WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — As part of his state of the city address Thursday, Mayor Brandon Whipple says Wichita is on track to become a global leader not only in manufacturing but also in technology.
According to Mayor Whipple, the City of Wichita has competed for 10 economic development projects over the past six years, worth a combined $1 billion in capital investment. Eight of these projects have been implemented in the last 24 months alone.
Mayor Whipple says the city has also competed for 15 economic development projects that each provided 1,000 jobs (more than half of which, again, were sought in the past two years).
The mayor also highlighted the local economy’s transition from the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that Wichita was the only city in Kansas to use funds from the American Rescue Plan to create millions in workforce development grants. He says the city has provided more than $2 million in start-up assistance, business planning and business incubator space in the past year.
The mayor said the city restored or created 32,400 jobs in April last year and now has a 3 percent unemployment rate.
In addition to Wichita’s economic development accomplishments over the past year, Mayor Whipple also highlighted the need to retain young talent and cited the millions the city has donated to WSU and WSU Tech. Two other key factors, he says, are attracting a younger workforce: the city’s Perfect 100 score from the human rights campaign and the city’s NDO.
He also noted the city’s strides to hire a new police chief and decriminalize marijuana and fentanyl test strips (as well as ensure law enforcement agencies can transport and distribute Narcan as needed in the fight against the opioid epidemic). ).
Two other recent findings relate to the WFD: specifically, a dramatic increase in job applications over the past year thanks to a new contract and $45 million earmarked for new firehouses over the next eight years.
As for his top priorities this year, Mayor Whipple says the city needs to develop more local partnerships to fight homelessness and create more economic opportunity.
“As we bring in more jobs, we also need skills training programmes, and this helps ensure that the quality of life remains at a standard where people want to live here, want to grow here and that we also invest in our infrastructure so people can get those jobs,” Mayor Whipple said.
The mayor says the city also plans to move forward with its $9 million plan to help Wichita reach its goal of a “functional zero” homeless population and $18 million to modernize Century II within the next 10 years. years.