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$200,000 Greater Fort Wayne campaign to promote Electric Works

April 23rd, 2018

By Kevin Leininger | News-Sentinel

With local officials debating whether to provide $65 million in requested local funding for the Electric Works, Fort Wayne’s leading economic development agency has decided to throw its weight behind the massive project.

The board of directors of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. this week unanimously endorsed a campaign that will seek to “inform, convene and engage the community about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” according to a statement to The News-Sentinel from board Chairman Andrew Thomas.

“Greater Fort Wayne Inc. was formed with the purpose of growing jobs, growing wages and growing the economy. With 1,500-plus permanent high-wage jobs and $387 million in annual economic impact, Electric Works is a game changer that perfectly fits within our mission. It will take a community to make this project happen, so we want the community to fully understand it,” he added.

John Crawford, a City Councilman, GFW Board member and outspoken Electric Works advocate, said the campaign will cost about $200,000 and is designed to “educate, activate and as a call to action.” The money will pay for a variety of forms of marketing, he said, including social media.

The first phase of the project to redevelop the former General Electric campus is expected to cost about $220 million, but just $3 million in local public funds have been pledged to date. Mayor Tom Henry has suggested capping the contribution from the city and Capital Improvement Board at $50 million, leaving a $12 million gap developers say must be closed if the project is to proceed.

Crawford said the campaign, which will begin soon, will ask the public to contact elected officials on behalf of the project.

Ambassador Enterprises of Fort Wayne, an investor in the Electric Works project, is owned by Daryle Doden, father of GFW President Eric Doden. Eric Doden is no longer involved with Ambassador.