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Wichita's Economy Lagging Behind Its Competitors

Abigail Wilson

The Century II Conference Hall hosted an economic outlook on Wednesday morning. Experts say Wichita’s economy is growing, but not as fast as it should.

For decades aviation was the main economic driver for Wichita.

“If there was some hope that aviation was going to accelerate again at some point, I think we should shred that hope,” says Jeremy Hill, director of Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

Hill has put together an economic forecast for 2015. He says Wichita must diversify its economy if it wants to compete with other cities, which it's not doing as of right now.

Sectors he sees continuing to expand are professional services, things like attorneys, engineers and management positions—as well as technology, healthcare and construction.

“Construction has improved significantly, it used to be the second highest group receiving unemployment benefits as a concentration,” Hill says. “We’re forecasting it to grow 560 jobs in 2015.”

Hill noted that oil production is increasing at a rate of five percent in Kansas and expects that to continue.

Overall, he sees employment growing by 1.5 percent next year, but says that figure is well below Wichita’s potential.