FORT WAYNE - One of the goals of Fort Wayne's $440 million Electric Works project is to attract talent to northeast Indiana. Before the first shovel of dirt is turned for the public-private partnership, it appears to be working. The project, planned for the historic former General Electric campus near downtown, has hired its first full-time employee. "I love the big, audacious project," said Crystal Vann Walstrom, Electric Works’ new Managing Director of Innovation, who is already at work developing a strategy to create public-private partnerships among industry, academia, nonprofits and startups that will fill more than 83,000 square-feet of space.

In an interview on this weekend's edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Vann Walstrom talked about what attracted her to Fort Wayne.

Vann Walstrom appeared on the show with Jeff Kingsbury, managing partner at Greenstreet Ltd., one of the project's development partners.  

Both agree Electric Works will be a unique blend of history and the future at a site that was once an economic engine for the region and state, employing more than 20,000 workers in the mid-1940's. "It's 132 years of manufacturing and innovation, and we're going to build on that history and really help lead us into the future," said Kingsbury.

Vann Walstrom says interest in the project is strong. "I don't think we've heard from anyone who is not interested," said Vann Walstrom. "At this point, it's about trying to figure out the role each of them will play, what degree programs, what research they're working on and what are the workforce needs of the industry and how can we align those together."

Kingsbury says remediation work will soon begin on the former manufacturing site, with construction to start this summer. He says phase one of Electric Works should welcome its first tenants in 2020. 

"Our vision is to create, through a public-private partnership, a mixed-use district of innovation, energy and culture, infused this inventive history of Fort Wayne and the region," said Kingsbury. "Electric Works is a manifestation of what this community said they wanted, going back now ten years. It's about talent, it's about jobs and, ultimately, it's also going to change the neighborhood as well as downtown."

View the full interview: