MAYOR TOM HENRYWe’ve still got a ways to go before we can say we’ve put the recession behind us, however, recently released jobs numbers paint a very promising pictures for our city and our region.

According to the April 2012 Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) information (not seasonally adjusted), the Fort Wayne area’s unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. This means our unemployment rate is better than Indiana’s 7.7 percent comparable rate, and our rate is also lower than the nation’s 8.7 percent rate, by nearly a point and a half. The data, from the State of Indiana Department of Workforce Development, demonstrates our area’s steady economic progress and improving employment picture.

The positive advancement is evidenced in the monthly totals, as follows: January, 9 percent; February, 8.4 percent; March, 8.2 percent; and April, 7.3 percent. For Fort Wayne alone, the April rate is the lowest since the end of 2008. Over the same period, the number of unemployed workers fell from 18,911 individuals in January to 15,798 in April.

While the progress is slower than you or I would like, these numbers are very encouraging. A Fort Wayne built for success is built one job at a time, and every job we secure is a victory. With our unemployment rate steadily falling and real gains recorded on the employment front, we are proving again and again why Fort Wayne is a great place to start and grow a business.

This latest employment report enhances the list of encouraging economic activity for the community and the state, including:

·Groundbreaking for Franklin Electric Company, Inc.’s new corporate headquarters;

·Construction of the new General Mills distribution center on Bluffton Road in Waynedale, which is scheduled to be completed this summer-creating 60 new jobs;

·Rapid construction of new downtown Fort Wayne housing with action on The Harrison and the AWB Building, along with high interest in both residential options;

·Indiana Tech’s groundbreaking for Fort Wayne’s first law school;

·Grand opening of Parkview Regional Medical Center’s new campus and the addition of a fifth floor to Lutheran Hospital;

·University of Saint Francis’s investment in downtown with the purchase of the Scottish Rite Center, renaming it the USF Performing Arts Center;

·Dedicated implementation of the initiative to streamline development permitting, ensuring Fort Wayne and Allen County are more welcoming to business;

·A Bloomberg article, “Payrolls Increase in 32 States, Led by Indiana and Texas,” showing Indiana leading the country in job creation in April with an employment gain of 17,100;

·The Fiscal Times designation of Fort Wayne, at the close of 2011, as the city with the highest job growth rate in the United States.

As I said this news is exciting and energizing, but there is still much work to be done. Together with our economic development partners at The Alliance and Allen County we continue to do everything in our power to make our community the most attractive and competitive destination for good jobs, talented workers and business investment. Growing our economy remains our top priority.