Greater Fort Wayne Inc., serves the business community, and the broader community in Fort Wayne and Allen County. We work to grow jobs, wages and the economy by recruiting new businesses to the area and supporting existing businesses. Here are our 2016 highlights.
At our Annual Meeting last May, we unveiled Opportunity on the Edge of Greatness, a 10-year vision. We believe these five key projects will transform Fort Wayne and Allen County and help our community attract and retain businesses and talent from across the country. The presentation has been shared with more than 2,500 individuals, and more than 2,000 have signed in support of the plan. In late October, we launched our vision video, which garnered more than 8,000 hits in the first week live. The video has been viewed by users in the US, Canada, the UK, and 22 other countries around the world.
Our economic development team works to attract and retain businesses in Fort Wayne and Allen County, and brought $429 million in investment and $38.9 million in new payroll commitments to the community this year. Walmart is locating its first milk processing plant in our community, investing $181 million and 277 new job commitments. DANA Corp is beginning a $90 million expansion, which could bring up to 165 new jobs to Fort Wayne. Michelin is locating a new plant here, which is a $115 million investment.
Investor Services serves and supports existing businesses in the community, including networking groups and events, ribbon cuttings and ground breakings, and business education events. In addition, our investors are promoted on our website through their investor profile page, job openings and the community calendar. Combined, these tools resulted in more than 222,120 hits for our investors.
GFW Inc., is at the Statehouse each session advocating for our investors and working closely with the Northeast Indiana legislative delegation on issues impacting the business community. In 2016, we successfully advocated for an additional $42 million for the Regional Cities Initiative to fund a third community, ensuring that Northeast Indiana would receive a full $42 million for quality of place investment.
Locally, we meet with city and county elected officials and government staff to educate them on issues affecting the business community and providing the best environment to attract and retain talent and business.
To connect businesses directly with elected officials and share our legislative priorities, we host three annual legislative events. The Legislative Preview, Third House Forum, and the Legislative Wrap-Up allow investors to ask questions, voice their concerns, and receive updates directly from lawmakers. We send our legislative e-newsletter, GovConnect, every Friday to more than 3,000 individuals, keeping them up-to-date on business and government news.
This year, Leadership Fort Wayne’s 2016 class graduated at our Annual Meeting in May, and welcomed the largest incoming class in the history of the eight-month leadership development course for 2017.
The GFW Fellows program welcomed its second class of Fellows, including 19 students from 10 universities across the state. Students spent the summer interning with organizations like BKD, Franklin Electric and MedPro Group, attended monthly personal development workshops, and experienced Fort Wayne’s quality of life.
GFW Inc., hosts four signature events each year. The 11th Annual ATHENA Awards recognized individuals and organizations who have served the community in a meaningful way and have assisted women in their attainment of professional goals and leadership skills. The awards luncheon was held at the Parkview Mirro Center in March, and honored 12 young professional award nominees, 14 leadership award nominees and 15 organizational award nominees. We hosted our 2016 Annual Meeting in May, welcoming more than 400 attendees for networking, and an update and celebration of the previous year’s activities. Leadership Fort Wayne graduates received their certificates and became alumni. Board members were honored for their service, and we recognized the 2016 Small Business of the Year. The Greater Golf Open, held in July, provided an afternoon of networking and recreation for 36 teams at Orchard Ridge Country Club.
GFW Inc., Holiday Night, our last signature event of the year, will be held Thursday, December 15, at the Embassy Theatre. Come see the historic Embassy renovation and celebrate the hard work of our business community during the past year. For more information or to register, visit www.gfwinc.com.