FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - New businesses are seemingly popping up everyday in downtown Fort Wayne and while this development is seen as a positive sign by many, some say there isn’t the same development in the south east side.
Sit-down restaurants, media management companies, new hotels, and residential units, these are just some of the new businesses that have located in downtown fort wayne over the past 5 years.
However, some people feel that the mayor and business leaders aren’t doing enough for business development on the southeast side.
Ervin Upshaw, who works on the southeast side of Fort Wayne said “...I feel like dude just he really just not really paying attention to me. I feel like he say he paying attention to us, but he really not paying attention to the south side at all.”
The same sentiment was echoed by 6th district Councilman Glynn Hines, who the councilman for that side of town, saying
“they're making little to no strides. I think he's a good ribbon-cutter I don't think he has any teeth in what he says he wants to do.”
This is the feeling of many people living in southeast Fort Wayne who have seen a steady exodus of businesses, something Kirk Moriarty, the director of business development for Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says has been happening in many industrialized cities.
Moriarty said, “you look 30 years in the history of any midwest midsize market, there was a flight to the suburbs. There was a flight of our manufacturing jobs and industrial jobs and it's taking us awhile to replace that and I think slowly, but surely, we’re doing that.”
The city is already working on replacing those jobs with businesses like XPO Logistics, Multimatic, and the Walmart dairy processing plant all locating near the southeast side.
But, jobs aren’t the main concern as employment in the city is under 3% according to Councilman Hines, it’s retailers and restaurants that are missing.
“We have disposal in come we don't drive a lot of mercedes and lexus. We drive, you know, buicks you know things of that nature. So, we have disposable income and we go north to spend that disposable income and what my challenge is that we shouldn't have to do that. We should have the same Applebee's or a buffalo wings and things type of restaurants right here on the south side that they have in every other part of town,” Hines said
Ervin upshaw who works on the southeast side agrees, saying
“There’s a whole bunch of buildings you can just turn that into or like from the food places. We don’t have a dunkin donuts, we don’t have a tom’s...I forgot the name, but just little things like that can just help us.”
Hines believes that businesses are missing a golden opportunity, saying
“There's about 80,000 people that live in the south side of Fort Wayne between Calhoun Street to the city limits, which is basically the southeast quadrant. That’s basically 80,000 consumers.”
“People say that, you know, there’s no...You bring a business to the southside, you won’t make no money. But it’s just like, if you don't give no opportunities to it, then how can you say that,” said Upshaw
When asked if the city was missing an opportunity, Upshaw said,
“Yeah, yeah there's a lot of missed opportunities.”
Moriarty says a number of factors play into the selecting where a new business builds, one of which is housing. The construction of Prosperity Heights on Mckinnie Avenue and Bottleworks on Pontiac means more quality housing, and with how the southeast side is set up, Moriarty believes they are going to benefit from how the business world is evolving and new businesses will attract retailers and restaurants along the way.
“I think we have a substantial advantage because even though you're even though you're seeing a paradigm shift in retail. Big box stores scaling down...I think the southeast stands in a perfect position to sell its wares to sell the fact that these well-organized very walkable very gregarious and amiable neighborhood residents who live in southeast and work in southeast are ready for that kind of new age retail environment,” Moriarty said.