Attracting jobs, becoming ‘Music City’ part of Allen County economic development plan

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — This week, data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed Fort Wayne was the fastest-growing metro area in the Great Lakes region.

Now, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and other community leaders have a plan to continue that growth.

Greater Fort Wayne on Thursday presented the new “Allen County Together” economic development action plan. The tri-pronged plan aims to strengthen Allen County’s economy over the next 10 years through growth, innovation and inclusion.

“The progress we’ve seen across Allen County over the past 10-12 years has been remarkable. There’s no question we’ve become one of the top communities in the Great Lakes region—but we can’t get complacent,” said John Urbahns, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. “The ACT plan challenges us to reach our full potential as a community, and lays out the next steps to get us there.”

Here’s the plan:

High-Growth

  • Attract $1 billion in private investment to the riverfront in downtown Fort Wayne by the end of 2031.
  • Attract and grow 2,500 net new high-wage jobs by the end of 2031 in R&D, engineering, IT, regional headquarters, and tech-driven growth industries.
  • Build 2,500 on- and off-campus student housing units—and other amenities associated with local higher-education institutions—by the end of 2031 to help Fort Wayne become a widely recognized college town.

Innovative

  • Become recognized as a “Top-10 Music City” by the end of 2031 through expanded festivals, music venues, training and education, and music-industry innovation.
  • Become a premier “Industry 4.0” automotive tech community and add 2,500 net new jobs in the automotive tech sector by the end of 2031.
  • Enhance Allen County’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by launching a $10-million venture fund and accelerator by the end of 2026, housed at Electric Works. Grow the venture fund to $25 million by the end of 2031.

Inclusive

  • Close the disparity gap by providing financing to underserved individuals and small businesses via expanded local community development financial institution (CDFI) capacity. Deploy $10 million in CDFI funding by the end of 2026 and $25 million by the end of 2031.
  • Build catalytic development projects in southeast Fort Wayne that attract $100 million in capital investment by the end of 2026 and $250 million by the end of 2031.
  • Attract and grow 2,500 net new jobs in southeast Fort Wayne by the end of 2031.

ACT was created with funding support from the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County Commissioners, and Indiana Michigan Power. Austin, Tex.-based TIP Strategies assisted in crafting the strategy.

A consulting team conducted 20 roundtables and dozens of individual interviews to gather information and ideas from more than 200 local stakeholders. These included business leaders, elected officials, educational leaders, developers, investors, community activists and advocates, and other stakeholders in Fort Wayne and Allen County.

“The successes of Allen County have put our community in a position to be able to think long-term about economic development. The work we do now will determine how fast and how successfully we move our community forward together through and past the challenges of today.”

Allen County Commissioners Rich Beck, Therese Brown, and Nelson Peters

“I continue to be encouraged by the positive momentum and investments we’re experiencing in Fort Wayne and Allen County. I’m looking forward to additional projects and initiatives in our community as we come together to enhance an already award-winning city and county. It’s our time to make a lasting impact for individuals, families, and businesses.”

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry

“If we’re going to drive our community forward, we need to keep raising the bar—and that’s what ACT does. It challenges us to build a community with expanded, equitable opportunities for individuals and families to live their best lives here. Now we’ve got to do the work to make these projects a reality. We know it won’t always be easy, but if we work together, we can create a better future in Allen County.”

Ellen Cutter, GFW Inc. VP of economic development

For more information on the ACT plan, CLICK HERE.

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