You don’t say

“You make a plan, and sometimes you have to revise your plan.”

– The Wichita chamber’s Barby Jobe who, upon being told CEO Bryan Derreberry was leaving, immediately realized she’d need to replace two billboards that feature him

Wichita makes another list, this time for consumer spending

WICHITA — Another day, another list.

Wichita has seemed to make a lot of them in the past couple of years.

The “Today” show just named Wichita the most affordable city in the nation.

Now, a list by Bundle, a new social money comparison site, is showing exactly how much Wichitans are spending.

Bundle ranks Wichita No. 22 in the top 25 cities for annual consumer spending.

Austin is No. 1 on the list with an average spending of $67,076 per household, excluding mortgages and rent.

Wichitans spend an average of $44,810.

The national average is $37,782.

“My first reaction to that is simply its probably decent to be in the middle of that,” says Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University.

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Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce cancels issues forum after calls of complaint

WICHITA — The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has canceled a federal issues forum it planned for April 19 in response to complaints from its members and U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s office.

“We’ve been well communicated with,” says Sam Williams, chamber chairman.

“It’s a political year, and we didn’t probably pay enough attention to the political ramifications.”

The chamber invited U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran to speak at the forum.

Moran and Tiahrt, both Republicans, are running against each other for U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback’s seat.

Williams says the forum is meant to be a nonpolitical gathering to discuss issues in Washington that affect local businesses.

“We thought this was going to be pretty interesting just because of all the health care stuff going on,” Williams says.

With the pressure that everyone is under these days, though, he says, “Things that maybe in the past wouldn’t have been so important just get overblown.”

The forum will be rescheduled, but neither Moran nor Tiahrt will be at it.

“Bottom line?” says Todd Novascone, Moran’s chief of staff. “As of yesterday or the day before, we are disinvited.”

Regarding Tiahrt’s office, Novascone says, “I don’t want to use the word arrogant . . . but I’ve never seen pressure like that. It just kind of really shocked me.”

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Karl Peterjohn, onetime Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce foe, to speak at the group’s Chairman’s Lunch

peterWICHITA — When invitations recently went out for the Feb. 11 Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual Chairman’s Lunch, three speakers were listed, but only two by name.

Mayor Carl Brewer will speak, as will 2010 Chamber Chairman Sam Williams.

The third speaker is the Sedgwick County Commission chairman, who at the time the invitations were printed was not yet elected.

Now he has been, and it’s Karl Peterjohn. As in the same Peterjohn who in 2008 claimed there was a “political jihad” against him by the Chamber and its political action committee.

“I was the No. 1 candidate that the Chamber opposed,” Peterjohn says.

derre“Oh . . . that is all old history,” says Chamber president and CEO Bryan Derreberry.

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Chamber disbands ambassadors group

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has disbanded its decades-old ambassadors program in favor of three new committees.

“I’m a strong supporter of the chamber, and I just found it really odd,” says Cindy Miles, director of community and campus relations at Butler Community College.

She says the way it was presented was that the chamber needs more members and doesn’t want to overtax volunteers.

“You would think if recruitment and retention is down, they would just look to get more people out there as ambassadors,” she says.

Mike Nelson of L&L Van Lines, who is one of the longest-serving ambassadors at 19 years, says, “I don’t think it’s any earth-shattering news.”

He says volunteers’ time and needs have changed over the years.

“I’m fine with it because I had been really strapped with time to do all the different things they wanted us to do,” Nelson says. “I was having a real hard time keeping up with all of that.”

Chambers everywhere right now “are looking at ways that they can best provide value to both their volunteers and, most importantly, their customers,” says chamber president and chief executive Bryan Derreberry.

Previously, the ambassadors group was a select group of about 30 individuals (that number fluctuated) who went through a nomination process and were then selected to help with recruitment and retention of members and serve as a something of a welcoming committee.

Each of those facets will now be individual committees.

One group of volunteers will focus solely on welcoming new members “so they can provide that kind of customer attention,” Derreberry says.

Another group will concentrate on getting new members.

“You can’t have enough customers,” Derreberry says.

And another group will be charged with helping to retain members.

“There are distinct skill sets for each one of those,” Derreberry says. Most important, he says, is that members and potential members have “quality relationships.”

Potential committee members will still be screened, but it won’t be the same nomination process, and there can be an unlimited number serving on each committee.

“There are a set of committee member expectations,” Derreberry says. “We love our volunteers, and we’re trying to maximize their opportunities for engagement.”

Nelson thinks it makes sense.

“This basically gives you a choice,” he says, though he adds, “There’s a lot of people there that may not feel that way. It was kind of a unique little group.”

Miles says she’ll still support the chamber, but she says, “It’s very odd to be a laid-off volunteer.”