On-site visits provide businesses an opportunity to make connections and leverage resources in order to achieve their goals. During an on-site visit, a GFW Inc., team member spends 30 minutes to an hour getting to know the business owner or executives. They discuss their successes, their challenges, and what they need in order to grow, expand or continue their trajectory of success in Fort Wayne.
“First and foremost, we are there to hear what challenges the business is facing,” Adam Welch, director of business development, says. “We talk about a wide range of things—how business is, their customers and suppliers, financing and incentive opportunities, growth plans, and the suitability of their current facility. We also discuss available technical assistance, workforce, on-the-job training, the business climate, and legislative and local government concerns.”
These visits provide a one-stop-shop for anything related to the business. If they want to grow with personal or real property, GFW Inc. works with its partners at the city and county to determine availability of tax phase-ins or low interest loans. If it is a project that may be competitive with other states, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is contacted to see what resources are available at the state level. If there are workforce concerns or job hiring plans, GFW Inc. partners with Northeast Indiana Works. If the business needs more space, resources and assistance are provided to find available properties.
The on-site visits provide an opportunity for eligible businesses to connect with the City of Fort Wayne’s Commercial Façade Program and Downtown Revitalization Grant. Businesses facing challenges legislatively at the local, state, or sometimes federal level, are connected to GFW Inc.’s advocacy services.
“Once a business has laid out its concerns, plans, and outlook, I will pull in all of the necessary parties, and set up a follow-up meeting or make a simple connection,” Welch says. “The game plan is up to the business, as some prefer to do things incrementally, while others want to knock out three items with one stone.”
Small- and medium-sized businesses create 70 percent of the jobs in the US, and make up 98 percent of all business. So, when these businesses thrive, communities thrive. GFW Inc. will use all tools available to help a business increase production and improve its bottom line. GFW Inc. serves as a connector in the business community.
During an on-site visit last September, Hightech Signs learned a few months before its investment that its would be eligible for a tax phase-in, which it received in January. With their incentive and investment, Hightech Signs will be creating 11 new jobs to add to its current workforce of 18.
When businesses have new jobs to fill, GFW Inc. works closely with Northeast Indiana Works for workforce assistance. This often means connecting businesses with individuals who are unemployed or with other resources which will add more skills to a business’s current workforce. This benefits the business, the current employees, and the unemployed or underemployed.
“I tell each business that no issue is ever too small or too big,” Welch says. “Often times, business leaders are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. We help them so they can do what matters most to them—run their business.”