INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. on Friday won three statewide awards, including the 2018 Indiana Chamber of the Year Award. The state-level honors, given by the Indiana Chamber Executives Association (ICEA) comes on the heels of one of the best years in the organization’s history, in which Allen County added more than $81 million in new annual payroll, and GFW Inc.’s member recruiting and retention efforts surpassed goals.
In addition to the Chamber of the Year Award, GFW Inc. won a pair of statewide Communications Excellence Awards: one in the Website division, and one for Marketing Campaign for its “Opportunity on the Edge of Greatness” 10-year vision campaign. The three awards were each judged by panels of five judges from outside the state of Indiana.
“We exist to grow jobs, wages, and the economy, and we’re honored that people across the state are noticing our community’s successes,” said Eric Doden, CEO of GFW Inc. “I’m so proud of our team and our board. We can accomplish so much for our community when we all align around a common goal and dedicate ourselves to achieving results.”
The awards were presented as part of the ICEA’s Annual Conference in downtown Indianapolis. Fort Wayne previously won the Chamber of the Year award in 2003.
GFW Inc. had a highly successful 2017 in all facets of the organization. The Allen County economy made major strides, with new jobs and payroll entering the market as companies expanded and relocated to the area. In total, GFW Inc. assisted companies investing a total of $242 million in Allen County. Other commitments included:
- 28 business expansions and relocations.
- 1,838 new jobs.
- $81 million in new annual payroll.
As Allen County’s chamber of commerce, GFW Inc. counts more than 1,300 members (investors)—the vast majority being small businesses. The organization surpassed its goal of recruiting 100 new investors in 2017 while increasing its retention rate to 92 percent, better than the national average for chamber organizations.
GFW Inc. hosted 267 events in 2017, with attendance up 20 percent from the previous year and attendee satisfaction exceeding goals. Leads groups, where professionals network and help grow business for one another, saw participants connect colleagues with more than 400 business leads.
In its 35th year, Leadership Fort Wayne (LFW) produced a graduating class of 63 individuals, its largest on record. LFW helps bolster the community’s talent pipeline by providing individuals with leadership training and education. The GFW Fellows program continues to attract and retain top talent from universities near and far. Last year, 10 Fellows worked project-based internships at nine local companies, getting hands-on experience with core business functions. Many of these internships lead to full-time employment, as about 50 percent of GFW Fellows alumni report that they currently live and work in Allen County.
“The Greater Fort Wayne Inc. team presented a very solid nomination for this award and excelled in all areas reviewed,” said Shelli Williams, president of the ICEA. “This organization continues to be a leading catalyst for professional innovation in Indiana.”
GFW Inc.’s redesigned website launched in August 2017. Xymmetrix, now part of Ferguson Advertising, handled the redesign, incorporating high-quality video and photo elements along with revamped text, showcasing the best of Allen County. In the first five months of 2018, the new site saw year-over-year increases in sessions and pageviews compared to the same period of 2017.
Launched in 2016, the “Opportunity on the Edge of Greatness” campaign cast a bold 10-year vision for Allen County and vaulted Greater Fort Wayne Inc. into a more prominent community leadership role. By completing five transformational projects, the campaign aims to increase the average wage, accelerate population growth, and double the GDP in a 15-20-year period.
In 2017, GFW Inc. gained grassroots support by presenting the “Opportunity on the Edge of Greatness” plan to 150 national prospects and more than 10,000 community members, with audiences as small as a single person and as large as thousands.
Thanks in large part to this campaign, GFW Inc.’s social media following grew by 25 percent in 2017, and Allen County’s economic progress was featured in national media outlets including Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and HuffPost.
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.