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September 19, 2014

YPW Board Supports Sales Tax Referendum

By Suzy Finn, YPW Executive Director

Suzy Finn - YPW Executive Director

In an historic step for this organization, the Young Professionals of Wichita Board of Trustees voted this week to publicly support the proposed 1-cent sales tax referendum that City of Wichita residents will vote on during the November 4 general election.

The Board supports this referendum because it believes this sales tax will be a tool to help the organization accomplish its mission to attract, engage, and retain diverse young talent to effect positive change for a brighter future. In particular, the needs for more, diverse job options and a strong public transit system have previously been identified as keys to accomplishing the YPW mission.

In the 2012 Priority Project surveys (commissioned by YPW, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and Visioneering Wichita), Wichita citizens identified the need to “diversify our local economy by keeping industries already here and recruiting new jobs in new industries.”

The 2010 Destination ICT study had recommendations for us in three major areas, including the need to “create Wichita as a more attractive and sustainable place to live, work, and play. We can accomplish this by ensuring that we continue to support downtown revitalization and the improvement of public transit.”

It was reiterated during the recent city-to-city trip to Austin that you have to have a strong economic base to fund quality of life issues. We believe that if we support development of the basics needed for economic growth now, continued improvements in the quality of life areas that are important to young professionals will follow.

Any members interested in supporting the campaign should visit the Yes Wichita! website for more information on how to do so.

YPW has not previously taken a stance on issues in front of the community for a vote, but rather has taken on the role of educating our members on both sides of an issue. Prior to taking this vote, we hosted a Pro/Con Forum about the sales tax referendum that featured speakers from the supporting and opposing sides of the issue to inform the general membership and continue to fulfill that role. You can view more information from both sides on the YPW website.

As a membership organization, we acknowledge that it is difficult to fairly represent the views and opinions of all 2,371 members and that not all of our members and supporters are on the “yes” side of the issue. However, we felt the opportunity to truly effect positive change for a brighter future by supporting this referendum was important enough to take this step.

With that in mind, we want to make sure our members, investors, sponsors, and other financial supporters understand that no YPW funds will go toward supporting the campaign. We will continue to educate our members on the issue, provide opportunities to register to vote or request advance ballots at events, and occasionally share information from the Yes Wichita! campaign that speaks directly to our areas of interest in the sales tax initiative.

Most importantly, we want you all to understand that this will not shift our focus from the important work that all of our volunteers and members are doing to continue to create social and professional connections and elite opportunities to grow and lead.

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