Fort Wayne-based Aptera Inc. is planning to relocate its headquarters elsewhere downtown and add 20 jobs. The digital marketing technology firm plans to pump $2.6 million into renovating the former Allen County courthouse annex building. President T.K. Herman told the Fort Wayne City Council Tuesday the company located downtown about a decade ago and the growth that has taken place in the urban core since has been big for Aptera.
"It’s been amazing to see the transformation over the last nine years and I would emphatically say ‘yes,’ the things that are happening downtown are absolutely — not only allowing us to attract, but also retain people, for sure," he said.
The City Council approved a 10-year tax abatement on Aptera’s expansion investment, which Herman says also played a role in the company staying put. During a presentation to council members, he was asked if he would consider moving from Fort Wayne if the abatement — anticipated to save Aptera some $470,000 over the decade — wasn’t granted. "I think that we’d have to think about the size of the investment, for sure, because getting an abatement like this — we had a tax abatement on the building we bought on Main Street (the company’s current headquarters) and we plowed all the money back into the business," Herman told the council. "So, while we put down that our job is to grow 20 jobs, I can tell you this: that we’d have way more space than 20 jobs available to us in the new building."
In 2013, Aptera announced details of a nearly $800,000 expansion that included 17 additional jobs. It currently employs close to 90 workers. The new jobs, the company says, are expected to pay wages above the average rate in the county — more than $70,000 per year.
During a presentation to council members, Herman responded to a question about whether the company would leave Fort Wayne if it wasn’t granted tax abatement.