Greater Fort Wayne Fellows program looks to retain bright, young talent

February 1st, 2017

By Justin Kenny | News-Sentinel

Fort Wayne has already made big investments into its downtown and is looking to continue to do so with numerous projects in the coming years.

But without bright, young professionals to fuel the local workforce and live in the community, no amount of downtown improvement will make the city a destination for companies.

The goal of attracting and retaining the next crop of astute young career seekers is the goal behind the Greater Fort Wayne Fellows program, which announced a dozen college students Tuesday who will be a part of the internship, now in its third year.

Partnering up with a local business, the interns - who all attend an Indiana collegiate institution and who come from as far away as California - will participate in a variety of development workshops and projects in addition to their internships with their parent company.

Each of the 12 Fellows went through a rigorous screening and interview process before being chosen.

The program runs through the summer.

"This is a program that needs to happen more and more around our country and our region," said Eric Doden, CEO of Greater Fort Wayne. "We have more and more businesses taking on talent and making sure they grow and improve."

As with any growing community, retention of the best and brightest minds is vitally important. Doden makes no secret that the goal of this program is to keep those minds in northeast Indiana. On Tuesday, Doden took the dozen Fellows through a detailed glance at the five primary projects that Greater Fort Wayne is working towards in the coming years - the downtown arena, STEAM park, the Landing, the GE campus and the riverfront promenade.

"We want to show them that we are a city that's moving forward, being aggressive about it and that this would be a great place to utilize their talents over the next 20 years or longer," Doden said. "It's really neat to see how all these things are working together. Businesses cannot grow if they don't have the workforce that stays here, grows here and calls this place home."

Huntington University student Itzel Barron Valdez moved to Fort Wayne with her family from Mexico when she was 5-years-old. She hopes that being a Fellow partnered with Lincoln Financial Group will pay off in a variety of ways as she nears graduation next year.

"The thing that drew me into it was not only Lincoln Financial being a host company, a place I wanted to get my foot in the door at, but also Greater Fort Wayne's focus on community service," Valdez said. "I just know that this gives me the opportunity to do that and give back to a city that I've called home for a really long time."

Greater Fort Wayne welcomed a dozen college students Tuesday into its Fellows program. These aspiring young professionals will partner up with a local business as part of their internship:

  • Itzel Barron Valdez, Huntington University, Lincoln Financial
  • Megan Boston, Trine University, Tuthill
  • Justin Davis, Saint Francis, Do It Best Corp
  • Marissa Deetz, Manchester University, BKD
  • Tanner Frye, Ball State, Lincoln Financial
  • Brandon Goepfrich, Trine University, Franklin Electric
  • Jungho Kim, IPFW, Franklin Electric
  • Logan Kroezen, Indiana Tech, Parkview Health
  • Joseph Parker Lampman, Ball State, PHP
  • Seth Lugibihl, Taylor, Ash Brokerage
  • Ryan Polito, Indiana State, MedPro