Plan Expected to Generate $3.5 Billion in Private Investment
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc., last night unveiled a 10-year vision for Fort Wayne and Allen County’s future, citing five major projects to be completed in that timeframe. The goal is to increase the middle wage income, attract and retain top talent and grow the economy. At the organization’s 2015 Annual Meeting held Thursday at the Grand Wayne Center downtown, CEO Eric Doden presented the vision to business leaders and GFW Inc., investors.
“We’ve identified five key projects that, over the next ten years, will help us increase the average wage, increase our population growth rate to 2.1 percent, and increase our GDP from $30 billion to $60 billion over the next 15 years,” Doden said.
More than 285 individuals committed to the plan last night by signing a pledge to support the community’s efforts to get the projects completed, and move Fort Wayne and Allen County forward to become a nationally-recognized economy.
The plan capitalizes on 10 years of strong momentum, catalyzed by Parkview Field, which opened in 2009. In just six years, this $54 million project resulted in more than $250 million in private investment around it, with projects like the Courtyard Marriott, the Harrison (mixed-use retail and living space), and the newly completed Ash Brokerage national headquarters.
“This growth is just the beginning of the momentum that will help us overcome a key issue facing our community today: wage decline,” Doden said. “Over the past few decades, we’ve seen a significant decline in our average wage. In 1990, it was 120 percent of the national average. Maintaining that trend, our current average wage would be $61,000 per year, but in reality, it’s $41,000—20 percent below the national average. That’s a 40-point decrease.”
The five key projects identified include ideas that have been circulating in the community for years, and aligns them, adding an estimated price tag and timeline to each.
First is an $85 million downtown arena, with a timeline of 2016 to 2018, followed by the $30 million redevelopment of The Landing on Columbia Street, also expected to begin this year and to be completed by 2018. The Riverfront Promenade, a $100 million project, is anticipated for 2017 to 2021. Redevelopment of the GE Campus, which was offered for sale by GE on Wednesday, is expected to occur from 2018 to 2020, and will be an approximately $250 million investment. STEAM Park, a new project idea publicly discussed yesterday, is an education and entertainment campus located on the river near downtown, which will inspire young people to 21st century jobs in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The space would include a freshwater and saltwater aquarium, an outdoor entertainment venue, an IMAX theater and residential space. This investment is estimated at $180 million and would be completed between 2021 to 2025.
This plan is expected to generate $3.5 billion in private investment over the next 15 to 20 years.
“Momentum is hard to gain, but is easy to lose,” board chairman Ron Turpin said. “What you have seen tonight is a vision that in many cases has been talked about for years. This vision is big, it is bold and it is not without risk, but we know that the price of doing nothing is to continue to have declining wages. What we all have to agree on is that we want to be big and be bold, and if we do, our community will continue to win.”
About Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. serves Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, as its metro chamber alliance and primary point of contact for economic growth. GFW Inc., focuses on prosperity and community vibrancy through economic development, advocacy, programs and resources that support business success, leadership development, graduate retention and community engagement. To learn more, visit www.greaterfortwayneinc.com.