Derby, KS: A Top Spot for Military Families

Derby, Kan., attracts military families and supports McConnell Air Force Base.

Melanie Hill
On Friday, December 27, 2013 - 06:00

How does a small Wichita suburb get ranked among the country’s best towns for families? For the community of Derby, home to approximately 22,943 people and located about 12 miles outside of Wichita, the answer was simple: Invest in education and quality of life

“We’ve had a very conservative history of governance,” says Allison Moeding, economic development director for the city of Derby. “Both our school district and city council have been very cautious with incentives. They’ve tried to focus on those quality-of-life issues that are important to families – and that has put us in a position where we’ve been able to grow.”

Those quality-of-life investments in schools, dozens of parks, and miles of hiking and biking pathways – all things young families care about – have helped Derby become the first-choice suburb for thousands of McConnell Air Force Base families. 

But Derby doesn’t just take those airmen (and their tax dollars) in; locals also give back. From annual fundraising events like the National Barbecue Derby competition that benefits area servicemen and their families to the chamber of commerce's efforts to help families find military discounts with local businesses, no Wichita community does more to support McConnell and its people. 

With its relationship with McConnell as its foundation, Derby has also developed a growing retail and restaurant scene, serving both airmen, locals and shoppers from surrounding areas. The city's efforts to boost business, recreation and culture are paying off.

Derby was recently named Most Playful City USA community by KaBOOM! for the third consecutive year – just another accolade that is earning the city recognition on the national map.


Melanie Hill is an independent writer, editor and public relations specialist based out of Franklin, Tenn.