Michigan has a brand, Las Vegas has a brand, and now it's Wichita's turn. The city wants Wichitans' ideas to make it happen. Around 70 people were the first to give their thoughts at a meeting aimed to brand the city Tuesday night.
GoWichita said although certain steps in the process may change things, it will cost around $65,000 to brand the city. But people who work for GoWichita said it's going to be well worth the investment to bring people to the city to visit, live and do business.
Those in attendance Tuesday night had nothing but great things to say about the city and highlighted their favorite ideas, places and attractions.
"The American Dream is alive and well in Oz. That's what I tell everybody when I travel," said Jim Fleming. He said affordable housing in a safe place is a great thing about the city. "Wichita just has very affordable housing. Housing is a crisis in this country today."
Gary Sherwin is the President and CEO of the consulting firm hired to help the city with branding. He said this is something many cities around the country are doing to increase economic development and tourism.
"Cities now, in order to stay competitive for both economic development related purposes and tourism, really have to kind of decide what they're going to be, what they're going to stand for, what makes them unique so that people will want to visit there," Sherwin said.
Sherwin led the conversation Tuesdays night. He asked questions about values, things to do and emotional benefits of living in Wichita. He got a variety of answers.
"Family. I also think about friends and then another thing that comes to mind would be probably a small city with a big city flavor," said pastor Rob McClish. McClish said he used to live in Texas but came back here a few years ago.
Kate Clause said, "The city really has a great investment into public art that everyone can enjoy. Whether you're riding your bike on the bike paths or you're just walking around the city. There are murals, there are sculptures there are paintings available."
While Wichita is not like Michigan or Las Vegas, people said a brand is still a good idea.
"I think it's really important," Fleming said. "Because I really don't think Wichitans know what they have."
The meeting was just one of the first steps in a long process of branding. Sherwin said at this point, the goal is to try to get ideas from the community about what is important to people here. Then, they will try to focus all of those ideas into an experience that represents Wichita. He said the first results should be back by Thanksgiving. Once that concept is created, Sherwin said the information will then go to an advertising agency who will create several elements to help show off Wichita.
The second meeting is Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center.