$81 Million in New Annual Payroll Was a Single-Year Record
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Allen County economy boomed in 2017, with a flurry of business expansions and relocations, jobs being added, and an infusion of new payroll entering the market. The county also ramped up its efforts in talent attraction and retention, making major strides on several quality-of-place projects. The wave of activity across the area is a sign of Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. fulfilling its mandate of building a nationally recognized economy in Allen County.
“This organization is about results. We’re here to grow jobs, grow wages, and grow the economy. When Allen County is successful, that means GFW Inc. is successful,” said Eric Doden, CEO of GFW Inc. “The results are clear: 2017 was our best year ever. Economic conditions can ebb and flow, but these are the results we expect as we strive to build a nationally recognized economy.”
Recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are encouraging—Allen County’s unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent in October, better than the statewide and national rates (3.4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively). Those numbers build on longer-term momentum; according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the county’s per-capita income rose by 2.4 percent from 2015 to 2016, outpacing the national growth rate of 1.6 percent.
In 2017, GFW Inc. assisted companies investing a total of $242 million in Allen County. Other commitments included:
|Statistic||Highest Single-Year Total Since|
|28 business expansions and relocations||2013|
|1,838 new jobs||2005|
|$81 million in new annual payroll||Highest on record (stat kept since 2012)|
Major expansion and relocation announcements included:
|Fort Wayne Metals||337||$51.1 million|
|Android Industries||313||$14.7 million|
|Buchanan Hauling||180||$3.2 million|
GFW Inc.’s economic development staff made 530 visits to Allen County businesses and 252 visits to businesses outside Allen County during the year. These on-site visits are designed to build relationships, help current Allen County businesses thrive and retain jobs, and attract businesses to locate in Allen County.
Staff members met with business leaders in the following markets in 2017:
- Ann Arbor/Detroit
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- Durham, N.C.
- Greenville, S.C.
- Austin, Texas
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
These out-of-market visits with business leaders, entrepreneurs, developers, and investors—many of them Indiana expats—helped spread the news about Allen County’s economic momentum, and generated leads for several potential relocations and expansions currently under consideration.
Quality of Place
GFW Inc. helped lead the charge on several major quality-of-place projects designed to help Allen County attract and retain jobs and talent, including:
- Riverfront Development – The $100 million Phase 1 is fully funded and construction has already begun. In December, a Minnesota-based private developer announced plans to build a $61 million mixed-use facility near the Riverfront with retail space, living space, and a parking garage.
- Sidewalk and Alley Repairs – Work began in 2017 on a total of six neighborhood sidewalk and alley projects, with a total of 35 projects planned for 2018. These projects were funded by a Local Income Tax adjustment passed in July by Fort Wayne City Council.
- Electric Works – RTM Ventures purchased the former General Electric campus in late September, paving the way for a $440 million revitalization. In December, Indiana Tech signed a letter of intent to become the first announced tenant. The project has already attracted national media attention from The Wall Street Journal and HuffPost.
- The Landing – The historic district of Columbia Street will be redeveloped by Model Group, a Cincinnati firm specializing in revitalizing urban neighborhoods.
GFW Inc. also ran an extensive grassroots outreach program to spread the word about the momentum in Allen County. Staff members presented the “Opportunity on the Edge of Greatness” pitch deck to 10,018 residents in 2017 as part of 107 meetings with neighborhood associations, high-school students, businesses, and other organizations.
Early indications are that 2018 will be another big year. In the Downtown Fort Wayne area alone, six projects are set for construction, representing a total investment of approximately $684 million. These projects include:
- Riverfront Development (Phase 1).
- Riverview Mixed-Use Development.
- Electric Works.
- The Landing.
- Boutique Hotel.
- Hampton Inn Hotel.
Additional potential downtown projects are in the pre-development phase.
The GFW Inc. Board of Directors will forge ahead under new leadership in 2018, as outgoing board chairman Ron Turpin passes the torch to Andrew Thomas. Turpin served as chairman since 2013 and helped guide the organization from its formation. He will continue serving on the board and, as immediate past chair, will remain as an officer.
Thomas, president at Ridge NAPA and owner of 816 Pint & Slice, previously served as vice chair of the GFW Inc. board. He was a founding board member of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana and is a past president of YLNI.
Thomas will be joined on the slate of officers by Beth Goldsmith (vice chair), John Burda (secretary), Allen Glassburn (treasurer), and Turpin.
“Ron Turpin leaves some big shoes to fill. He deserves thanks from our board and the community as a whole for the work he did as chairman of GFW Inc., and we’ll continue to lean on his leadership,” Thomas said. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead a very talented board of directors. We will do everything in our power to continue building a nationally recognized economy in Allen County.”
“Our staff, board, and investors worked incredibly hard to achieve great things in 2017—and we celebrate those achievements—but we can’t get complacent,” Doden said. “We will need bold leadership, energy, passion, and drive from across the community to continue our momentum into 2018. We will keep raising the bar and work harder than ever to make 2018 the best year Allen County has ever seen.”
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.