Tonight I attended the FlagShipKansas kickoff event. I went in with high hopes. I was excited about the changes that could potentially come to the tech community. I was excited to attend an event full of people equally as passionate as I am, talk about how to help the tech community, how to educate the next generation, and how to bring positive change to not only Wichita- but Kansas as well. To be a part of a group that knew the struggles that there were, and invite and talk about how we could overcome them together. What I attended instead was a bad car sales pitch that left me feeling like this group of people really did not care about us, the tech community. They cared about, surprise surprise, companies.
Maybe I have a jaded view point, and I can admit that. I mean, hearing a board of mostly middle age white men from rich, well off companies, telling me how their changes are going to make my life better has never gone wrong, right? That when serious questions about tech pay, education programs, and improving local legislation was swept under a generic, “We aren’t focusing on that because we need to get money and get tech companies to move here” was the only response and/or solution they could give. That they couldn’t even give a recognition that yes, these are issues, and we know they are important to you, and we promise to work on them. Nope, it was all just, we must get companies.
And let’s not talk about the statistics they gave. Yes, they sound amazing and awesome, when you don’t have the accompanying data to go with it. When you look that Kansas had the highest tech growth increase in the country. That sounds awesome, right?! But when we were already below average
The bottom line is that unless you can convince current companies to pay tech workers what they are worth, having more companies here isn’t going to change anything. If the average pay for a developer here is only $50,000, you aren’t going to convince a new company to move here to pay a worker $90,000. What’s going to happen, is they will move here, try to underpay us like everyone else, and we will just work remote jobs for companies
So my thoughts are this. While I really, really, REALLY hope this tech council does good and positive things come from it, my expectations are low. What was advertised as a kickoff event was just a sales pitch for money. How they handled questions tonight made it really feel like they aren’t willing to listen to the community that is already here. In truth, it felt like they made jabs at it, and didn’t even have their facts right about. (Yes, I did say I was jaded) And overall, the first impression they have made isn’t inspiring for the tech community at all. But hey, I guess we will have more tech companies here to complain there is no talent…willing to accept their low wages.