent decades, and even if we decide on a more aggressive approach,…
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Wichita economic development: Worth higher taxes?

In this excerpt from WichitaLiberty.TV: Wichita city and business leaders are likely to ask Wichitans to support a higher sales tax in order to support additional economic development efforts. Should Wichitans vote in favor of this? View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Another thing that a tax increase in Wichita might be used for is for economic development. That is, paying subsidies to companies so that they will provide jobs in Wichita. It’s felt that Wichita needs to step up its economic development efforts because things haven’t been going well lately. Not that everyone agrees. You’ve seen…
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In Wichita, ‘free markets’ used to justify business welfare

Incredibly, a prominent Wichita business uses the free market to justify its request for economic development incentives. A gullible city council buys the argument. At the December 10, 2013 meeting of the Wichita City Council, Bombardier LearJet received an economic development incentive that will let it avoid paying some property taxes on newly-purchased property. The amount involved in this particular incident is relatively small. According to city documents, "the value of the abated taxes on that investment could be as much as $1,980." (Bombardier receives millions each year in other government subsidies; see Kansas PEAK program: corporate welfare wrapped in…
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Employment visualization updated; Wichita still in last place

Wichita continues to lag behind its peer cities in job growth, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The interactive visualization referenced below lets you select any number of metropolitan areas (or states) and track progress in job growth. The nearby chart shows Wichita and its Visioneering peer cities (click on charts for larger versions). For about the last ten years Wichita has been in last place in job growth, and by no small margin. It wasn't always that way. Results like this should cause us to question our economic development strategies and the people and organizations we…
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Wichita-area income growth

Data for income in the nation's metropolitan statistical areas is now available for 2012, so I've updated some visualizations with the recent data. This visualization presents three statistics: Population, personal income, and per capita personal income. For each measurement, I present the relative change from the previous year, but also the compound rate of growth. The latter lets us see the effect of long term trends compounded over time, rather than what may have happened in any single year. (There are some issues related to per capita measures that require caution; see Wichita and peer GDP growth for an explanation.)…
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Cessna, another Wichita company asking for tax relief

This week the Wichita City Council will consider granting economic development incentives to Cessna Aircraft Company. The incentives are in the form of property (ad valorem) tax relief, implemented through the city's Industrial Revenue Bond program, as described by city documents: Since 1991, the City Council has approved issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds ("IRBs") totaling $1.2 billion to finance expansion and modernization of Cessna Aircraft Company ("Cessna") facilities in Wichita. The City Council also authorized 100% ad valorem tax exemptions for all bond-financed property for periods of up to ten years. The city does this for economic development, which in…
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