FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- Local and state leaders gathered Wednesday at Parkview Mirro Research & Innovation Center for GFW Inc.’s annual Economic Development Summit. The summit focuses on the Allen County Together Plan (ACT) and its 3 pillars: innovation, inclusivity and high growth.

Overall, speakers at the summit stressed the importance of new housing downtown. According to Community Development Director of GFW Inc. Nancy Townsend, the more roofs there are downtown, the more entertainment spaces, trails and shopping there will be.

“The thing that’s been most important to where we’ve come is rooftops,” Townsend said. “We have to have people 18-24 hours in a space. That’s what’s going to bring restaurants. That’s what’s going to bring ultimately, one day, a grocery.”

In addition to more residential housing, there is great interest in adding more walking trails and active indoor and outdoor spaces to connect all of these areas, Townsend said.

Many of the plans unveiled at the summit are part of Phase 2 of the riverfront development project. According to Ellen Cutter, Chief Economic Development Officer of GFW Inc., Phase 2 does not only focus on economic development, but also quality of life.

“We want to see developments that add to the vibrancy of the community and our overall economy,” Cutter said. “We’ve definitely heard loud and clear there are opportunities for tourism and entertainment.”

Both Cutter and Townsend added they have looked toward other cities with successful riverfront developments such as Nashville, Indianapolis and Greenville, South Carolina, and have learned from them.

Cutter stressed that these new developments would not be possible without private investment.

“We can’t do anything alone,” Cutter said. “To achieve great things we have to have partnerships. That’s what has made our community successful.”

According to Townsend, Fort Wayne expects to reach $1 billion in private investment during the next 5-10 years. Private investment provides jobs and keeps taxes in the city low, Townsend said.

Looking beyond Phase 2, the next phase will come. It will just take a few years, Townsend said.