Frijia: Continued Investment Driving Growth in Northeast Indiana
Northeast Indiana has a goal to increase its population to 1 million residents by 2030, and over the last decade, the population in the region has grown about 5%. Last May, the U.S. Census Bureau said Fort Wayne was the fastest-growing metro area in the Great Lakes Region in 2020 with a 0.89% growth rate. Stephane Frijia, chief executive officer of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, says the region’s growth can be attributed to local leaders making investments in their communities to attract talent.
Frijia discussed the growth in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Frijia, who was tapped to lead the partnership in September, says major projects in Fort Wayne such as the Electric Works mixed-use innovation district and The Landing are leading the way for talent attraction in the region.
“These projects are really what told me that this community is ready to take risks, ready to invest in themselves, and ready to move forward,” said Frijia. “We’re creating the impression that it is possible and the investors are getting the returns. I think the momentum that we’ve seen here in Fort Wayne, specifically as people move through the region, carries over also to other parts of the region all the way to Warsaw, all the way to Angola and in between.”
There has been an estimated $1 billion in investment in downtown Fort Wayne over the last 10 years with another $1 billion expected in the next 4-5 years. Mayor Tom Henry told Inside INdiana Business recently that investment is translating into more people coming downtown.
“We’ve more than quadrupled the amount of people that live downtown now, and as a result, more and more investors are approaching us and saying, ‘Will you partner with us to do this particular project?'” said Henry. “That’s the way it’s been for about the last 10 years.”
The Wall Street Journal has also ranked Fort Wayne 7th in its list of emerging housing markets in the country. Frijia says there is an even greater demand in the city.
“As we kind of tackle workforce and we tackle housing and more attainable housing for the workforce, we’ll see those trends moving up,” he said.