Past And Present: Nonwhite Entrepreneurs

Oct 2, 2018

Oil businessman and Wichita Black Business Hall of Fame inductee Henry L. Wofford.
Credit courtesy photo

Wichita has a proud history of entrepreneurship. Companies founded here — such as Pizza Hut, Rent-A-Center, Beechcraft, Learjet, Cessna, and Koch Industries — have created thousands of jobs over the years. Yet, notwithstanding past accomplishments, analysts such as James Chung contend that contemporary business growth in Wichita is anemic.

In the midst of present-day soul searching regarding Wichita’s economic future, a collaborative study conducted by three Wichita State University professors — Sue Abdinnour of the Business School, Jay Price of the History Department, and myself — is gathering information about the activities of local nonwhite entrepreneurs.

African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American entrepreneurs have long played a role in Wichita’s economy. They have, among other things, represented one of the cornerstones of their respective communities. Moreover, history suggests that, as the number of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans in Wichita increases, there will be a corresponding increase in the number of businesses owned and operated by members of these ethnic groups.

Using a survey instrument for our study, we are collecting data related to such phenomena as what motivates nonwhite individuals to become entrepreneurs and what type of support and resources are available to them. The results of this study will be shared with such pertinent business organizations as the Wichita Metro and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, along with the Wichita chapter of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce.