Wichita is not just a cluster of tall buildings where rivers and railroad lines meet. Wichita is a community — a community that has been, like every U.S. community, gravely affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
On the local economic front, Wichita has been hit hard. Three of the city’s four aircraft manufacturers have issued layoff announcements. According to business forecasts, Boeing Wichita, Raytheon Aircraft and Bombardier Aerospace plan to complete more than 7,000 layoffs by mid-2002.
In response, the partners behind WichitaNetwork.com — the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County, the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce and Wichita State and its alumni association — have launched a new channel on their regional web portal and job information source: Wichita Pulls Together.
“This initiative reflects the fact that the university and the alumni association are part of the Wichita-area family,” says WSU President Don Beggs. “As part of that family, we want to try to help those who are facing difficult times. We want to keep both quality companies and individuals in the area. That’s what this project is about.”
Bruce Erickson, WSU’s executive director for marketing and communications, says, “At WSU we consider ourselves fortunate to have such a collaborative relationship with the community. An important part of that collaboration is our commitment to the Wichita Network and the services it offers.”
WichitaNetwork.com has been a helpful site for job seekers and an indispensable information portal about Wichita since April 2000, when the partners launched the site primarily to promote and match area employers with skilled employees.
“It’s a valuable tool,” says Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce President Tim Witsman, who, along with Beggs, conceived the idea for the network. “Sometimes we have this disconnect between programs and the people they’re designed to help. Anything that can be done to make those linkages easier to use is great.”
The heart of the network is Career Central, a powerful job search tool. Through links to NationJob and CareerBuilder, users can click through job listings by Wichita employers. Another feature of Career Central is the Career Network, a résumé posting service that walks users through the process of creating an online résumé, which is placed in a database available to Chamber members looking to fill job vacancies.
Wichita Pulls Together is a further progression of the website’s purpose. It offers centralized information for Wichitans seeking employment and assistance. Users can access the above-mentioned tools as well as links to information on applying for unemployment benefits and links to charitable organizations. They can download kits to help with writing résumés and more.
“We’ve seen a shift in our priorities since Sept. 11,” says Sedgwick County Commission Chair Carolyn McGinn. “We’ve been reminded that we must work together as a community to support one another. People are coming together to provide financial assistance, employment resources, mental health needs, emergency preparedness information and more that will make our community stronger.”
The Wichita Network also offers virtual tours of the city, and a weekly newsletter, which features job listings and other news, highlights Wichita’s best offerings. Users can connect directly to the Wichita Pulls Together page by pointing their web browsers to www.wichitanetwork.com/together.
“As a community,” says Wichita Mayor Bob Knight ’70, “we are rallying together to support our neighbors and our friends through this period of uncertainty. While we continue to make progress by bringing new companies to this great city, there is still much to do. The creation of a web presence to help us connect jobs to the people who need them is one example of how our community pulls together.”