Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc.’s 10-year vision presents five key quality of place projects to be completed for Fort Wayne and Allen County.
The plan capitalizes on 10 years of strong momentum catalyzed by Parkview Field, which opened in 2009. By 2015, this $54 million project resulted in more than $250 million in private investment around it. Seeing this in just six years shows the project’s tremendous success (considering the typical 10-year timeframe for private investment to reach five times the initial public investment).
The five key projects identified in the Opportunity on the Edge of Greatness vision include ideas that have been circulating in the community for years and aligns them, adding an estimated price tag and timeline to each. The goals of this effort are to increase the average wage, increase population growth to 2.1 percent and increase GDP from $30 billion to $60 billion over the next 15 years. Overall, this plan is expected to generate $3.5 billion to $4 billion in private investment over the next 15 to 20 years.
So, how will these projects generate new high-paying jobs? In order to attract and retain talent for our workforce, Fort Wayne must be a community where people want to live, work and play. Without the ability to attract people to our community, we are less likely to attract businesses and the high-paying jobs that come with them. In addition, businesses invest in communities that are investing in themselves.
While our population is technically growing due to birthrate over death rate, over the past five years 2,572 more people moved out of Fort Wayne and Allen County than moved in. With this many individuals moving out plus the current unemployment rate of 4.5 percent (which is considered full employment), it’s easy to see how companies coming in may not be confident that our current workforce will be able to fill all of these new jobs. It is estimated that for every 1,000 new jobs, 750 will have to be filled by people who have never lived in Fort Wayne.
By investing in our community to make Fort Wayne a top metro center in the U.S., we are helping businesses mitigate that risk because they can see that recruiting new employees to the area will be easy. The projects laid out in the 10-year vision represent major quality of place improvements that will encourage young professionals and businesses to relocate here, while also encouraging those already here to stay.
In addition, new wages come into the community as these projects are completed. On average, half the cost for large-scale development projects is labor. So, with $645 million worth of projects over the next 10 years, we can expect to see $322.5 million in wages alone, paid to those involved in building and managing the project. Calculating for the average effective tax rate (15 percent) and the average savings rate (5 percent), 80 percent of that $322.5 million dollars represents income that will often be spent right here in our community as those workers pay living expenses, shop for their families, buy groceries, participate in entertainment, etc.
Energy is a critical factor in a community where a business is looking to invest. More than where the community’s been, they want to see where it’s going, and what the plan is moving forward to continue growth and momentum. If a business is going to invest here by bringing new jobs, Fort Wayne and Allen County has to be investing in itself so that there is a story to tell about the future of this community.
The realization of this vision will create opportunities for our community beyond just what we can do with the physical assets. These are quality of place drivers, which drives job, wage and economic growth. And ultimately, these projects are all about inspiring the people who live, work and play in Fort Wayne and Allen County. We want to inspire our community to be bolder, to better itself and to be a nationally-recognized economy fueled by 21st century jobs.