I am a Kansan, born and raised. I grew up in Augusta, a community of 9,000 located about 25 minutes east of Wichita. I proudly attended the University of Kansas – Go Jayhawks! – and came home each summer while I interned at Bombardier Learjet. I loved coming home during breaks, but I was dead-set against moving back to Wichita after graduation.

So I moved to Dallas. I went to work for Bombardier Flexjet where I had an amazing experience as a marketing coordinator, planning unique events for high-networth individuals. I loved living in the big city with food, shopping and all the entertainment one could ask for. But it also took me 30 minutes to drive about 8 miles, my husband and I couldn’t come close to affording a house and it certainly wasn’t as friendly as I was accustomed to – it was a crapshoot whether or not people would even respond when you said, “hello!”

When my husband received a job offer that would move us back to Wichita, I honestly thought he was crazy. We were living an urban lifestyle. I had a great job. And it definitely felt much cooler saying we lived in Dallas rather than Wichita.

I was wrong. Moving back to Wichita is the best step we could have made both professionally and personally. We’ve each had tremendous career opportunities, established community connections and fostered some incredible friendships. It may not be the “big” city, but Wichita offers us the kind of life we could never have had living in Dallas.

I found out this morning that I was selected as a Wichita Business Journal 2008 40 Under 40 honoree. Recognition such as this provides encouragement and added motivation to get involved. To make a difference. To stay in Wichita.

We all know that workforce development and retention of talent are key issues facing our community. I wouldn’t trade my experiences in Dallas, but I know what that starry-eyed 22-year-old had yet to learn. There’s no place like home.