Software, marketing firm to expand downtown

October 16th, 2017

Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Fort Wayne City Council approved a tax abatement Oct. 10 for a software development and marketing firm that plans to expand in a new location downtown.

Aptera Inc. plans to move from its location at 201 W. Main St. to a building at 113 W. Berry St. that previously served as Allen County’s Courthouse Annex. The building has been vacant since August 2015. The firm plans to make interior and exterior updates before moving in.

The $2.6-million expansion and renovation will create an additional 20 jobs that will pay an average salary of $74,750.

“These are the kind of jobs we’re trying to attract to Fort Wayne,” Councilman John Crawford, R-at-large said in support.

In July, the council changed the city’s tax abatement policy to remove property tax abatements for businesses exporting less than 25 percent of their services outside of Allen County. The changes were aimed at attracting businesses from outside of the community, specifically high-paying “footloose” industries that could set up shop anywhere.

Founded in 2003, Aptera moved to its downtown headquarters in 2008. The company currently has 87 full-time employees with a payroll of $6.4 million. The firm’s president and CEO TK Herman said that downtown development has helped attract and retain talent.

“It’s been amazing to see the transformation over the last nine years. The things that are happening downtown are not only allowing us to attract but also retain people,” he said.

The tax abatement will result in a savings of $459,729 over the next 10 years. A vacant building credit will result in a one-time savings of $28,580.

The request was approved by a 6-2 vote with Councilmen Paul Ensley, R-1st, and Jason Arp, R-4th, voting no.

Citing a recent analysis that found that the city’s overall office vacancy rate has increased little despite a significant decline in vacancies downtown, Ensley questioned the need of economic development incentives for a downtown office expansion.

“There are other areas of town with far less vacancies than these places and yet we only seem to incentivize businesses that are going downtown at least as far as office buildings go,” he said.