City approves funding for industrial job cluster research

Wichita (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – The city is looking to find ways to diversify its economy by finding other industries that could grow and thrive in the Air Capital.

The City Council approved funding to identify what they call industrial clusters that could help create jobs for thousands of people. It’s looking to a consulting firm called Starnet to study industrial job clusters that could be expanded and potentially create jobs.

“They’re going to identify the clusters that we have, and then they’re going to try to convene the business folks in those clusters about what they need to be successful in this environment to be able to compete globally,” Andy Schlapp, executive director of government relations and the Board of Trustees at Wichita State, said.

Six civic groups, including the city, would pay $234,929 total to Starnet. The city’s share is $42,986 to take a regional approach for diversifying the economy. Other groups funding the research include Wichita State, the Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Wichita Economic Development Corporation, and the Downtown Development Corporation. Sedgwick County is expected to vote on funding in the coming weeks.

“The idea again is to build on the skill sets that are available in the region and to use that base to move into other manufacturing areas as well as other professional service areas,” Wichita city manager Robert Layton said.

With potentially thousands of skilled workers out of a job because of the economic slowdown, finding other work where their skills can be used could help create new jobs.

“It’s about identifying that cluster and seeing what other industries can use that expertise in what they’re doing to compete globally,” Schlapp said.

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