Recently City Council voted to create an “economic development area” (EDA) in the Waynedale area. This designation includes much of Bluffton Road north of Lower Huntington Road as well as other areas including the old Maloley’s property at the intersection of Lower Huntington Road and Old Trail. This step should be an additional boost for current and future businesses in the EDA and opens the door for tax abatements and other benefits for current businesses interested in expanding as well as for new businesses. Anyone interested should contact the staff of Fort Wayne’s Economic Development Division at 427-1140.

Job creation continues to be the major focus of local and state government, especially considering our ongoing national recession and its local effects. The Economic Development Alliance (coordinating City and County and Chamber of Commerce economic development efforts) recently announced that the European firm Vita Nonwovens will soon open a new manufacturing operation near Airport Expressway. The company will employ about 30 employees initially and that number is projected to likely go to 100 or more during the next 2 or 3 years. 30 jobs may not sound like many but the majority of jobs—whether in the manufacturing or service sector—are created by smaller firms rather than by huge operations such as our local GM plant. Another GM would be great news but until that happens new jobs in smaller firms will be a positive step forward.

There’s other news in the area of economic development. The Corporate Council—made up of executives of 32 large employers and government officials—kicked off a $20 million public-private fund to provide additional support for new or expanding businesses. The mayor has earmarked $1 million of city funds and efforts are being made to raise additional dollars to support the Corporate Council’s efforts. Considering the national economic situation I’m inclined to work with fellow council members to add some District CEDIT dollars to this fund as long as I’m convinced that the Corporate Council’s efforts are going to be well coordinated with those of the Economic Development Alliance. This might result in fewer rather than more dollars being available for neighborhood sidewalk/street projects—perhaps for a year or two. I’m eager to have a public dialogue regarding the use of CEDIT funds—should we spend more for “pure” economic development even if that means spending less on streets for a couple of years?? Let me know what you think!

Recently I’ve seen more and more yellow ribbons tied around trees and lampposts in Fort Wayne honoring our troops overseas. I’ve helped tie a few myself. Thanks to all of our servicemen and servicewomen for their dedicated work in the military. I realize full well that all of those individuals are volunteers—they weren’t drafted—and they are in Iraq or elsewhere around the world because they chose to serve their country—not because they were required to. These are difficult times from the economic and military viewpoint but I’m confident that we’ll see better times in the future.

Let me know what you think about the above matters or anything else of importance to Fort Wayne’s citizens!


Tom Hayhurst
4th District