Fort Wayne: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Health care, manufacturing, and insurance have traditionally been the primary industries in Fort Wayne. The city's hospitals form a regional medical center that serves the tri-state area. Demand for health care services has continued to increase alongside the area's population, particularly that of older citizens. The city's two health care networks—Parkview Health System and Lutheran Health Network—are among the city's five top employers.

Dozens of manufacturing companies in the Fort Wayne area employ 100 people or more. Notable among these is General Motors's Fort Wayne Assembly plant, which has approximately 3,000 employees and is one of the top employers in the city. The 2.5 million square-foot plant, which built its first pickup truck in 1986, produced 247,000 pickups in 2004 and is home of the world's first full-size hybrid pickup truck. The home offices of several insurance companies are located in Fort Wayne, including Lincoln Financial Group, which opened for business in 1905—in a small rented space above a telegraph office in Fort Wayne—as Lincoln National Life Insurance Company. The company grew to become one of the largest insurance companies in the country.

Leading-edge communication service will soon arrive in the Fort Wayne area by Verizon, another of the city's largest employers. In January 2005, the company announced plans for a $65-75 million fiber optic network throughout most of Fort Wayne and nearby New Haven. The network, which will serve approximately 65,000 homes and businesses, will be the first of its kind in the state. Nearly 900 new jobs—approximately 600 contract workers, 200 full-time Verizon jobs, and 80 temporary positions—are expected as a result of this project.

Tourism in Fort Wayne has grown in recent years, following the expansion or the building of new museums, hotels, festival parks, and meeting facilities. In 2003, 5.3 million visitors came to the city, spending $370 million.

Items and goods produced: electric motors and supplies, trucks, tires, clothing, public speaking systems, televisions and electronic equipment, radios, valves, radio parts, copper wire, diamond wire dies, tools, trailers, aluminum pistons, gasoline pumps, liquid metering equipment, tanks and compressors, automotive axles, plastics, boats, feed, beer, paint, cranes and dredges, paper boxes, precision gears and counters, mobile homes

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Alliance—founded by the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County, and the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce—supports business location, expansion, and retention in Allen County. The Alliance is a one-stop-shop for business development, serving as a coordinator of information and resources. It assists companies in many areas, including the development of long-term labor supply strategies, tax abatement on personal and real property, tax incremental financing, employee relocation assistance, site or building options and selection, and community participation.

State programs

The state of Indiana extends various grants and loans to local governments and companies. The state offers a variety of incentives to new and expanding businesses, such as tax credits for investment and training, and through its Community Assistance, Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Technology, Trade Show, and Training programs. The International Trade Division of the Indiana Department of Commerce encourages foreign investment locally.

Job training programs

The Indiana Department of Work-force Development offers an array of job training programs through its network of nearly 90 WorkOne centers, including one in Fort Wayne. Since 1997, nearly 58,000 workers have been trained through the Advance Indiana program. The Incumbent Worker Training Fund provides grants to employers seeking to improve the skill level of their employees. Career and technical education is also provided by local community and technical colleges.

Development Projects

Numerous major development projects are underway or recently completed in Fort Wayne. Among them is a plan, announced in January 2005, to create a fiber optic communications network—the only one of its kind in the Great Lakes region—that will bring leading edge communication service and nearly 900 new jobs to the Fort Wayne area. In 2001 county taxpayers approved bond financing of an $84 million library expansion project; a massive renovation of the main library is scheduled for completion in 2006. In January 2005 General Motors confirmed a plan to invest approximately $175 million to upgrade its Fort Wayne Assembly plant. A $42 million expansion of the Grand Wayne Convention Center is scheduled for completion in 2005. Area hospitals are also seeing major growth, with a $38 million expansion of Dupont Hospital, to be completed in 2007; a $25 million expansion of Lutheran Hospital, to be completed in 2006; and a $500 million, ten-year strategic plan to expand Parkview Hospital.

Economic Development Information: City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Economic Development/Redevelopment Commission, City-County Building, Fort Wayne, IN 46802; telephone (219)427-1127

Commercial Shipping

Fort Wayne International Airport is the national and international air transportation center for northeastern Indiana. CSX Railway and Norfolk Southern Railway connect the city with major markets throughout the United States; the carriers maintain local reciprocal switching agreements. An excellent highway system is used by nearly 40 common and contract motor carriers that maintain local terminals that provide overnight delivery to most of the Midwest, Mid-south, and Canada. Triple Crown Services Co., a door-to-door truckload carrier, is headquartered in Fort Wayne.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Service employment, which grew steadily in Fort Wayne during the early 2000s, is expected to continue its climb in upcoming years. Manufacturing, in contrast, has experienced some decline, but still remains an essential part of the Fort Wayne economy, comprising a large percentage of Fort Wayne employment—approximately twice that of the national average.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Fort Wayne metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 211,900

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 11,600

manufacturing: 36,200

trade, transportation and utilities: 45,700

information: 3,500

financial activities: 13,100

professional and business services: 19,700

educational and health services: 32,100

leisure and hospitality: 19,700

other services: 8,300

government: 22,000

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.79

Unemployment rate: 6.2% (February 2005)

Fort Wayne: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
Parkview Health System 3,648
Fort Wayne Community Schools 3,445
General Motors Truck and Bus Group 3,050
Lutheran Health Network 2,889
Verizon Communications 2,214
Lincoln Financial Group 2,108
City of Fort Wayne 1,671
Allen County Government 1,585

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Fort Wayne area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $220,384

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 89.4 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 3.4% of taxable income

State sales tax rate: 5.0% (food, prescription drugs, and items consumed or used in manufacturing are exempt)

Local income tax rate: 0.8% (county tax)

Local sales tax rate: 1.0% on food and beverages

Property tax rate: 0.8353 per $100 assessed valuation (2000)

Economic Information: City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Economic Development/Redevelopment Commission, City-County Building, Fort Wayne, IN 46802; telephone (219)427-1127