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All About Wichita

As the largest city in Kansas, Wichita is considered the economic hub of the region. The world has felt the impact of Wichita's homegrown products: aircraft, camping products, pizzas and even amusement park rides. But perhaps Wichita's greatest asset is its people. Friendly people, open and generous with a commitment to hard work and conventional values, will make your visit an experience to remember.

Browse the rest of our web site to find out more about the exciting things to see and do in Wichita! Or give us a call at the Greater Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau: 1-800-288-9424.

Wichita's History

Wichita is a jewel in the heartland of the United States. It?s right at the point where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers meet. The ?Keeper of the Plains?, a majestic and commanding figure that many people associate with Wichita, created by the late Wichita artist Blackbear, now marks the historic spot. The Wichita Indians who lived in this area gave our city its name. Later, settlers discovered this land of subtle beauty, good soil, water and abundant wildlife, which was to be named Sedgwick County.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the site of present day Wichita, located at the junction of the Arkansas Rivers in south-central Kansas, has served as a trading center and meeting place for at least eleven thousand years. Early inhabitants were nomadic, following the game they hunted throughout the central continent. European explorers may have first visited the area in 1541, when the Spaniard Francisco Vasquez de Coronado hunted for the mythical "golden" cities of Quivira, followed by several French and American explorers in later centuries.

The forces of westward expansion and financial rewards attracted the first white settlers to the area in the 1850's and 60's, some of whom realized great profits from hunting and trapping the wildlife and trading with the native population. Among them were J.R. Mead, Jesse Chisholm, William Greiffenstein, and William Mathewson; men who later shared a vision for a city on the prairie.

The first recorded permanent settlement was a collection of grass houses built in 1863 by the Wichita Indians. Due to the tribe's pro-Union sentiment in the midst of the Civil War, the Wichita moved north from Indian Territory (Oklahoma) under the protection of the U.S. government. Mead and others established a profitable business trading with the Wichita and supplying the government agency charged with their protection. When the region's native peoples were "removed" to Indian Territory in 1868 to open the area for white settlement, the trading business followed them, using the Wichita site as a base and establishing the Chisholm Trail as a route of transport.

Due to the efforts of Mead, Greiffenstein and others, the city of Wichita was incorporated in 1870 as a village, and became county seat of Sedgwick County soon thereafter. A short-lived army post known as Camp Beecher was established nearby, serving to provide a market for local businesses. In 1872, the railroad arrived, and Wichita became the destination for Texas cattle being driven north along the Chisholm Trail for shipment by rail to eastern markets. This industry, coupled with the grain and milling market begun in 1874, led to rapid growth of the community. By 1886 Wichita was incorporated as a city of first class, and was established as the region's principal city.

Just as the city experienced its initial growth during the Civil War era, so did the periods of the two twentieth century world wars witness further development. In 1914-15, oil was discovered in the area, and Wichita soon became known as the "oil capital of Kansas." The following year, another industry was established with the first manufacture of an airplane in the city. Over the course of the inter-war years, the industry would grow to establish Wichita as the "air capital." World War II brought thousands of aircraft manufacturing jobs to the city in the 1940's, resulting in a population explosion. Activation of McConnell Air Force Base in 1951 attracted thousands more. The entrepreneurial spirit that prompted Wichita's founding continued in the development of several companies that would rise to national prominence, such as Coleman, Mentholatum, Pizza Hut, White Castle and Koch Industries.

Wichita today reflects the impact of each development throughout its history. Evidence of these eras can still be seen in the city's architectural heritage. From the mansions of the early cattlemen to the industrial buildings of the twentieth century, the spirit of those who built Wichita into a manufacturing, financial, educational and cultural center lives on.

Aviation and Wichita
The Air Capital of the World

Why Wichita? According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Wichita-based aircraft companies produced seven out of every 10 planes delivered in the first six months of 1998, representing 59 percent of total billings! These numbers do not include commercial jetliners.

Our Aviation Heritage:

By 1916 Wichita was by far the largest city in south-central Kansas and was easily accessible to the nearby Butler County oil fields. Oilman J.M. (Jack) Moellendick met Emil Matthew Laird, a barnstorming pilot who wished to build airplanes commercially, and William Burek, manager of the Wichita Aircraft Company (which was actually a wheat field that recently had been converted to a landing strip).

In the spring of 1920, the three were joined by Laird's brother, Charles, and they organized the Wichita Laird Aircraft Corporation and developed a two-place biplane, the Swallow. The rest, as they say, is history.

By 1929 a total of 16 aircraft factories, employing some 2,000 people, were producing one-forth of all commercial aircraft built in the USA. In addition, the city boasted 11 airports and 41 support companies.

Over the years a number of aviation pioneers, including individuals whose names would come to define the industry, established themselves in Wichita. Among these visionaries were Lloyd Stearman
, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna and later Bill Lear. The Stearman company was acquired and the name changed to Wichita-Boeing.

The Second World War transformed Wichita's aircraft plants to the status of a major industry. By 1943 fully one half of the cities 184,000 dwellers owed their livelihood to the aircraft plants. Following the war, Wichita's plane makers successfully switched their emphasis to commercial and business aircraft, and in doing reestablished the city as the "Air Capital of the World."

In 1980, the Beech Aircraft Corporation was merged with Raytheon Aircraft. In 1990, Learjet was acquired by Bombardier Aerospace.

Moving to Wichita?

A visit to Wichita may just entice you to join more than 350,000 people who call Wichita home. Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and a vibrant community with an active arts scene and diverse cultural and culinary experiences.

Wichita has diverse housing options, wonderful schools, great weather and some of friendliest people you'll find.

Wichita provides various opportunities for worship, excellent universities, and an array of healthcare facilities and financial institutions. And, thanks to new low-cost carriers in the Wichita market, Wichita Mid-Continent Airport provides easy and inexpensive access to any travel destination you may have.

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"A pioneer spirit dressed in the latest high-tech fashion."
Perhaps that description best identifies a key component to the Wichita area prosperity. That pioneer spirit originated more than a century ago, and to understand the success of Wichita today, as well as all the future possibilities, you need to take a quick look back.

Now recognized as one of the major mid-sized cities in the nation, Wichita has come a long way since its infant years as a trading post and cowtown. The road from "then" to "now" has been filled with colorful people, events and businesses that have been the building blocks for today's cosmopolitan

Wichita...a dynamic community rich in culture, activity and opportunity.

The Wild, Wild West!
The beginnings of the community date to 1868, when J.R. Mead founded a trading post on the banks of the confluence of two rivers, the Arkansas and the Little Arkansas. For centuries this location had also served as a trading place for Native Americans. The name Wichita comes from the Wichita Indians, who settled at various times in the vicinity, and means either "scattered lodges" or "painted faces," depending on which historian you ask.

In 1868, a Wichita Town Company was organized with Mead and six others as original incorporators. Wichita was incorporated as a city of the third class on July 21, 1870. One hundred twenty-three men and one woman signed the original incorporation petition. The woman was Mrs. Catherine McCarty, who owned and operated a laundry. Later, she moved to
New Mexico, where her oldest son, Henry, changed his name to William Bonney, better known as "Billy the Kid."

Move Along, Little Doggies!
Within a year of incorporation, Wichita experienced phenomenal growth, due largely to the cattle trade from Texas. So rapid was the population growth that in late 1872, Wichita became a city of the second class. That same year, Col. Marshal Murdock founded the Wichita City Eagle newspaper. Now known as the Wichita Eagle, it is the largest newspaper in the state.

Jesse Chisholm came to Wichita first in about 1863, leading a party of sportsmen and adventurers here to hunt game. He later marked the cattle trail, best known as the Chisholm Trail, from the King Ranch in south
Texas to Kansas. Cattle by the hundreds of thousands traversed the trail to the Santa Fe railhead at Wichita. In 1872 alone, 350,000 head of cattle were sold in Wichita at a value of more than $2 million, a princely sum in those days.

Spurred by this influx of cowboys in the 1870s who brought hundreds of thousands of cattle out of Texas north to Wichita along the Chisholm Trail, Wichita was indeed a rough and tumble cowtown. It was a city where Wyatt Earp, "Buffalo Bill" William Mathewson, and Bat Masterson walked the dusty streets. Just west of the river, the area known as Delano was especially wild and woolly. All manner of vice could be found in saloons, dance halls, gambling and prostitution houses to entertain the thirsty and lonely cowboys.

Down To Business!
Wichita fell on hard times in the late 1870s when the cattle trade moved further west to take advantage of the construction of rail lines. But, by 1880, the city had rebounded with a growing economy in agriculture and manufacturing. The first Board of Trade was opened in 1880. The Commercial Club was founded in 1897 and became the Chamber of Commerce in 1901. The present day Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce dates from 1917. Even though the cattle trade lasted only three or four years, its presence assured

Wichita's position as a commercial hub. With the trade groundwork firmly established, manufacturing and agriculture industries thrived in the late teens and early 1920s. In addition, savvy aviation entrepreneurs moved in to take advantage of the benefits of a prosperous oil industry, agreeable climate and wide open spaces perfect for building and testing these new birds of flight.

Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines!
Men like Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, E.M. Laird, J.M. Mollendick and George Weaver were responsible for starting the aircraft industry in the area. With Mollendick as the financial backer, Laird started the Swallow Airplane Company to build the Swallow airplane that had been designed in

Chicago. Interestingly, Beech, Stearman, and Weaver all worked for Laird and Mollendick until each went on to establish his own company. Stearman's company later was purchased by The Boeing Company of Seattle. Today it is Wichita's largest employer with more than 20,000 employees.  The Beech (now Raytheon Aircraft Co.) and Cessna companies continue today, as does Learjet (now Bombardier Aerospace Learjet), founded by William Lear in the mid 1960s. It was through the efforts of these aviation pioneers that Wichita earned the title of "Air Capital of the World." With all companies still located in Wichita, that title firmly remains today. Cessna, Bombardier Aerospace Learjet and Raytheon supply more than half of the world's general aviation and military aircraft. Boeing supplies two-thirds of the world's commercial airliners.

W.C. Coleman at HQ
It was not only aviation that established Wichita as a hotbed of entrepreneurship. Many other Wichita business leaders have made their mark too. W.C. Coleman, a name synonymous worldwide with camping and outdoor recreational equipment, produced his first Coleman lantern in Wichita in 1914. About the same time, another innovative business leader, A.A. Hyde, invented a product that was to become a household word...mentholatum. Later, two enterprising Wichitans launched White Castle hamburgers here.

We Grow Them Big Out Here!
Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the U.S., is another homegrown success story. Originally established as the Wood River Oil and Refining Company in 1940, Koch Industries has become one of the most diverse firms in the nation. Koch operations include refined products, chemicals, crude oil services, gas liquids, energy services, chemical technology, minerals services, agriculture and capital services. In 1958 Frank and Dan Carney borrowed $600 from their mother and established their first Pizza Hut in Wichita in a small red-bricked building. This original Pizza Hut now resides on the campus of Wichita State University as testimony to the possibilities of vision, hard work and the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Making Themselves At Home!
A sampling of other well-known national and international companies with roots in Wichita include: Big Dog Motorcycles, InterVoice-Brite, Inc., Candlewood Inn, Chance Manufacturing, IFR Systems (now known as Aeroflex Wichita), Lone Star Steakhouse, Cox Communications, Hyperion Communications, Pioneer Balloon, Rent-A-Center, Ryan Aviation, Sheplers Western Wear Store, Summerfield Suites and The Residence Inn. While not originating in Wichita, there are numerous other leading companies that have branches here like AmeriServe, Best Western International, IKON Office Solutions, LSI Logic and Royal Caribbean International.

Charge!
Obviously, Wichita has come a long way since its beginnings as a trading post and cowtown
. Right now, Wichita is a booming city with one of the best economies in the nation...a solid, diverse economy with business interests that span the globe. Good jobs and good salaries, below national average costs, short commute times and burgeoning arts and attractions have also developed in conjunction with this solid, Midwest spirit of hard work and vision...a pioneer spirit all dressed up in high tech fashion. But, it's the original foundation as a center for commerce that has been the one constant ensuring Wichita's progress through good times and bad. It's a legacy of commerce that will continue to keep Wichita prosperous as we charge ahead in this 21st century.

Sources: Dr. Craig Miner, The Wichita State University; "Wichita Century" by R.L. Long; "Visions from the Heartland" by Howard Inglish

Golf

Get out your clubs and take a swing at golfing in Wichita! Discover new and exciting golf courses, beautiful scenery and an atmosphere of fun and affordability when you play in Wichita. Golfers of all ages and skill levels will enjoy the variety provided by the city?s five fantastic municipal courses. There are over 35 courses in the Wichita metropolitan area including public, private and semi-private all within a 50-mile radius.

Experience why Wichita is an excellent golf destination! You can golf for as little as $17 a person on some public courses! Or stay in one our luxurious hotels and play a round at their course.

In Wichita and surrounding areas there are over 26 golf courses both public courses as well as country clubs.


FACTOID: Nationally, Wichita's violent crime rate is less than half the average of all cities with populations of 250,000 to 500,000. Part of that success is due to our nationally recognized community and police initiatives that have made Wichita a sound choice for a safe home and business environment.

Wichita Independent Neighborhoods (WIN)
Wichitans get involved...and they make a difference. Perhaps one of the best examples is the number of neighborhood associations (more than 80) that have sprung up around town to help keep a lid on crime. To keep this solidarity and momentum going, The Wichita Independent Neighborhoods organization was formed. WIN serves as a communications/training center to keep the neighborhood organizations informed and connected for continued success.

Community Policing Programs
By foot, bike, door-to-door, at neighborhood get-togethers... Wichita police officers are developing more than a presence in Wichita neighborhoods, they're developing personal, positive relationships. This police-community partnership has strengthened the neighborhoods' spirit, heightened crime and drug prevention awareness and generated support for local anti-crime programs.

Wichita Metro Area Facts At A Glance

Data covers the 3-county Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) consisting of Sedgwick, Butler and Harvey County unless otherwise specified.- Sumner County was added to the Wichita MSA in June 2003. -Most official statistics based on the new 4-county MSA will not be available before January 2005.  Four-county MSA statistics are indicated by an (*)

Population*....................................................................... 582,781
Source
: U.S. Census Bureau (2003)

Civilian Labor Force......................................................... 294,805
Source: Kansas Dept. of Human Resources (August 2004)

Unemployed....................................................................... 16,229
Source: Kansas Dept. of Human Resources (August 2004)

Unemployment Rate.............................................................. 5.5%
Source: Kansas Dept. of Human Resources (August 2004)

Manufacturing Employment (Percent of Total).......... 57,400 (21%)
Roughly double the national manufacturing percentage of 11%.  According to Industry Week magazine (April 2001):
Wichita ranks #1 in manufacturing among metro areas with populations under one million, and 13th overall among the top manufacturing cities in the United States.  Much of the workforce is accustomed to shift work due to the industrial history of the area.
Source: Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (August 2004)

Average Annual Pay - All Sectors.................................... $33,700
$1,860 or 5.2% below the national metro area average of $35,560
Source: Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (2002)

Right-To-Work......................................................................... Yes
Kansas is among the only eight states enacting right-to-work by state constitutional amendment.  Kansas is an ?at will? employment state.
Source:  National Right-To-Work Foundation

Educational Attainment

Nearly 88% of residents age 25 and over are high school graduates.  About 6% hold associate degrees, 19% hold bachelor?s degrees and 6% have advanced degrees.  Another 24% have some college credit.  Wichita public schools are among the first in the U.S. to incorporate workplace skill standards into curriculum development and graduation requirements.  Wichita voters recently approved a $284 Million school bond issue, the largest in Kansas history, to fund school building expansion and improvements such as air conditioning and enhanced student computer facilities.
Source:  U.S. Census Bureau (2000)

Median Age............................................................................ 34.1
National median age
is 35.3
Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2000)

Kansas Corporate Income Tax ? Marginal Rate................... 7.35%
Source: Kansas Dept. of Revenue

Typical Wichita Commercial Property Tax........................ 2.84075%
Percent of appraised market value ($28.41 per $1,000 of appraised value)
Source: Sedgwick County Clerk

Combined State & Local Sales Tax....................................... 6.3%
(Sedgwick County)
Source: Kansas Dept. of Revenue

Kansas Manufacturing Worker?s Comp Cost Index............... 0.904
Nearly 10% below the national average of 1.000
Source: Actuarial & Technical Solutions (2004)

Economical and Reliable Utilities........................................ 99.976%
Wichita area electric power is extremely reliable (99.976% uptime.) Large commercial-industrial rates are generally in the 4.5 ? 6.0 cent per kwh range. Large volume natural gas customers purchasing open market commodity gas can obtain transportation (delivery) rates in the range of $0.05 to $0.07 per Therm ($0.50 to $0.70 per MCF.) Combined water/sewer charges run as low as $2.11 per 1,000 gallons. It is not necessary to qualify for economic development incentives to obtain such rates.
Source: Utility Providers

EPA Air Quality Attainment Area............................................ Yes
Wichita/Sedgwick County is an EPA air quality attainment area in which environmental regulation does not exceed federal EPA requirements.
Source: Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment

Overall Cost of Living Index................................................... 94.9
Over 5% below the national urban average of 100.0
Source: ACCRA Cost of Living Survey (Q1-2004)

New Spec Single-Family Home Average Sale Price........ $217,791
Over $47,000 or 19% lower than the national average price of $249,440
(2,400 sq ft newly site-built multi-level, central air, gas heat, 3 bedroom, 2 full bath, living-dining room,  kitchen with built-in cabinets, family room, fireplace, utility room, finished basement, attached 2-car garage.  8,000 sq ft lot in desirable subdivision)
Source:ACCRA Cost of Living Survey (Q1-2004)

Existing Single-Family Home Median Sale Price.............. $94,100
Nearly $77,000 or 45% below the national median price of $170,800
Source: National Association of Realtors (Q1-2004)

Two-Bedroom Apartment Average Rent................................ $572
More than $140 or 20% lower than the national average of $714
(Unfurnished 950 sq ft, 1? or 2 bath, stove, refrigerator, water/sewer in rent)
Source: ACCRA Cost of Living Survey (Q1-2004)

Violent Crime Rate.................................................................. 626
Property Crime Rate............................................................. 5,462
City of Wichita ? Rates per 100,000 populationWichita?s violent crime rate is about half the average for cities of comparable population.
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Report (Preliminary 2003)

Average One-Way Commute Time.............................. 17 minutes
Approximately 30% shorter than the national average of 24 minutes
Source:  U.S. Census Bureau (2000)

Effective Average Rental Rate
Downtown Office-Class A....................................................... $14.50
Downtown Office-Class B....................................................... $11.25
Suburban Office-New Construction.......................................... $21.00
Suburban Office-Class A........................................................ $20.00
Suburban Office-Class B........................................................ $14.25
Industrial-Bulk Warehouse....................................................... $ 2.75
Industrial-Manufacturing...........................................................$ 2.75
Industrial-Flex....................................................................... $ 8.50

(Rental Rate/Square Foot/Year)
Source: NAI Global Market Report (2004)

Commercial Construction Cost Index..................................... 92.6
Includes materials and installation ? 7% below national average of 100.0
Source: Means Construction Cost Indexes (July 2004)

Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) encompasses Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey and Sumner counties and is the largest metro area in Kansas, with 2003 population of 582,781 persons residing in 245,159 households. About 86% of metro residents live in an urban setting. It is a relatively young population with a median age of 34.8 years (national median age is 36.1 years.) It is relatively affluent, with median household income of $46,932 (national $46,868). Nearly 86% of residents age 25 and over are high school graduates.  More than 5% hold associate degrees, 17% hold bachelors degrees and 8% have advanced degrees. Another 26% have some college credit. Metro area population grew by 46,517 persons or 8.7% from 1993 to 2003.

Sedgwick County (pop. 462,896) is the central county of the MSA (79% of MSA population.) In addition to Wichita, Sedgwick County contains 19 smaller cities ranging in population from 17,893 down to 220. Planning Department population projections are 500,859 in 2010 and 533,946 in 2020. Racial and ethnic composition is comparable to that of the nation. The fastest growth is among Asian-Pacific Islanders and persons of Hispanic origin. Hispanic population growth was 109% from 1990 to 2000 compared to 58% nationally. Asian population growth was 77% compared to 46% nationally. Given higher growth rates for minority populations, the area is forecasted to become even more diverse.

Wichita (pop. 360,715) is the largest city in Kansas. A regional center of business, healthcare and entertainment, approximately 1 million people live within 100 miles of Wichita and 706,559 reside within 50 miles. Planning Department city population projections are 370,992 in 2010 and 393,776 in 2020.

Quality of life and livability impacts not only the attitude of the existing work force, but also the ability of employers to recruit key personnel to the community. Wichita possesses wide diversity of cultural, entertainment and recreational options that compares very well to that of many larger metro areas.


Wichita also possesses what many larger metros lack ? affordability, short and easy commuting and a high degree of public safety.

Morgan Quitno Press compiles its State Overall Livability Rankings annually. The 2004 Rankings are based on 44 factors covering a broad range of economic, educational, health-oriented, public safety and environmental statistics reflecting a state?s basic quality of life. Kansas ranked 11th best in the 2004 rankings. Business Development Outlook?s 1999 Q-32 City Awards ranked Wichita in the top 32 cities nationally for quality of life. Wichita was also named one of ten All-America Cities in 1999 by the National League of Cities. The award recognizes civic excellence in communities where business, volunteer organizations and government work together to address critical local issues. Wichita has been named an All-America City three times since 1960.

Overall Cost of Living

Even with its many amenities, Wichita?s overall cost of living index is a very moderate 94.9, over 5% below the national urban area average of 100.

Housing Costs

Housing is a particular bargain in the Wichita market. The median selling price of existing single-family homes in the Wichita metro area was $105,800 in the 2nd Quarter 2004 survey by the National Association of Realtors. Wichita ranked 13th lowest of 130 reporting metro areas and nearly $78,000 or 42% below the national median price of $183,800.

Newly-built home prices are also quite reasonable. The average sale price of newly-built homes with the following specifications was $202,080 in the 2nd Quarter 2003 ACCRA Cost-of-Living Survey. Wichita?s price was over $47,000 or 19% lower than the national average price of $249,440.

Specs: 2,400 sq. ft. newly site-built single-family brick one-story multi-level, central air, gas heat, 3 carpeted bedrooms, 2 full baths, living-dining room, kitchen with built-in cabinets and cooking island, family room, hardwood floors, fireplace, utility room, finished basement, attached 2-car garage. 8,000 sq. ft. lot in desirable subdivision.

Wichita area apartment rent is also very reasonable. Average two-bedroom apartment rent was $572 in the 1st Quarter 2004 ACCRA Survey. That is over $140 or 20% lower than the national figure of $714.

 

Commuting

Wichita metro area commuting is very easy. Wichita metro area average one-way travel time to work is about 17 minutes (30% shorter than the national average.) The vast majority of Wichita commuters travel via personal automobile. Less than 0.5% of Wichita area commuter trips are made via public transportation. Weather-related traffic disruption is rare. Average annual snowfall is only 15 inches and snow routes are well-maintained. Snowfalls of more than one inch occur on average five times per year. Snowfalls of more than three inches occur on average only twice per year.

Wichita Transit provides bus service within one-quarter mile of 90% of Wichita's residents. Buses run every half-hour during rush hours. Monday-Friday 5:30am ? 7:00pm and Saturday 7:00am ? 5:30pm
(no Sunday service.) One-way commute fare is $1.00.


Public Safety

In both 1996 and 2000 the Wichita Police Department was one of the very few law enforcement agencies worldwide to receive the prestigious Webber Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement. The award recognizes excellence in community policing and investigative skills. According to FBI statistics, Wichita?s violent crime rate is about half the average for cities of comparable population.

Violent Crime Rate .................... 681
Property Crime Rate .............. 6,250
City of Wichita ? Rates per 100,000 population
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Report (Preliminary 2002)

Health Care

Wichita is a regional health care center. The health care industry employs approximately 28,000 people in the metro area, making it the second-largest industry after aircraft manufacturing. The metro area has 19 acute care and free-standing specialty hospitals with approximately 3,000 licensed beds. In addition to these major treatment facilities, there are over 50 nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Numerous specialty clinics provide comprehensive patient care and outpatient surgery. Wichita has a VA Medical Center and hosts the headquarters of the Kansas Health Foundation. The University of Kansas School of Medicine has a training branch in Wichita. Based on 21 key health-related statistics, Kansas placed 17th in the Morgan Quitno Press 2004 Healthiest State Rankings.

Arts and Culture

Wichita has 40 museums and galleries, 10 performing arts theaters, 14 musical organizations and two professional dance companies. The Wichita Symphony Orchestra often performs to capacity crowds. The Metropolitan Ballet features international guest stars. For three days each spring, the Wichita Jazz Festival brings together many prominent jazz artists. Quality theater groups such as Wichita Community Theater, Music Theater of Wichita and Stage One perform throughout the year. Wichita Center for the Arts, Whittier Fine Arts Gallery, Ulrich Museum of Art and the Wichita Art Museum all house extensive fine art collections. The Wichita Art Museum recently completed a $10.5 million renovation. Museums such as the Wichita/Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Kansas Aviation Museum, Old Cowtown Museum, Mid-America All-Indian Center and Kansas African American Museum provide diverse views of the area?s past.

Annual Events

Holiday and ethnic events take place year-round, culminating in the area-wide nine-day Wichita River Festival in May. Beginning as a centennial celebration in 1970, the River Festival has grown steadily, with annual attendance now more than 350,000 people. In 1996, the Festival was named one of the top 100 tourist attractions in North America.

The first annual Wichita Aviation Festival took flight in 2003. Held on the flight line shared by Boeing and McConnell Air Force Base, the event features top-rated airshow acts as well as static displays.

Multi-Cultural Celebration Week is held each spring. This celebration is a week-long showcase including open houses throughout the community and a variety of events spotlighting our area's diversity. Other diversity-based celebrations that Wichitan's enjoy include Cinco de Mayo, Intertribal Pow-Wow, Black Arts Festival, Asian Festival, Junteenth and the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.

Sports

Wichita professional and semi-pro teams represent soccer, golf, hockey, baseball, tennis and football.
Numerous state and private colleges provide collegiate sports entertainment. Major local attractions include a first-class public ice skating arena and pari-mutual greyhound racing.

Wichita?s climate accommodates golfing ten months out of the year. Wichita has ten public golf courses, eight additional golf courses for public play and nine membership-only private courses. Five area golfing communities provide housing on the fairways.

Camping, water sports and fishing are available at two federal reservoirs and one county lake within
30 minutes of Wichita. An additional eighteen recreational areas are within a 200-mile radius of the city.
Because Wichita lies within the central waterfowl flyway, huge flocks of waterfowl are a common sight in our area during the spring and fall. Deer, pheasant, quail, wild turkey and ducks are just a few examples of wild game that may be hunted in the area.

Additional Attractions and Recreation

For those with interests in natural science and technology there are a number of prime attractions.
Exploration Place, Wichita?s $62 million science education center, opened in March 2000. The
Kansas
Cosmosphere in nearby Hutchinson features the largest collection of space program artifacts outside of the Smithsonian Institution. The Lake Afton Observatory features astronomy displays and space- related phenomena. Botanica
, the Wichita Gardens is the city?s living museum of plants and flowers.
The Sedgwick County Zoo is nationally acclaimed in natural habitat design.

Wichita hosts the state's largest amusement park. Joyland offers many exciting rides, entertainment and picnic areas.

Inside Wichita there are over 100 municipal parks covering more than 4,200 acres. They include hiking and bicycle paths, community centers, swimming pools, softball and baseball fields, tennis courts and disc golf courses. Nearly 40% of total park area is ?Wichita Wild Habitat? offering wildlife and plants in natural settings. An additional 50 parks can be found in the Sedgwick County area.

The Wichita Public Library system offers over 900,000 items. It consists of a downtown central branch, two district branches and nine neighborhood branches. Any Kansas resident may hold a Wichita Public Library card free of charge.

Thriving Downtown

The City of Wichita and private developers have invested $250 million in downtown Wichita over the past decade. Downtown Wichita is the economic, cultural and entertainment center of the region. Wichita is the leading convention and tourism center in Kansas. Century II and the Brown Exposition Center provide facilities and meeting rooms for a wide array of local, regional and national meetings. The Greater Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau is headquartered downtown and operates the community?s Visitor Information Center at the Boathouse. Whether you?re looking for a hot night on the town or something more subdued, you?ll find entertaining options throughout the downtown area.

Old Town
Wichita?s premiere entertainment district! Our revitalized historic warehouse district features turn-of-the- century buildings, brick streets, period street lights and boardwalks. Over 200 businesses in a ten-block area create the largest concentrated shopping, dining and entertainment area in Kansas. Old Town features antique shops, specialty retail, restaurants, night clubs, diner theaters and loft apartments.
Old Town also hosts over a dozen festivals and events throughout the year.

Construction of the new Old Town Square is now complete in the Old Town District. The $25 million
Warren Theater cinema project includes a 28,000 sq. ft. six-screen theater with food and beverage service, 500-stall multilevel parking garage and a host of retail shops and entertainment venues.

Shopping

Wichita is a major regional retail center. Wichita?s Towne East and Towne West are the two largest malls in the area, with 140 and 110 stores respectively. Fully 17 area shopping centers contain 100,000 sq. ft. or more of retail space. Other popular shopping venues include the Farm & Art Market, Old Town and fast growing high-end retailers. Recent additions include Bradley Fair on the east side and New Market Square on the west side. An abbreviated list of tenants includes Banana Republic, the Gap, Eddie Bauer,
Talbots, Ann Taylor and
Victoria's Secret.

Religion

There are over 90 denominations in the Wichita area expressing their faith in over 500 places of worship.
Wichita area churches cut across every demographic variable. Services conducted in languages other than English (Spanish and Vietnamese, for example) are common.

Climate

Wichita?s elevation is just over 1,300 feet above sea level. Wichita is in the Central Great Plains where masses of warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico collide with cold dry Artic air masses to create a wide range of weather the year around.

Wichita enjoys a four-season climate. Summer temperatures exceed 90 degrees F for an average of 64 days per year. July is the hottest month with an average daily high of 93 degrees. Winters are usually mild with only brief periods of very cold weather. Below-zero temperatures occur on average only four days per year. January is the coldest month with average daily lows of 19 degrees. Annual average noon humidity is 55%.

Kansas ranks among the top ten ?sunniest? states. On average there are 128 clear days and 97 partly cloudy days per year ? for a total of 225 sunny days per year. Wichita Mid-Continent Airport operates under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) conditions approximately 91% of the time. Average annual rainfall is 29 inches. Average annual snowfall is only 16 inches. Snowfalls of more than 1 inch occur on average five times per year. Snowfalls of more than 3 inches occur on average only twice per year.

Air quality is very good. Wichita is in compliance with all national ambient air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and rarely experiences stagnant air masses of the type that cause smog problems typical of many cities. The prevailing wind is southerly at 12 mph.

Knowledge and Skill Base

Sedgwick County has the second-highest concentration of manufacturing jobs and skilled labor in the country. Manufacturing accounts for roughly 21% of employment - roughly double the national percentage. The labor force is highly skilled, in large part due to the concentration of manufacturing firms in the area using high technology design and production methods. According to a Milken Institute study, Wichita has the highest concentration of aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturing employment (skills) in the nation. Wichita area manufacturers also utilize these precision production skills to produce high value-added products such as industrial-commercial machinery, computer equipment, fabricated metal products, instrumentation and controls, photographic equipment, plastic and composite products, chemicals, petroleum refining equipment and electronic equipment.

The Wichita area workforce has a reputation for productivity and quality as the result of strong training investment. Kansas ranks second in the country in per capita workforce development spending and fourth in the country in gross spending on workforce development. According to Industry Week magazine (April 2001), Wichita ranks #1 in manufacturing among metro areas with populations under one million, and 13th overall among the top manufacturing cities in the United States. In 2001, Wichita won the Aviation Week Quality Award from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.

Wichita MSA Educational Attainment

Nearly 88% of residents age 25 and over are high school graduates. Wichita public schools are among the first in the U.S. to incorporate workplace skill standards into curriculum development and graduation requirements.

Population 25 Years & Over (336,225 Persons) - 100%

Less Than 9th Grade....................................... 3.7%
9th to 12th Grade - No Diploma........................ 8.4%
High School Graduate (Inc. Equivalency)........ 32.4%
Some College - No Degree............................... 24.4%
Associate Degree............................................ 6.1%
Bachelor Degree.............................................. 18.5%
Graduate or Professional Degree.................... 6.4%
Source: Census 2000 Supplemental Survey


Labor Availability

Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had 2003 population of 582,781. Workforce availability is enhanced by the area?s healthy population growth. MSA population grew by 46,517 persons or 8.7% from 1993 to 2003. It is a relatively young population with a median age of 34.1 years (national median age is 35.3 years.) Sedgwick County (pop. 462,896) is the central county of the MSA (79% of MSA population.) Planning Department population projections are 500,859 in 2010 and 533,946 in 2020.

Wichita metro area civilian labor force is approximately 294,800 persons. As of August 2004 the preliminary unemployment rate was 5.5%, representing about 16,230 persons. The Workforce Development Center estimates an additional underemployment rate of at least 3.0%, or about 9,000 persons.

A considerable pool of both high-skilled and semi-skilled manufacturing labor is available due to recent downsizing of the aviation industry. The Wichita area has experienced over 12,000 aerospace industry OEM and subcontractor layoffs since 9/11/2001. Total manufacturing employment is expected to decrease by another 2,000 jobs during 2004.

Ongoing Labor Inflows

Approximately 3,800 high school graduates are produced annually in Sedgwick County alone. There are over 36,400 college students in the Wichita metro area (about 16,500 are part-time.) These institutions graduate roughly 2,500 Bachelor Degrees and 1,900 Associate Degrees annually.

McConnell Air Force Base borders southeast Wichita. Its mission is secure (primarily aerial refueling.) Its presence adds about 2,000 spouses of military personnel to the labor pool. The base also produces about 500 local military discharges annually. These discharged personnel offer excellent technical skills in a wide variety of fields.

Shift Work

Much of the Wichita area workforce is accustomed to shift work due to the area's industrial history. Large manufacturers commonly run traditional 3-shift operations or flexible 24-hour schedules.

Recruitment Assistance

A one-stop system to match job seekers with employers - including comprehensive testing, assessment and counseling is available through the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas. This turn-key service provides qualified, job-ready applicants to new or expanding businesses.

GWEDC Workforce Solutions division offers free or low-cost employee recruitment assistance via a highly successful online job posting service, relocated spouse job search assistance, job fairs, etc.

Labor Costs

The most recent federal statistic (2003) for Wichita MSA average annual pay is $34,120. That is over $2,090 or 5.8% below the national metro area average of $36,210. Actuarial & Technical Solutions, an authority on manufacturing worker's comp costs, assigns Kansas a 2004 cost index of 0.904, nearly 10% below the national average (1.000.)

Wichita Metro Area Occupational Wage Surveys

Kansas Dept. of Human Resources > Kansas Wage Survey ? 2004 Edition (2003 data)
Employment figures are based on survey data and indicate the number of persons employed in each occupation in the Wichita metro area (not sample size.)

Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics > Occupational Employment & Wage Estimates ? 2003
Employment figures are based on survey data and indicate the number of persons employed in each occupation in the Wichita metro area (not sample size.) Wage data including 10th, 25th, 75th and 90th percentile are available in downloadable Excel files.

Fringe Benefits

Local medium to large-size manufacturers typically report that benefits total 30-35% of the wage/salary base. That figure includes Workers Compensation premiums. It does not include the employer-paid portion of Social Security. Cafeteria Plans* in which employees can trade off wage/salary compensation for benefits are common.

Typical benefits: medical insurance (primarily company-paid/partially employee-paid), dental insurance, vision insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, 401K plan (defined contribution - not necessarily including company match) and possibly defined-benefit pension plan, vacation and sick leave. Other benefits sometimes offered - tuition reimbursement for relevant coursework, etc.

* Cafeteria Plan - A benefits arrangement whereby employees can elect in or out of various benefits such as health insurance, dental, vision, disability coverage and/or select from various levels of health insurance coverage (deductibles/co-payments.) An employee can have maximum insurance protection and a somewhat lower hourly wage, or trade off some benefit coverage in exchange for a somewhat higher wage rate ? whatever the employee feels is likely to best serve their particular circumstances.

Labor - Management Relations

Kansas is a Right-To-Work state by 1958 amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The amendment was supported by 93 of the state's 105 counties and passed by a very substantial margin of 90,000 votes. Of the 22 states that prohibit required union membership (Right-To-Work or RTW states), 14 enacted RTW by state statute. Such statutory RTW laws are vulnerable to legislative reversal. Kansas is among the only eight states enacting RTW by state constitutional amendment. As such, Kansas RTW status can only be changed by a vote of the people, and is not vulnerable to legislative reversal. Unions in Kansas cannot attempt to collect "service fees" from workers who choose to not join the union.

There is a long-term trend of decreasing demand for unions in the Sedgwick County area. Labor-management relations are generally mutually cooperative. Work stoppages are relatively rare and almost never locally originated (national strikes.) Currently about 8.4% of the MSA private workforce is unionized (only 4.0% outside of the major aircraft plants), versus 13.5% of the national private sector. The primary private sector union presence is in the four major aircraft plants. There is virtually no union activity among the 200+ small to medium-sized aviation subcontract manufacturers, and a very low level of union activity among office employers. The vast majority of local companies are firmly non-union.

Overall Employment Distribution

The Wichita area has a strong concentration of aerospace manufacturing, however the overall economy contains a diverse mix of industries providing a wide variety of products and services to markets around the globe. There are approximately 11,900 business establishments in Sedgwick County, 97% of which are small- to medium-sized firms with under 100 employees. Service firms, particularly regional health care facilities, are also an important sector for long-term growth.


Manufacturing Base

The Wichita metro area is highly industrialized. Sedgwick County is home to nearly 600 manufacturing firms. Manufacturing accounts for approximately 21% of employment - roughly double the national percentage. According to Industry Week magazine (April 2001), Wichita ranks #1 in manufacturing among metro areas with populations under one million, and 13th overall among the top manufacturing cities in the United States.

Products which flow from Wichita's manufacturers may generally be characterized as high-tech and high value-added. Those products include transportation equipment (primarily aircraft), industrial-commercial machinery, computer equipment, fabricated metal products, instrumentation and controls, photographic equipment, plastic and composite products (an offshoot of aviation industry research & development), chemicals, petroleum refining equipment and electronic equipment.

Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center offers local manufacturers high quality, low cost state-of- the-art engineering assistance. Operating since 1991, MAMTC is a not-for-profit organization that helps manufacturers increase sales, productivity and quality while reducing costs. MAMTC provides hands-on consulting services to small- and medium-sized manufacturers to help them become more competitive. The focus is on manufacturer?s day-to-day production and business issues. MAMTC helps manufacturers implement quality improvement programs, troubleshoot equipment and product problems, locate hard-to- find vendors, economically reduce pollutants and implement cost accounting systems. Other services include technical seminars, product testing, company assessments, industry networks and equipment/ software demonstrations. About 80 Field Engineers, each with ?dirt-under-the-fingernails? industry experience, provide technical assistance services. Together, they have capabilities in hundreds of manufacturing, engineering, operations, management and marketing areas.

Wichita Technology Corporation fosters creation and growth of technology-based businesses. The WTC seed capital fund provides early stage financing for new technologies with promising commercial potential.

Sedgwick County Foreign Trade Zone benefits import/export manufacturing, assembly and distribution operations. The FTZ is a general-purpose zone where foreign and domestic goods are not within U.S. Customs territory. Users are thereby exempt from paying duty or federal excise tax while goods remain in the zone or are exported. If final product is imported into the U.S., import tax or duty is due only at the time of transfer.


Aerospace Manufacturing

About 55% of manufacturing employment (31,600 persons) is in aerospace products ? Wichita is often referred to as the "Air Capital of the World." In 2001, Wichita won the Aviation Week Quality Award from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. Wichita companiesThe Boeing Company, Bombardier Aerospace Learjet, Cessna Aircraft and Raytheon Aircraft produced more than half of all the general aviation aircraft built in the U.S. in 2003. Decades of aircraft production has built a comprehensive network of over 200 precision machine shops, tool & die shops and other subcontractors. According to a Milken Institute study, Wichita has the highest concentration of aerospace manufacturing employment and skills in the nation.

National Institute for Aviation Research NIAR at Wichita State University supports the aviation industry through R&D, testing, certification and technology transfer. Facilities include state-of-the-art research and testing labs, including several wind tunnels. NIAR offers cost-effective confidential proprietary research for clients in private industry. Current research areas include aerodynamics, composite materials and 3-D prototyping.

Wichita MSA Largest Private Industries

These 30 industries accounted for 82% of average 2003 Wichita MSA private employment.

 

Industry

NAICS Code

Average 2003 Employment

1)

Manufacturing ? Transportation Equipment (Primarily Aircraft)

336

32,732

2)

Food Services and Drinking Places

722

19,613

3)

Administrative and Support Services

561

14,357

4)

Ambulatory Health Care Services

621

11,703

5)

Hospitals

622

9,850

6)

Specialty Trade Contractors

238

9,006

7)

Professional and Technical Services

541

8,393

8)

General Merchandise Stores

452

6,673

9)

Merchant Wholesalers (Durable Goods)

423

6,322

10)

Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

623

6,149

11)

Credit Intermediation and Related Activities

522

5,672

12)

Food and Beverage Stores

445

5,381

13)

Manufacturing ? Machinery

333

4,956

14)

Social Assistance

624

4,829

15)

Telecommunications

517

4,099

16)

Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealer

441

4,081

17)

Educational Services

611

3,491

18)

Construction of Buildings

236

3,244

19)

Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods

424

3,236

20)

Manufacturing -- Fabricated Metal Products

332

3,235

21)

Personal and Laundry Services

812

2,765

22)

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction

237

2,487

23)

Management of Companies and Enterprises

551

2,474

24)

Truck Transportation

484

2,431

25)

Repairt and Maintenance

811

2,410

26)

Manufacturing - Food

311

2,390

27)

Insurance Carrier and Related Activities

524

2,369

28)

Manufacturing - Micellaneous

339

2,288

29)

Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores

448

2,137

30)

Miscellaneous Store Retailers

453

2,130

Wichita MSA Largest Manufacturing Industries

These 10 industries accounted for 92% of average 2003 Wichita MSA manufacturing employment. Due to disclosure restrictions only the 10 largest manufacturing subsectors could be listed.

 

Industry

NAICS Code

Average 2003 Employment

1)

Transportation Equipment (Primarily Aircraft)

336

32,732

2)

Machinery

333

4,956

3)

Fabricated Metal Products

332

3,235

4)

Foods

311

2,390

5)

Miscellaneous Products

339

2,288

6)

Computer and Electronic Products

334

1,851

7)

Printing and Related Support Activities

323

1,844

8)

Chemicals

325

1,757

9)

Plastics and Rubber Products

326

1,031

10)

Furniture and Related Products

337

932

Wichita Area Largest Private Employers

Note in the following summary list that 11 of the 25 largest private employers are manufacturers. Click here for a more extensive and detailed list of Wichita area employers. Click here for a more extensive and detailed list of Wichita area manufacturers.

 

Company

Product-Service

Local FT Employment

1)

Boeing Aircraft Wichita

Aircraft Component Manufacturer

12,300

2)

Cessna Aircraft Company

Aircraft Manufacturer

8,000

3)

Raytheon Aircraft Company

Aircraft Manufacturer

7,000

4)

Via Christi Regional Medical Center

Health Care

4,795

5)

Bombardier Aerospace Learjet

Aircraft Manufacturer

2,500

6)

Koch Industries

Oil & Chemical Equip. Manufacturer

1,800

7)

Wesley Medical Center

Health Care

1,700

8)

York International

HVAC Equpment Manufacturer

1,153

9)

The Coleman Company

Recreational Products Manufacturer

1,100

10)

Bank of America

Financial Services

1,007

11)

Wichita Clinic PA

Health Care

997

12)

SBC

Telecommunications

876

13)

T-Mobile Call Center Wichita

Wireless Communications

867

14)

Cargill Meat Solutions

Meat Processing

750

15)

Intrust Bank

Financial Services

724

16)

Engenio Information Technologies

Data Storage Equip. Manufacturer

661

17)

Cox Communications

Cable TV, Phone & Internet

624

18)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Reservation Center

603

19)

Love Box Inc.

Corrugated Packaging Manufacturer

562

20)

CNH America LLC

Construction Machine Manufacturer

500

21)

Westar Energy

Electric Utility

478

22)

Ritchie Cos.

Construction

473

23)

Protection One

Security Systems & Monitoring

456

24)

Vulcan Chemicals

Industrial Chemicals Manufacturer

405

25)

CCH Inc.

Tax and Business Law Information

400

Website copyright ? 2003 Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. All Rights Reserved.


Wichita area military installations play an important role in our community. In addition to being good neighbors and helpful friends, they make a hefty contribution to our economy...nearly one-half billion dollars last year. Our military's presence in our community commands our gratitude and respect.

Since 1954, McConnell Air Force Base has been a vital part of the Wichita community. And why not? Wichita is the Air Capital of the World. We're proud of McConnell and the men and women who work there. Their commitment and dedication played a considerable role in the awarding of the new mission for McConnell AFB as the world's largest KC-135R supertanker base.

McConnell AFB is home to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing of the Air Mobility Command. The 931st Air Reserve Group is at home there. Across the field is the 184th Air Refueling Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard.

The 89th Army Regional Support Command Headquarters has a strong presence in Wichita as well. The reservists serve as the command post for Army Reservists in four states. In addition, there are a number of Kansas Army National Guard armories located in the Wichita area.


McConnell Air Force Base Banner

 

Keeper of the Plains

Located in America's heartland, airmanship in the Wichita area began in the first decade of the century. In 1916, as the US prepared to enter the World War, the city of Wichita started buying land to build a municipal airport.

In October 1924, Wichita hosted the National Air Congress that attracted over 100,00 people. The event highlighted an air race of 47 military and civilian aircraft participating, including the locally produced Swallow. After this nationally recognized event, several new aircraft manufacturing companies opened. Firms such as Travel Air, Beech Aircraft's predecessor, Boeing, and Cessna began operations. With this growth of aviation in Wichita, aviators began pushing for the proposed municipal airport's construction. Construction crews broke ground on 28 June 1929; however, the Great Depression delayed the terminal's completion of almost six years.

Although only one hangar and three small warehouses available for use, the Army Air Force Material Center (Material Command) established its headquarters in the Wichita Municipal Airport Administration Building in March 1942. The Material Command chose this site to take advantage of the airport's five 50 foot wide runways, each with a 60,000 pound wheel load capacity. In September 1945, the Material Center moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma eventually becoming the Air Force Logistics Center at what is now Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the 4156th Army Air Field Base Unit arrived at Wichita to service and maintained transient and locally based aircraft. One year later, this unit disbanded, and the Air Force would not return until 1951.

Since Wichita Municipal bordered the Boeing plant, the Air Force moved back into the site in June 1951 and changed the name to Wichita AFB. This time, the Air Training Command's 3520th Combat Crew Training Wing (CCTW), under the command of Col H.R. Spicer, began training Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber aircrews. For the first six months after the activation, a "tent city" housed assigned personnel. This "city" consisted of 174 tents, a fire tower, and a few leased buildings in Wichita.


From 1954 to 1956, a $22 million construction program turned the old airport into one of the Air Force's major bases. These improvements included 490 Capehart style housing units, ten miles of paved streets, and two hangars. Other improvements included clubs, theater, commissary, bank, hospital, and base exchange. In 1958 4547 CCTW, under SAC, replaced the 3520th.

The Flying McConnells

In April 1954, the base became McConnell Air Force Base in honor of two of the three "Flying McConnell Brothers" of World War II. The brothers, from Wichita, entered the Army Air Corps together during WW II. The trio gained fame as "three of a kind." Second Lieutenant Thomas McConnell perished in July 1943, when his B-24 Liberator crashed into a fog covered mountain while en route to his home base in Guadalcanal after a bombing mission. Captain Fred McConnell died when his private plane crashed in October 1945 near Garden Plains, Kansas, while on his way to Garden Plains Air Force Base. Edwin passed away in August 1997 at the age of 76. During a rededication ceremony on 14 June 1999, base officials added Edwin's name to the installation, making McConnell the namesake of all three brothers.

Strategic Air Command

During this time, SAC selected site for 18 Titan II missile complexes for the newly activated 381st Strategic Missile Wing (SMW). Using McConnell as a base, the silos formed a ring from the northeast and south to the west 20 to 50 miles from the installation. Construction crews finished the project in the early 1960s, costing $80 million. 

Tactical Air Command

In October 1962, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) started at McConnell and flew the F-100C Super Sabre, and later the F-105D Thunderchief. This wing inactivated in 1964.  

Operations in South East Asia

Two years later, the 388th began operating from Korat RTAFB, Thailand. The 23rd TFW, replaced the 388th. It trained F-105 crews for combat in Southeast Asia. The 355 TFW transferred from George AFB, California, in July 1964, joining the 23 TFW at McConnell under the 835th Air Division. Squadrons of both wings saw action in Vietnam.

The base received a new mission in April 1971 with the arrival of the 91st Air Refueling Squadron and their KC-135A Stratotankers.. In July 1972, the 23 TFW departed for England AFB, Louisiana, making the 381 SMW host unit. The 384th Air Refueling Wing's (ARW) arrived began its tour McConnell AFB in December 1972.

In October 1981, President Reagan announced that the Air Force would phase out its Titan II ICBMs. In early 1983, the 384 ARW's leadership learned that it would be the first wing to receive the R model KC-135 tanker and the B-1B Lancer bomber. On 8 August 1986, the 381 SMW inactivated.

The 384 ARW became the host organization and redesignated to the 384th Bombardment Wing (Heavy) in the summer of 1987. The 91st Air Refueling Squadron inactivated later that year, and the 384th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) became the sole refueling unit. The first B-1B touched down at McConnell on 4 January 1988 and one year later the first Lancer aircrew and aircraft assumed alert duty.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait. McConnell members deployed throughout the area of responsibility to help eject the invaders from the small kingdom.

1991 Tornado Changes the Landscape

On 26 April 1991, a tornado devastated McConnell. The cyclone destroyed 102 base housing units and nine major facilities including the base hospital as it traveled from southwest to northeast. Despite the colossal property damage, there were 16 reported injuries and no deaths. As a result of the tornado, the base constructed new facilities to replace the destroyed base services. Three years later, the prize of that construction, Emerald City opened up, containing the bowling center, officer and enlisted clubs, and various other services.

Change Becomes Common

In mid-1992 the 384th became the 384th Bomb Wing. At the same time, the Air Force restructured the major commands. The 384 BW and the 384 ARS moved from the inactivated SAC. The 384 BW moved under the newly activated Air Combat Command (ACC) with the 384 ARS and joined the Air Mobility Command (AMC) remaining at McConnell as an associate unit.

In May 1992, the Air Force announced more significant changes McConnell. The Kansas Air National Guard (the 184th Fighter Group), long a resident of McConnell, would lose their F-16s and gain the B-1B bombers and become the 184th Bomb Group. In January 1994, the 22 ARW assumed the role as host wing, moving without personnel and equipment from March AFB, California. The 384 BW became the 384th Bomb Group until the unit transferred all of its Lancers to the air reserve component before inactivating on 30 September 1994.

On 1 January 1995, the 931st Air Refueling Group (ARG) joined Team McConnell. The Air Force Reserve associate unit provides aircrews while the 22d furnish the maintenance crews and aircraft

Since 1996, McConnell served as the test site for the PACER CRAG avionics modernization program. The next year, the base became the test unit for the multi point refueling. In the same year, the Republic of Singapore's Air Force chose McConnell over two other American bases to train their KC-135 aircrews and maintenance.

In 2002, as part of a plan to reduce and consolidate the Air Force's B-1 fleet, the 184th Bomb Wing's B-1s were transferred to other bases. In September 2002, the 184th took on a new mission flying KC-135s and was officially designated the 184th Air Refueling Wing.

McConnell came a long way since the days of landing planes in hayfields to living in tents in the 1950s to surviving the devastation of the 1991 tornado. The professionals of Team McConnell and the 22 ARW have a rich history and a proud future.

Aviation Features


KANSAS AVIATION 2000 REFERENCE GUIDE

BOEING...

Background: The Boeing Company is the largest aerospace company in the world, as measured by total sales, and one of the nation's leading exporters. Boeing is the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft, and the nation's largest NASA contractor. The company's capabilities in aerospace also include helicopters, electronic and defense systems, missiles, rocket engines, launch vehicles, and advanced information and communication systems.

Boeing Wichita is one of The Boeing Company's prime aircraft engineering, fabrication, assembly, and modification centers. Its operations encompass both commercial and military work.

Current Programs: Boeing Wichita performs commercial aircraft production and assembly support for most Boeing commercial jetliners. Wichita produces about 75% of the 737, and designs and builds nacelles and nose sections for the 747, 757, 767, and 777 jetliners. The new Next-Generation 737, the world's most popular commercial jet transport, has secured more than 1,300 orders.

Modification and structural updates on military and commercial aircraft are accomplished in Wichita, Kansas.

Military programs -- Wichita Division provides support for Boeing military products, including Airborne Laser, updates on the KC-135 tanker program, upgrades for the AWAC's and B-52 bomber, and commercial derivative work, including maintenance of Air Force One.

Kansas Statistics: Boeing employment is approximately 16,900; Payroll at $1,000,000,000; and Supplies Purchased at $495,000,000.

For more information on current Boeing news, log onto http://www.boeing.com/

BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE...

Background: Bombardier Aerospace -- encompassing Learjet, Canadair, de Havilland, and Shorts -- is the world's third largest civil aircraft manufacturer. The company designs, markets and supports the world's broadest line of business jets -- from the Learjet 31A light jet to the ultra long-range Bombardier Global Express. Wichita is the production site for Learjet aircraft as well as one of seven Business Aviation Service centers and the dedicated center for all of the company's aircraft certification flight-testing.

Current Programs: A pioneer in the business jet industry, Learjet, Inc. has delivered more than 2,000 airplanes worldwide since 1964. Learjet currently manufactures and markets the high-performance Learjet 31A, the transcontinental Learjet 60, and the new Learjet 45.

The Wichita production site has also been selected by Bombardier Aerospace to assemble the company's newest business jet, the Continental. This new super-midsize jet will be produced by a consortium of partners from around the world.

The Bombardier Flight Test Center in Wichita is the world's busiest civil flight test facility. It certified at least one aircraft per year throughout the decade of the 1990's.

Currently, the center is anticipating the arrival of the new Continental business jet. Its nearly 600 employees are also engaged in post-certification test programs on recently-certified aircraft, including the Global Express, Dash 8-400 turboprop and Learjet 45.

Bombardier Aviation Services operates a factory service center in Wichita that provides a complete range of maintenance and support services for more than 600 Bombardier business aircraft annually. One of seven BAS facilities worldwide, the Wichita site is also engaged in completions of Learjet and Challenger aircraft.

Kansas Statistics: Employment is approximately 4,000; Payroll at $175,000,000; and Supplies Purchased at $150,000,000.

For more information on current Bombardier Aerospace news, log onto http://www.learjet.com/

CESSNA...

Background: The Cessna Aircraft Company, the pioneer of general aviation, currently enjoys worldwide leadership in its addressed markets. 2000 will mark Cessna's fifteenth consecutive year of sales and employment growth.

2000 is the 73rd year in which the Cessna Aircraft Company has maintained its worldwide headquarters in Wichita. Also located in Wichita are Cessna's marketing and manufacturing organizations, the Cessna Finance Corporation and Cessna's Award-Winning 21st Street Training and Learning Campus. Additionally, Cessna's Wichita-based service and parts distribution organizations support the company's existing worldwide fleet of over 3,000 Citations and 150,000 piston and turboprop aircraft.

In July of 1996, Cessna opened its new single engine assembly facilities in Independence, Kansas and now employs 1,000 people there. At Independence, Cessna manufactures four single engine piston aircraft: the 172, 182, 206 and the turbo-charged 206.

Current Programs: Cessna manufactures or has under development the industry's most extensive line of business jets -- the CitationJet, Citation CJ1, Citation CJ2, Citation Bravo, Citation Encore, Citation Excel, Citation Sovereign, Citation VII and the world's fastest business jet, the Citation X. The Cessna Caravan, which recently exceeded 1,100 units shipped and is the best selling turboprop utility aircraft in the marketplace, is also manufactured in Wichita.

Kansas Statistics: Employment is approximately 12,000; Payroll at $528,000,000; and Supplies Purchased at $196,800,000.

For more information on current Cessna Aircraft news, log onto http://www.cessna.textron.com/

RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT...

Background: Raytheon Aircraft, a subsidiary of Raytheon Company, is the world's leading business and special mission aviation company, meeting a wide variety of aviation requirements for businesses, governments and individuals. With some 17,000 employees worldwide and more than $2.6 billion in annual sales, the majority of its operations are located in Kansas.

Kansas manufacturing sites include Andover, Salina and Wichita, which is also the company's worldwide headquarters. Raytheon also maintains U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army equipment at Ft. Riley, McConnell Air Force Base and Forbes AFB. Raytheon Aircraft is setting the industry standard in business aviation by introducing high-technology, composite-fuselage aircraft that combine unequalled performance with outstanding passenger comfort.

In the last five years, the company has invested more than $350 million in facilities and machinery at its Wichita headquarters.

Current Programs: Raytheon Aircraft's commercial product lines include the new super mid-size business jet the Hawker Horizon, the Hawker 800XP medium jet, the Beechjet 400A medium light jet, and the new Raytheon Premier 1 entry-level light jet. Turboprop products include the 1900D airliner and the Beech King Air series -- the most popular twin turboprop ever, with more than 5,200 sold. The Beech Baron and Beech Bonanza piston aircraft round out the company's commercial line.

Raytheon Aircraft is also building more than 700 T-6A Texan II aircraft to provide primary training for U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force pilots, and for export to international customers. Internationally, special mission versions of the Hawker 800XP's serve in search-and-rescue airborne electronic intelligence roles. On the service side, Raytheon Aircraft's two-year-old subsidiary, Raytheon Travel Air, offers fractional ownership in the new King Air B200's, Beechjet 400A's and Hawker 800XP's, and already has more than 400 customers.

Kansas Statistics: Employment is approximately 10,720 w/10,000 @ Wichita and 720 @ MSalina; Payroll at $457,000,000; and Supplies Purchased at $300,000,000.

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University, founded in 1895 as a Congregational institution, is distinguished from other state supported schools in Kansas by its urban setting. Wichita State's location in the largest city in Kansas enhances the traditional classroom experience by providing students greater opportunities in resources, contacts with business and government leaders, employment, and internships.

With an enrollment of more than 15,000, Wichita State prides itself on specialized attention to each student. Although the University's students come from almost every state in America and 110 foreign countries, 87 percent are from Kansas, representing nearly all counties in the state.

The 330-acre campus is modern and accessible and at the same time retains the flavor of the University's 107-year heritage. More than 60 pieces of sculpture by internationally known artists adorn the campus. Personnages Oiseaux, a colorful mural created by the great Spanish artist Joan Mir?, is displayed on the wall of the Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art.

During the past 20 years, Wichita State has more than doubled its instructional space, adding major buildings for art, engineering, health sciences, biological sciences, physical education, music, dance, and liberal arts and sciences.

Approximately 120 social and special interest clubs provide opportunities for students to meet and work with others who share their interests. Nine national sororities and 11 national fraternities are active on campus.

Wichita State University (WSU) is a Division I institution and fields teams in tennis, cross-country, basketball, track, golf, crew, bowling, men's baseball and women's volleyball and softball. The men?s and women?s bowling teams have won numerous national championships, including the men?s 2003 title. The university?s mascot name, the Shockers, reflects the university?s heritage: Early students earned money by shocking, or harvesting, wheat in nearby fields, hence the earlier mascot name of Wheatshockers, which has been shortened to Shockers.

Wichita State has 479 full-time faculty and 41 part-time faculty. Of the total, 73 percent have earned the highest degree in their field. Of all undergraduate credit hours, 62 percent are taught by full-time faculty. The average age of our faculty is 50; 61 percent are males and 39 percent are females.


Student Demographic

The average age of freshmen at Wichita State is 19; the average age of all undergraduate students is 24. Approximately half of the students at WSU attend full-time, while the other half attend part-time and take advantage of gaining work experience at such local companies as Boeing; Raytheon Aircraft; Cessna Aircraft; Coleman, Inc.; Bank of America; Bombardier Aerospace-Learjet; Via Christi Regional Medical Center; Wesley Medical Center; and Koch Industries. Wichita State students also take advantage of hundreds of campus activities, plus they enjoy the largest selection of malls, shops, restaurants, clubs, golf courses, amusement parks, and movie theaters in the entire state.

Wichita State University offers more than 60 undergraduate degree programs in more than 200 areas of study in six undergraduate colleges: W. Frank Barton School of Business, College of Education, College of Engineering, College of Fine Arts, College of Health Professions, and Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Graduate School offers an extensive program including 44 master's degrees which offer study in more than 100 areas; a specialist in education degree; and doctoral degrees in applied mathematics; chemistry; communicative disorders and sciences; human factors and community/clinical psychology; educational administration; and aerospace, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering. See a listing of the programs and degrees offered at Wichita State University. Wichita State?s cooperative education program, which offers students the opportunity to earn credit along with job experience, is among the largest and most successful such programs in the Midwest. Students are placed not only in local companies, but also at such agencies as National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA)

Committed to fulfilling the needs of each student, WSU offers the traditional fall and spring semesters; it has the largest number of evening and summer course offerings in the Kansas Board of Regents' system. The summer session features a flexible time format with a two-week pre-session and two four-week sessions held concurrently with the regular eight-week session. During the traditional sixteen-week semester, an increasing number of courses are offered in an eight-week, four-week, or shorter format.
Although WSU's first commitment is to excellence in instruction, it has an equally strong commitment to excellence in research and public service as integral parts of its educational mission. Its National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR
) continues to do important research in such areas as icing and aging aircraft.

About Newman University
Newman is a growing, progressive, regional Catholic liberal arts university focused on preparing you for a successful career and a worthwhile and rewarding life. We care about your future. Our programs challenge you to explore and reach your potential. And best of all, you don't have to do it alone. At Newman, you can count on developing close mentoring relationships with your professors. You'll learn from faculty who are passionate about teaching, and you'll find yourself discussing issues with them both inside and outside the classroom. Newman will prepare you for personal, professional and civic success. Newman is here for you. Newman is about you.

Fall 2003 Freshmen Enrollment*
by Academic Performance 
  35% had ACT test scores of 24 or higher; 47% had a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher.
by Gender 
  59% female, 41% male.
by Ethnicity   68% Caucasian, 5% African American, 10% Hispanic, 2% Asian/Pacific Islander/Other, 2% Native American.

by Religion
   48% Catholic, 52% Baptist, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Muslim and other faiths.

* First-time, full-time high school graduates

Where is Newman University?
In the heart of Midwest, within easy reach of most major cities. Click here for complete address, maps and driving directions to NU.

From Wichita to- 
  Austin, TX - 527 miles
  Chicago, IL - 735 miles
  Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX - 364/360 miles
  Denver, CO - 522 miles
  Houston, TX - 603 miles
  Kansas City, MO - 198 miles
  Lincoln, NE - 281 miles
  Little Rock, AR - 451 miles
  New Orleans, LA - 969 miles
  Oklahoma City, OK - 162 miles
  Omaha, NE - 311 miles
  Phoenix, AZ - 1053 miles
  San Antonio, TX - 545 miles
  Santa Fe, NM - 581 miles
  Shreveport, LA - 548 miles
  St. Louis, MO ? 445
  Topeka, KS - 141 miles
  Tulsa, OK - 177 miles

Friends University is a comprehensive, independent university. It is the largest, independent institution of higher learning in Kansas. Founded in 1898, Friends provides a non-denominational, Christian environment for students of all ages.

Location
Friends University's main campus is located in Wichita,
Kansas. The beautiful, park-like, 52-acre campus exists in a quiet residential community that offers easy access to the benefits of a large city. In addition to the Wichita campus, Friends University also has facilities located in Topeka, Kansas, Mission, Kansas, and Independence, Missouri, that offer programs to adult students. Friends also offers these programs in other cities around the state.

Enrollment
The University's Fall 2002 enrollment of 3,112 students makes Friends the largest independent university or college in
Kansas. Enrollment has increased rapidly in recent years, more than doubling in the past 10 years. Classes are small, ranging in size from as few as 10 to a maximum of 50. The student population is diverse, with a variety of ages, states and cultures represented.

Religious Affilitation
A nondenominational Christian university, Friends is not affiliated with a specific religious organization. The University was originally founded in 1898 by the Society of Friends (better known as the Quakers) who operated the University until the 1930s. At that time, governance of the institution was turned over to an independent Board of Trustees. Representatives from the Society of Friends continue to serve on the board, but the church no longer controls the institution. Friends University provides a welcoming Christian environment for students of all denominations.

Academics
Friends University offers associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees through three colleges: the College of Adult and Professional Studies, College of Business, Arts, Science and Education, and the Graduate School. Five baccalaureate degrees are offered with more than 40 degree options. The University also offers nine master's programs. Five degree completion programs are offered for adult students who already have some college credit and want to complete their degrees while maintaining full-time employment. The University also offers a program for working adults who want to complete the first two years of college. Friends University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools,
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, 800-621-7440. Some programs also have program-specific accreditation.

Campus & Facilities
There are 17 buildings on the Wichita campus, including the 117-year-old Davis Administration Building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The University is currently undertaking a $7 million renovation of this historic building. The Olive White Garvey Business and Technology Building (opened in October 1996) features cutting-edge technology and design to enhance students' ability to learn. Friends has recently expanded its science and fine arts facilities and constructed a new building for its marriage and family graduate programs.

Miscellaneous Facts

  • Friends University was named for four years in a row as one of the 100 Best College Buys in the United States by The Student Guide to America's 100 Best College Buys, a publication based on research by Institutional Research and Evaluation in Gainesville, Ga.
  • When it was built in the late 1800s, Davis Administration Building (then known as University Hall) was the largest educational facility under one roof west of the Mississippi. The Richardson Romanesque building is best known for its 148-foot clock tower.
  • Friends is one of only a handful of colleges and universities that offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ballet. Another program unique among higher education is the Bachelor in Zoo Science program. This program features a partnership with the Sedgwick County Zoo.
  • Friends has made a significant commitment to improving facilities, landscaping and technology for the benefit of students during the past 10 years.
  • Students have access to state-of-the-art technology that is the most advanced among Kansas? private institutions.
  • Landscaping improvements have greatly enhanced the park-like appearance of campus, including the creation of the Rose Window Plaza area in front of Davis Administration Building.
  • The historic Davis Administration Building is undergoing a $7 million restoration to ensure the Wichita landmark will be able to serve students for another 100 years.
  • Friends University's Singing Quakers are an internationally acclaimed vocal organization. The group has performed at the White House and Carnegie Hall and has toured nationally and internationally.
  • Friends was one of the first colleges and universities in Kansas to offer a unique program specifically structured to allow adults to complete their bachelor's or master's degree coursework in two years or less by attending class one night a week.
  • Friends has maintained reasonable, moderate tuition increases in recent years. In 1990, the University was the third most expensive private institution of higher education in Kansas. Today, Friends is in eighth place in a ranking of tuition and fees among 13 private universities and colleges in Kansas.
  • Friends University's endowment has grown from $3 million in 1990 to approximately $22.2 million in 2002.
  • Friends University's athletic teams are known as the Friends University Falcons. At one time the University's teams were known as the ?Fighting Quakers,? a historical oxymoron.
  • Friends celebrated its centennial from September 1998 to May 1999.

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