Touting several development projects throughout the city, Mayor Tom Henry described Fort Wayne as a city on the rise.
"We need to be ready to bring these new projects and initiatives to the Fort," Henry said. "Now is the time to seize the moment. Our momentum has to continue. This window of opportunity won't be open forever."
Henry highlighted downtown projects including The Landing, Promenade Park, the Skyline Tower, Cityscape Flats, Superior Lofts, the Continental Property Group's planned mixed-use building and two new hotels – a boutique hotel at the intersection of Harrison and Main streets, and a new Hampton Inn & Suites across from Grand Wayne Center.
"All of these projects are part of the bigger picture we're painting in Fort Wayne," Henry said, thanking the Allen County commissioners for their partnership. "Our initiatives are bringing about a new sense of pride and an even greater willingness to embrace current residents and welcome new people to our city."
Almost 6 million tourists spent more than $600 million in Fort Wayne last year, Henry said. Eleven thousand Fort Wayne jobs are supported by tourism.
Fort Wayne's business community is also thriving, Henry said.
"In 2017, we were able to retain more than 3,000 jobs and create 1,800 new jobs," Henry said. "It's a total private investment of nearly $250 million. Companies like Fort Wayne Metals, SIRVA, Web Industries and Prairie Farms are making significant investments. It's no surprise that we've been named a top city for finding a job."
Despite this, Henry said there's still room for improvement when it comes to wages in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana.
"Job training, skill development and education must be addressed," Henry said. "Continued dialogue with our school systems, post secondary educators, skilled trades and vocational training needs to be a priority. Support for comprehensive preschool programs, the Bookstart Initiative and Early Child Alliance, among other projects, must also be pursued."
Henry also touted $100 million in neighborhood infrastructure investment since 2014 and highlighted another $30 million earmarked for those projects in 2018.
"The attention we're paying to neighborhoods is telling," Henry said. "We've been named the best city in the country to raise a family. And just last month, Business Insider called Fort Wayne the best city in Indiana to live."
In an interview after the speech, City Council President Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, said Henry covered the gamut of things that are happening in Fort Wayne.
"We have a lot of momentum, obviously, going on in Fort Wayne. More than we've ever seen," Freistroffer said. "And we just have to continue to ride on that momentum."