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Companies with GFW report new high marks

January 3, 2019

The number of new jobs and amount of new annual payroll announced last year by employers working with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. set records, the local economic development organization announced Wednesday.

Keep in mind that Greater Fort Wayne has existed only five years. And the promised positions might appear in future years : or not at all, if economic conditions change.

Even so, some of the investments are eye-popping, especially Sweetwater Sound’s plans for a $76.4 million expansion that will add 385,000 square feet on the U.S. 30 campus.

Sweetwater officials said the project, which includes new warehouse and conference areas, will be operational by the summer of 2022. They estimated 1,009 new jobs will be created in the same time frame.

The jobs will pay $54,000 a year on average and include positions in distribution, logistics, sales, marketing, merchandising and information technology.

Companies unveiled plans to invest almost $337 million total within Allen County. The projects include:

• 33 business expansions and relocations

• 2,445 new jobs

• $115 million in new annual payroll

The data were included in a year-end report by Great Fort Wayne officials. John Urbahns, the nonprofit’s newly appointed CEO, said his staff is proud to play its part in the investments.

“This organization is here to grow jobs, grow wages and grow the economy,” he said in a statement. “The numbers show 2018 was the best year we’ve ever had : even better than 2017.”

The organization was created in 2014 with the merger of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance and is the area’s sole point of contact for economic development projects.

The predecessor organizations kept records of employers’ job creation plans, beginning in 2001. Last year’s announcements set a record. New annual payroll has been tracked only since 2012.

Data released by other sources confirm that last year saw solid economic growth. Allen County officials announced last month that they’d issued more than $1 billion in building permits for only the second time. That threshold was first passed in 2017.

Also, Indiana officials last month announced a record-breaking year for economic development, with 320 commitments from companies to create more than 31,000 jobs in the next few years.

Together, the businesses plan to invest more than $7.38 billion in Indiana operations and create up to 31,112 jobs.

sslater@jg.net

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