With its wealth of economic assets and increasingly positive economic trends, Fort Wayne-Allen County is poised to solidify its position as one of the Midwest’s premier growth centers. However, certain obstacles stand in the way of achieving this goal including a shortage of developable and re-developable sites, talent shortages, and growing concerns about housing affordability. Without a more effective and collaborative approach—one that aligns public and private sector leadership—these challenges threaten the region’s future success.
In February 2020, on the verge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., selected TIP Strategies to craft an economic development action plan for Fort Wayne and Allen County. After being put on pause for most of 2020, the planning process was reactivated in November. Following a comprehensive economic assessment and an extensive engagement process that solicited input from more than 200 stakeholders, the framework for Allen County Together (ACT) emerged. The ACT plan represents a collaborative effort to increase business growth, job creation, entrepreneurship, capital investment, and real estate development through 2031. It is built around three cross-cutting principles that will define the area’s economic success: high growth (accelerating the development of quality spaces to attract new jobs, investment, and talent from outside Indiana), innovative (fueling growth in technology-driven companies in emerging and legacy industries), and inclusive (ensuring equitable access to opportunities for all people and communities in Allen County). Within these areas, the plan calls out bold projects designed to build on regional momentum. Areas of emphasis include positioning Fort Wayne as a college town; supporting collaborative approaches to Industry 4.0 innovations; and committing to sustainable, long-term investments in housing, job creation, infrastructure, public transportation, and quality of place amenities in Southeast Fort Wayne.