Scott Marko, Vice President of Zernco, Inc., was recently chosen as an Emerging Leader in Wichita by the Wichita Business Journal.
by Josh Heck – Wichita Business Journal 10/16/2015
Wichita has a self-esteem problem, a group of young professionals contend.
Wichitans, they say, often don’t do a good enough job selling what the city has to offer.
But for the group of young professionals – part of Wichita Business Journal’s inaugural Emerging Leaders class – who gathered at the WBJ’s office Friday for a roundtable discussion, Wichita is home. And they want to be involved and show outsiders their perception is not reality.
Members of the group tout the affordability and family friendliness of Wichita. Ease of commute also was mentioned, as was the small-town feel of Wichita, despite it being a larger city.
Christine Hilton, a senior manager at accounting firm Grant Thornton, described Wichita as a “big small town,” comparing it to Springfield, Mo. where she attended Missouri State University.
The group also praised ongoing efforts to make the city more attractive, such as the downtown revitalization.
Some in the group praised the efforts of Occidental Management to revitalize the historic Union Station campus and create a vibrant gathering place.
“I think the social focal point is a big deal,” said Nicole Schaar, vice president of treasury management sales at Bank SNB.
Some of the participants in Friday’s discussion grew up here or in this area and stayed, while others moved away and came back. Hilton moved to Wichita from Iowa.
She said she and her husband figured they would leave Wichita after a short time living here. Now, six years later, she can’t see them living anywhere else.
Others said Wichita being a good place to raise a family keeps them from wanting to leave.
Career and advancement opportunities locally were other reasons cited for staying in Wichita.
But more can be done for the betterment of the city, group members said.
Schaar said having another large employer in Wichita, comparable to a Koch Industries Inc. or Cargill, would help to draw more people to this area from across the country.
Some said a professional sports team and additional department store offerings, such as a Nordstroms, would help with recruiting people to Wichita.
Still, group members said they are optimistic about the city’s future.
Scott Marko, vice president of general contractor Zernco, Inc., said new housing and development along the Greenwich corridor are positive indicators the city continues to grow.
He said the construction market in general has recovered from the recession.
Others look forward to the continued revitalization of downtown.
This was the fourth of five roundtable discussions the WBJ is putting on in conjunction with an Emerging Leaders program.
The WBJ and the Kansas Leadership Center created a new program to develop young Wichita leaders.
The 51 people selected will participate in the year-long program. They were chosen by the leaders in their companies.
The fifth emerging leaders roundtable is Oct. 23. A panel discussion with some of the emerging leaders will take place later this year.