PopulationMetro: 645,628
Long an entrepreneurial hotbed of plentiful and innovative industries, the largest city in Kansas is finally being discovered by talent looking for a hometown and national media alike.

There’s something happening in south-central Kansas—a current that’s amplified by a newfound appreciation of American manufacturing legacy and Millennial talent’s search for smaller cities where corporate headquarters pay well and give back to the community.

Kansans know how to make a statement. Example: the Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot tall steel statue of a Native American (lit by a bonfire at night) at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers in the heart of downtown Wichita. It stands as a symbol of a city that respects the past and looks to the future—and that’s gaining a new, national reputation as business hub with a growing cultural footprint.

Wichita earns a ranking of #18 for Prosperity, thanks to companies like Cessna Aircraft Co., Coleman (which probably made your flashlight, cooler and raincoat) and Koch Industries, which—whether or not you agree with its owners controversial politics—is an economic powerhouse with $100 billion in annual revenues, making it the largest private company in America.

CITY PERFORMANCE
Place
Place 36
Product
Product 47
Programming
Programming 40
People
People 45
Prosperity
Prosperity 50
Promotion
Promotion 41

Wichita’s sophisticated cultural landscape benefits from hometown corporate titans philanthropic largesse. From imaginative greenery at the Wichita Gardens to the Old Cowtown Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House to the Great Plains Transportation Museum, there’s something for everyone in this city that earns a #13 ranking for Attractions. And after taking in an exhibition, visitors will want to check out the emerging restaurant scene, which nets a superb #9 ranking for Restaurants.

Locals love Wichita’s big skies and wide open spaces. Homes are affordable, and in a state that’s nearly 90% white, Wichita adds a little diversity, including a large Vietnamese community. Wichita also honors its Native American roots with the Mid-American All Indian Center—the only such museum in Kansas—and the annual American Indian Festival.