Sweetwater plans ‘massive’ regional impact
By Dan McGowan | Inside INdiana Business
With Fort Wayne-based Sweetwater detailing its plans to create 1,000 jobs in the next three years, officials in the region are hailing the $76 million project as a win for northeast Indiana. "Our heart's desire would be to stay in Fort Wayne," said Chief Operating Officer John Hopkins, adding Sweetwater investigated the pluses and minuses of locations closer to a large segment of its customer base. Ultimately, Hopkins says Fort Wayne became the clear location to continue growth. "When we balanced it all out between what our desire was, what the economics said, what the offerings were from the state and local communities here, and what the offerings were from some of those other communities -- which were very strong financially -- we decided on the balance of it all that we wanted to continue to grow right here," Hopkins said.
Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Doden says other markets like the West Coast would've made sense for a company that supplies musicians and the entertainment industry, but the more than $76 million investment shows founder Chuck Surack's dedication to northeast Indiana. "We have a (total) payroll in Allen County of about $8.3 billion, so having an organization that has a $100-plus-million-dollar payroll impacts a lot of people," Doden said, "families that are able to pay for college or able to pay for their house, able to pay for vacations, and then also do business with people throughout the region. It's just a massive impact."
Hopkins and Doden both agree growth and quality-of-life improvements in Fort Wayne factored into the decision and play an important role in recruiting top talent. "People more and more are seeing Fort Wayne as an up-and-coming city," Hopkins said, adding the company has hired employees from almost every state and from other countries. "I think there's two strategies," Doden told Inside INdiana Business, "one is to continue having your educational system produce talent and then retain that talent, and then the second strategy is be a place that people from around the country will move. We're confident that that can happen."
Plans on the Sweetwater campus call for a new 350,000 square-foot warehousing facility and 35,000 square-feet added to the existing office facilities to serve as a conference center and continuing education space. You can connect to more about Sweetwater's growth plans by clicking here.