President / CEO
John Urbahns joined GFW Inc. in 2014. Prior to his appointment as CEO in 2019, he served as executive VP of economic development. In that role, he led an economic development team that assisted with 132 business expansions and relocations in Allen County, resulting in more than 7,800 new jobs and $335 million in new annual payroll.
John has managed and negotiated aspects of transformational downtown investments including The Landing, Electric Works, and Provenance Hotels’ boutique hotel (breaking ground in 2019). He co-led the Road to One Million (regional cities initiative) plan which resulted in a $42-million award from the State of Indiana for quality-of-place improvement projects throughout the region. Under his leadership, the GFW Inc. team has provided counsel to community leaders throughout northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, coaching them on setting a community vision, historic preservation, real-estate finance, and private-sector investment strategies.
Prior to joining GFW Inc., John served as the director of community development for the City of Fort Wayne, where he managed the City’s strategic planning, land use, redevelopment, housing, economic development, and neighborhoods services operations and an 80+ member team dedicated to excellence in public service. He led and assisted with high-profile projects at the direction of the mayor including Harrison Square, the Legacy Fund, Ash Skyline Plaza, and others. John has facilitated comprehensive, downtown, and neighborhood planning processes. He has spent much of his career engaging with local residents, neighborhood groups, elected officials, and business leaders to cast a visionary future for Allen County’s communities.
Over the course of his career, John has served on numerous community boards. He was a founding board member of the Fort Wayne Downtown Development Trust, the Fort Wayne New Markets Revitalization Fund, and Fort4Fitness. John graduated from Ball State University with degrees in urban planning and environmental design and is an AICP-certified urban planner. He received an Outstanding Alumni award in 2020 from Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning.
He is a proud dad to three great kids and a lifelong Hoosier.