Survey says: 94% of business leaders believe Allen County is on the right track

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Business is good in Allen County, according to a recent survey of local business leaders. An overwhelming number of respondents to the Allen County Business Survey—91%—said they view the local business climate as “very positive” or “positive,” and 94% believe Allen County is on the right track. Nearly two-thirds indicated plans to grow their workforce, and more than half intend to increase wages and/or benefits.

“It’s encouraging to see the optimism in the business community—especially the plans to grow jobs and wages,” said John Urbahns, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. “We can’t become complacent, though. We know we’re competing against communities across the country for jobs and talent, so we must continue working to create the best conditions for businesses and the community to thrive.”

Indianapolis-based Loyalty Research Center designed and conducted the online survey on behalf of GFW Inc. More than 350 business leaders completed the poll, a statistically significant sample that gives the results a 95% confidence interval. The survey was open between Oct. 8 and Nov. 1.

Key findings include:

  • 91% of respondents have a very positive or positive outlook on the current business climate in Allen County.
  • 94% believe Allen County is on the right track.
  • 90% indicated that downtown Fort Wayne’s revitalization has a strong impact on talent attraction and retention. Other prominent factors in talent attraction/retention included public safety, quality pre-K-to-12 schools, trails, and the arts.
  • 92% agree that revitalization of Fort Wayne has a positive impact on surrounding communities.
  • 67% selected southeast Fort Wayne as the portion of Allen County most in need of additional private-sector investment.
  • 63% plan to grow their workforce in 2020. On average, those growing their workforce plan to add between 1-10 workers in 2020, mostly in entry- and mid-level positions.
  • 55% plan to increase wages and/or benefits in 2020.
  • Talent attraction and retention was listed as the top barrier to company growth, a sentiment found in many communities across the country.
  • When asked which new flight destinations from FWA would be most beneficial, top responses were Denver and the Washington, D.C. metro area.
  • 60% report their business has an internship program or plans to implement one.
  • 84% say their company has initiatives or policies supporting diversity and inclusion.
  • 68% state their company has initiatives or policies supporting hiring workers with disabilities.

“The climate in Allen County continues to be conducive to economic growth,” Allen County Commissioners Rich Beck, Therese Brown, and Nelson Peters said in a joint statement. “When the technological improvements meet the exceptional demand to build and expand in this community, great things happen. The permitting activity we have observed also points toward bigger and better things for Allen County in 2020.”

“Our community is fortunate to have a positive business climate and outstanding companies committed to making a meaningful difference,” Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said. “Ongoing collaboration, new economic development and job opportunities, and employment retention efforts have positioned us for current and future success. Public-private partnerships are working, and I’m looking forward to even more investments.”

There was also good news for Greater Fort Wayne Inc. as an organization: with 55% of respondents classified as strongly engaged in the chamber, Loyalty Research Center rated GFW Inc. at a “best-in-class” level, based on chamber of commerce industry benchmarks. When asked for three words to describe GFW Inc., the most common survey responses included “innovative,” “helpful,” and “community.”

“We take pride in bringing the business community together, but it’s also remarkable to see the public and private sectors so well aligned in Allen County,” said Beth Goldsmith, GFW Inc. board chair. “When everyone is pulling in the same direction, the entire community benefits.”

An executive summary of the survey results is available on the GFW Inc. website.

About Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. serves Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, as its 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.