Economic development leaders want $90 million jobs war chest

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Wichita, Kan. -- Wichita business leaders say the city needs to compete better with other cities for new jobs.

Gary Schmitt, Chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Council says, "We feel like we need a $90 million jobs fund."

Schmitt says the money could be used to entice companies to relocate here. He says it might help pay relocation costs, for buildings, job training and equipment.

He says since the 2008 recession Wichita has lost 31,000 jobs. But, Schmitt says, while other Midwest cities have recovered jobs since the recession, Wichita remains stuck.

"We had a tremendous loss of jobs. The community saying you've got to do something different. And we're saying we want to come up with a plan."

Schmitt points to a survey of Wichita residents done by WSU's Hugo Wall School listing economic development and job creation as their number two local priority right behind having a reliable source of water.

He's counting on that support when it comes time to funding jobs war chest.

"Our war chest you might say is very, very small in relation to other communities."

"The way we've done economic development in the past is sort of like going to a gun fight with a knife. It just doesn't work."

One suggestion he brings up might be a five year quarter cent sales tax to raise the money.

The plan will be brought up for discussion with city council members at a Tuesday work shop at city hall.

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