Poll Shows 'Unprecedented' Electric Works Support

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Greater Fort Wayne Inc. has released survey results that suggest a high level of support for the planned Electric Works redevelopment of the city's old General Electric campus. The economic development organization commissioned the survey, which includes results from 600 respondents who live in the city or Allen County. It shows 86 percent of residents have a very favorable or somewhat favorable view of the 39-acre transformation.

GFW Inc. Board Chair Andrew Thomas says the results provide a confidence boost for stakeholders. "It gives us energy," he told Inside INdiana Business. "Sometimes this things take time, right? And we've been working pretty hard at it and you can sometimes second guess yourself. When a survey like this comes out, and you have 86 percent of the people in the county that were polled for it (view it favorably), what it does is it energizes you."

The project, which is expected to include private and public investment totaling $440 million, still needs funding approval from the City Council and other city and county bodies. The survey was conducted by Pittsburgh-based Campos Research & Strategy, and it showed what the executive summary of the results considered to be "some disturbing facts." It said over half of the respondents "were unaware of the fact that the Electric Works project cannot move forward without an additional $65 million in local funding." Once presented with this information, the authors say two-thirds of respondents said they supported using local, public funding sources like the Legacy Fund for the project. Mid-May, the city released a draft proposal to developers that outlined $62 million in city funding officials expect to put toward the project, much more than the $50 million Mayor Tom Henry had planned to push for earlier in the process. Days before the most recent draft was announced, the City Council approved a zoning hurdle involving Electric Works. In May, Electric Works developer RTM Ventures released results of a study it commissioned that said the massive project would help the city meet demand for housing, office and retail space.

GFW Inc. anticipates Electric Works will support over 1,900 construction jobs through two years of construction and lead to more than 1,500 permanent jobs and a $387 million annual economic impact after it's complete.

In May, GFW Inc. announced that outgoing Chief Executive Officer Eric Doden would turn the organization's responsibilities related to the project over to Executive Vice President of Economic Development John Urbahns. The first Electric Works employee, Managing Director of Innovation Crystal Vann Wallstrom, was announced in January.

You can connect to the full GFW Inc.-commissioned survey results by clicking here.

GFW Inc. Board Chair Andrew Thomas says the results provide a confidence boost for stakeholders.
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