Topeka made national economic development news Friday when CEOs for Cities selected the city as its September Changemaker.
The monthly changemaker is selected from across the country and is a CEOs for Cities member “who inspires us to keep working to make our cities great,” the organization’s website said. The article on Topeka highlighted everything from downtown renovations to Momentum 2022 to growth in public-private partnerships, the national organization.
Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO of the chamber and GO Topeka, said he’s pleased to see Topeka receive recognition. But even more importantly, site-selection consultants, developers and major companies who choose locations for businesses look at this publication.
“This went out nationwide. My Facebook and email and texts have blown up this morning,” he said. “People all over the country are reading about Topeka. To be recognized in Topeka is one thing, for us all to be excited. To be recognized from an organization like that … Right now, if I’m in Wichita and I’m in Kansas City, what I’m hearing is people are coming up to me and saying, ‘I keep hearing about all this good stuff happening in Topeka.’
“We’ve not arrived. But we’re on the right track,” Pivarnik said.
Typically, it’s an individual, but Topeka was chosen as a cluster, and CEOs for Cities interviewed three economic development leaders: Curtis Sneden, Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce vice president; Kayla Bitler, strategic coordinator with GO Topeka; and Michaela Saunders, vice president of brand strategy with Visit Topeka.
Questions in the article published online Friday ranged from what inspires each to be a community changemaker to why Topeka is poised to grow and change.
Here’s a snippet of what each said about opportunities and growth in the capital city.
Sneden: “Because of the inclusive nature of the economic development process and other initiatives, we are really reaching out to all members of the community. We are on the cusp of a really profound opportunity to bring together our community across a variety of different types of lines: socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, generational. We are really at a moment where the tent is big and everyone who wants to help build the future is welcome to come in.”
Bitler: “Because right now, there is a lot of blank slate and a lot of opportunity. There are opportunities for businesses, for investors, and there are a lot of opportunities for quality of place and quality of life developments. If you come into the community right now, you become a part of the community, and you can become a part of change.”
Saunders: “There is a lot of growth in public/private partnerships in Topeka. There are really committed people in the private sector who are willing to create opportunities and seize opportunity when they see it. This makes a huge difference.”
To read the entire article, visit www.ceosforcities.org.