When I venture to new cities, one of the things that I enjoy doing is branding the city. I come up with a cool kick off campaign, slogan, and catchy ideas I've generated based on my marketing research. My marketing research is getting to understand the city's history, the people that reside there, and the hope for the future. I move around the city and talk to people who have lived in that city all of their life. I also talk to people who have just moved to the city and listen to their reasoning for the move. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Wichita, Kansas.
Skip ahead to Here's How if you want to skip my back story and research conducted...
I had typical stereotypes visiting Wichita, Kansas. It's a republican state, with a lot of farmland. So in my mind, it's as rural as it gets. And then I landed in one of the coolest neighborhoods in the United States... Of course all the rental cars were spoken for on the weekend I arrived. All that means is I get to begin my research with my Uber driver.
Upon arrival at my hotel downtown, I've learned that Wichita is very much a college town. Also, everyone that is from Wichita knows that it is the home of the very first Pizza Hut, which eventually was moved and is now placed as a museum. The energy in the city seems to carry that fact proudly as a badge of honor. It also seems very much like an entrepreneurial town. Everyone has a side hustle in Wichita and it seems as if the city is just waiting for the next Pizza Hut to come along to share with the rest of the world.
I hop on a rented bicycle and search for answers. I start going through some neighborhoods around 24th street. I notice a car not stopping and I don't have a stop sign in my direction. Then I thankfully realized that there are NO STOP SIGNS in this neighborhood. Let's just say I ended up over the front of my handlebars and ruined the brake pads on the bike, but I am alive to continue telling how to make Wichita extremely attractive.
NOT A SINGLE STOP SIGN - See for yourself.
There are tons of places to eat and very few places to find entertainment. What that tells me is that the people in Wichita save their money. They don't live lavish lifestyles and enjoy going out frequently. No strip clubs, no casinos, no miniature golf, so I'm thinking what is there to do for fun out here (not that those or my ideas of fun)? The entertainment value of this city is more or less scarce. This is not an issue at all, it's just part of the research, and to me that means liven the city up for enjoyment.
I did notice that Wichita is way more diverse than I expected. There are a good mix of all races including Lebanese. The Lebanese food is amazing. In fact, all of the places that I ate were surprisingly amazing - thanks to a reddit post that gave me some really great suggestions. So with great food, and great people, why is this place only at 400k? There are plenty of good opportunities for blue collar workers with so much authentic southern hospitality and a ton of history with an exemplary future - it just needs to be sewed in the cities molecular structure.
Dessert Before Dinner ;-) You'll ALWAYS have room for Dessert This Way
To wrap things up, I went to enjoy the scenery at Old Town, which should be renamed to College Town. More people would go, if there were more opportunities to park. (Since I found out that residents don't pay for parking)
And then I walked into a secret bar in my hotel at the Ambassador. This story is surprising and if you read the story above, you will see the deep roots in history. Now this place became mildly interesting. Then I wondered, how many other hidden gems are in this city.
***I was very impressed with Wichita, Kansas as it stands now and saw so much beauty and potential in the city that just needs to be portrayed and conveyed.
Keep buildings under 15 stories high for all of Sedgwick County. That leaves the Epic Center the tallest building with 22 floors - keeping the neighborhood feel. The neighborhood feel is so attractive, and it never felt like I was in a place with close to a half of a million people. Make each neighborhood a reflection of culture.
Make it a designated Art District - The Entire City
Enlighten Culinary, Performing Arts, Architecture, Interior Design, Film, Music, Graphic Design, Sculpture, Fashion (ironic, but yes), Animation, Painting, Photography, and last but not least Visual Design. Get behind every single
program and incorporate them ALL into the city in some facet.
MAKE IT THE START UP CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. Invest in the colleges. Set up a college fund that permits graduates from Wichita Universities, a small business fund to start their own business. There should be requirements that should be met, but this can be reasonably accommodated. Additionally, residents of Wichita for at least 5 years, can attend a specific program with the college to help them start their own business. The business fund does not need to be paid back because Wichita and the designated University will own a small percentage of the business (less than 1%).
Wichita is missing a "purple cow". What's going to attract people to come to Kansas - no gambling (in Wichita), no state of the art architecture, no world class zoo - only world class people. Making it a designated Art District, and Start Up Capital of the World will get people interested in moving there, but what about tourism? Outside of throwing in secret pubs, and secret venues, and pop-up breweries that would rave around the town...
I say the best money to gain is out of town money. But you'd need an upgraded airport, upgraded rental cars, more hotels etc… Assuming you did all of those things, and keeping with the theme previously, Century II needs a facelift and better than a 4.4 google rating. For crying out loud the Children's Theatre is a 4.7 rating. (Also the first place I've ever been that has a Children's Theatre). Upgrade your Performing Arts Center with beyond the imagination interior and exterior appeal. And within that one mile radius of Century II bring all kinds of attention with worldly food trucks, musicians (on non-music event nights) magic, caricatures, virtual reality, petting zoos, contests, photo booths, pop-up selfie worlds, etc only on event nights… And if that's not good enough, then we have to put up the worlds largest gold peace statue.
Tagline - to delete the one in the picture at the airport below...
And replace it with:
Wichita - Over The Moon (Since the State's slogan is "Ad astra per aspera" (to the stars through difficulties).
Let me know what you think, share it with your governing officials if you'd like, and let's CONTINUE to make Wichita the coolest city in the USA!