FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) —Hundreds gathered in downtown to find out about the future of economic development in the city.

The 2022 Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Annual Meeting was held Thursday night at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center.

Officials say the city of Fort Wayne is very appealing for development and many are migrating to Fort Wayne because it’s a mid-sized city.

President and CEO of Great Fort Wayne Inc. John Urbahns says they completed 27 economic development projects last year alone.

“There’s a lot of great activity going on on the riverfront. With the city now acquiring the Pepsi property, there’s a lot of opportunity for investment in that area. I think the other thing we’ve seen is a lot more focus on research and development and higher tech jobs coming to the community,” Urbahns said.

Urbahns says they have already completed 11 projects so far this year.

Greater Fort Wayne also presented five awards to those making an impact across Allen County. The awards, distributed each year as part of GFW Inc.’s Annual Meeting event, honored an up-and-coming small business, an area nonprofit, and three local leaders.

This year’s award winners are:

  • Small Business of the Year Award – The Hoppy Gnome: This award celebrates the success of small businesses and honors their contributions to Allen County’s economic growth. To be eligible, each nominee must be a Greater Fort Wayne Inc. investor in good standing, located in Allen County, have been in business for more than five years, have 50 or fewer full-time employees, have revenue of less than $5 million in 2021, and be an independently owned and operated, for-profit entity.
  • Nonprofit Organization of the Year Award – Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne: Given for the first time in 2022, this award celebrates the local nonprofit organizations that strengthen our community and improve the quality of life for Allen County residents. Eligibility criteria are identical to those for the Small Business of the Year Award, except nominees must be IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations.
  • Barb Smith GFW Inc. Service Award – Beth Goldsmith: This award honors exemplary service to GFW Inc. and dedication to Allen County’s economic growth.
  • Maclyn Parker Swagger Award for Community Vision and Leadership – Jim Marcuccilli: This award is given to an individual who exemplifies the persistence and will to make Fort Wayne-Allen County a thriving community by being a strong advocate for economic development.
  • Elected Official of the Year Award – Indiana Sen. Dennis Kruse: This award honors exceptional efforts by elected officials to build a stronger community—and grow jobs and wages—by creating the best environment to attract and retain talent and business.