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Mayor Addresses Hot Topics

Written by: Bernadette BeckerFebruary 17, 2016

The State of the City address by Tom Henry was held at the Grand Wayne Center Feb. 10 and covered a variety of changes and progress the city has witnessed throughout 2015.

Fort Wayne Water Utilities won many awards in 2015. Unlike the infamous infrastructure in Flint, Mich., Fort Wayne’s water system has been updated and has increased capacities, and there are more plans in the work. Mayor Tom Henry stated that the city is four years ahead of schedule in sewage improvements and also under budget.

In regards to job creation and retention, Henry touted that Fort Wayne is a “positive business climate” and that it has seen $1.3 billion in business investments, with diversified employment options. He cited the creation of the Ash Skyline project as a sign of the positive growth in the city. Henry brought up the idea of a downtown arena but said that if the financial viability is not there then he will forgo the idea for a few years.

Henry stated that small businesses, too, have been strengthened. Henry gave the example of Yeoman Service Center on Petit Avenue, as a specific incidence of small business improvement since the center is expanding and hiring more employees. He recognized the representatives of Yeoman Service Center in attendance, as he did throughout the address.

Neighborhoods held a place of great importance for Henry, who mentioned $60 million worth of neighborhood improvements in three years as a sign of his commitment to the city’s residents. The money will be spent on roads, sidewalks and paths, such as an additional 5 miles of trails. There will be a new traffic circle on Sherman Ave near the Five Points region.

Neighborlink, a nonprofit organization to help homeowners with volunteer projects,  was promoted and celebrated by Henry, who said that Neighborlink would complete over 40 projects this year to improve the city.

Fort Wayne will start a new bike-sharing program this year in the downtown area, similar to what has been started in major metropolitan centers throughout the U.S.

The Mayor also explained that the city is expanding the police and fire departments, adding 42 firefighters and 26 police officers. With that, Henry cited slightly lower crime rates but affirmed that public safety is his top priority.

“It’s about servant leadership and valuing human life,” Henry said.

The Riverfront development will increase this year as well, and as Henry explained Fort Wayne has been ranked as the seventh most affordable place for millennials to attain home ownership. Henry said that since coming to office in 2008 he has helped remove 22,000 homes from flooding and basement backup risk. Acquisition of land and demolition of structure on the land will enable development soon.

City employees will undergo pay review to see if they are being paid appropriately for their position, and Henry is proposing that women get eight weeks paid maternity leave. He also encouraged all business owners to review the wages of their employees to ensure they are being compensated justly.

Overall, Henry stated that the city is “moving in the right direction,” and as he closed his speech he said that “we’re positioned for success and investment like never before.”

2015 Fort Wayne Awards

Partnership for Save Water 15-Year Director’s Award

    – US EPA and American Water Works Association (AWWA)’

2015 Gold Peak Performance Award for Water Pollution Control Plant

    – National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)

2015 Government Green Fleet Award

     -American City and County Magazine

2015 Public Information and Education Award

      – National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)

Sustainable Indiana Green Legacy Award

     -  Sustainable Indiana

                                                                                 -According to the City of Fort Wayne

“2015 the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States study ranks Indiana third in the nation as the best place in which to do business.
2015 State Business Tax Climate Index by the Tax Foundation ranks Indiana eighth best in the country, up from 10th in 2014, and Indiana remains the top state in the Midwest for business tax competitiveness.
2015 Brookings Institution Study ranks Indiana fourth in the nation for its concentration of jobs in advanced industries. Tech-related industries employ more than 11 percent of the state’s workforce.
2015 Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index Indiana ranks first in the Midwest and eighth nationally.”

-Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership