Brett Oetting and Amber Gentry Oetting: Our city’s narrative begins downtown

Brett Oetting and Amber Gentry Oetting are passionate about telling downtown Topeka’s story. (Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal)

Brett Oetting and Amber Gentry Oetting are passionate about telling the story of downtown Topeka, whether it’s to friends and family or on social media.

 

“Our city’s narrative begins downtown, and it begins with all of us sharing that story,” the couple said.

An essential component in that story is the people.

“For me, our downtown shines at its very best when natives, locals and visitors completely transform the area by just showing up. It’s literally what gives our downtown life,” Gentry Oetting said.

Last year, while Oetting was strolling through the inaugural Kansas Chocolate Festival, what he most noticed was the lines of customers at downtown businesses and pocket parks packed with families.

“It wasn’t about what the area looked like, it was about people from all walks of life enjoying themselves together,” he said.

Downtown’s story has evolved immensely since Gentry Oetting moved to Topeka in June 2004. When she went downtown after 5 p.m., she was shocked to find it deserted. Comparing it to downtown districts in Boulder and Denver, she wondered why it was so empty.

It prompted Gentry Oetting to join every volunteer opportunity, organization and committee dedicated to revitalization.

As CEO of Visit Topeka, Oetting is working on an operating plan for the downtown plaza with activities 300 days out of the year. The plan takes the city’s diversity into consideration, as well as various types of arts and culture.

There will be something for everyone, he said.

PowerPlayer

Name: Brett Oetting and Amber Gentry Oetting

Age: 36 and 37

Profession: CEO of Visit Topeka and executive director of Synovim

 

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