As part of the Regional Cities Initiative’s plan to grow the region’s population to one million over the next ten years, the organization’s economic development initiatives are dedicated to selling businesses on Fort Wayne, said Scott Naltner, director of business development at GFW Inc.
Naltner and his team partner with organizations like the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the Community Research Institute, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and Northeast Indiana Works to do this, spearheading attraction efforts that include visiting 500 businesses outside of the region.
“It’s sales,” Naltner said. “We want to meet with those companies, along with our partners, to show what’s going on…to see the momentum of what’s going on in the community. Because it’s incredible.”
“One of the things that really helps in economic development is being prepared,” he added. “Having sites ready. So we’ve developed some industrial parks and we’re working on some other ones.”
This is done in order to make the transition as smooth as possible for relocating businesses. GFW Inc. also serves as a ‘point person’ for companies throughout their transition.
“To have that single point of contact to get through this is significant.”
The task force is also working on the local side with business retention, completing 300 visits to companies already within GFW Inc.’s area “to see if they have expansion or relocation plans and be able to work with them.”
These ‘incentive packages’ include things like tax abatements and labor force development, and can go a long way toward business attraction and retention. Ultimately, Naltner says his job is about sharing the great things Fort Wayne has to offer.
“What I want to show those businesses is what a great place to do business this is,” Naltner said. “If they want to make money, this is the place to do it.”