Friday, April 06, 2007

Fort Wayne problems

The largest problem in Fort Wayne today is the fact that our wages are 83% of the national average. We need to attract more and higher paying jobs to Fort Wayne and we need to retain those that we have. If we can improve wages and employment in Fort Wayne then we can deal with some of our other problems.

The low wages in Fort Wayne hurt us in several ways:

1. Residents of Fort Wayne pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes then most other states. I have posted about this before. Fort Wayne residents pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes then the average California resident. This leaves us with less disposable income.

2. Many younger people are leaving Fort Wayne due to a lack of opportunities. This will cause us large problems down the road.

3. Residents do not have a lot of disposable income to spend.

4. Property taxes are rising rapidly and it is really hurting our ability to attract new businesses. This has to be resolved.

In my opinion we need our elected officials to focus on local jobs and wages. There is nothing else that is as important as this issue.

I think that we can attract and retain jobs by doing the following:

1. Lower taxes on businesses. I want to do this across the board. I am tired of granting tax abatements to a few businesses and ignoring small businesses. We need to lower taxes. The best first step would be to abolish personal property taxes in Allen County.

2. We need to streamline our permits and our regulations we put on business owners. Several businesses have left Fort Wayne because they did not want to deal with the "red tape."

3. We need to stop spending money and increasing the debt our local government has incurred. We should only incur debt if it will draw new jobs and money to this area. Extraneous projects need to be put on hold.

Mike Sylvester


David Corcoran said...


I agree with what you say but the big difference with young people today is that choose a location before choosing the job. We must be attractive in both amenities important to young professionals and have the jobs for them. They go hand in hand.


LP Mike Sylvester said...

Dave Corcoran:


I would like to pursue your thought further and I would ask other poeple to respond to Dave's point.

I grew up in Fort Wayne and left when I was 22. I moved back when I was 33. I lived in Florida, New York, Hawaii, California, Omaha, and Kansas City - Missouri.

When I was moving from place to place I always moved based on employment. I never moved for a reason other then employment EXCEPT when I moved back to Fort Wayne.

Do you really think people move based on other reasons?

Your employees moved here based on employment, right?

I think jobs come first. Once the jobs are here everything else will follow.

Mike Sylvester

David Corcoran said...


In our case, they came to work for us because we are working on some of the coolest technology out there and this is where we happenned to be. A good article about this:

LP Mike Sylvester said...


That helps prove my point actually.

Your employees came to Fort Wayne because of a job and NOT because of amenities.

Mike Sylvester

Robert Enders said...

Different areas have different appeals. We cannot compete with other cities by trying to imitate them.
Many young people will move to Los Angeles with the hope of becoming an actor or New York with the hope of becoming a writer. They end up becoming waiters or simply unemployed. Fort Wayne does not need to attract idiots like that.

Angry White Boy said...

I do came to this town for a job when it was a tiny blip back in 1978. On top of that, I moved from beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona.

The young dumb and stupid might choose for that reason, and ammenities may be high on their list. However, as a parent I can tell you the reason I stay here is because of the school system (I'm in Aboite), low crime rates (I grew up in Detroit), plenty of competitive shopping, the lakes, etc.

David, you're operating a few french fries short of a happy meal. That article is talking about Atlanta, Memphis, San Francisco, Denver, Portland, and Austin, Texas. Fort Wayne cannot compete with that and to imply that by pointing to that article is bull$-t.

barranda said...

The two are not mutually exclusive, gentlemen. Dave, you got it right with the last sentence of your first post.

If I wanted to work for Deloitte, many of their positions are fungible, if you will. Do you think they get more applicants for Chicago or Boise?
However, if I don't have the luxury to choose, I probably go where the job is.

On the other hand, there's probably just as many people that move to a certain city in hopes of getting a job, or a better job.

Seriously, Mike: "than"

Change Fort Wayne said...

If you are offered similar jobs in different areas, thats where we need to set ourselves apart. We need the best amenities and attractions that we can get. Couple those with low cost of living and good paying jobs, Fort Wayne would be hard to pass up.

Change Fort Wayne said...

Mike -

Also, were any of those move due to the military though?

I completely disagree with you on this one Mike. Someone asked me where I was thinking about moving, my reply was - Austin, Denver, or maybe DC. I didn't name a company, I know I can get a job.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Let's build a quick hypothetical here:

I want to open a light manufacturing firm building circuit boards for communications electronics. I will employ 4 SMT techs, 10 electronic engineers, an 8-man sales staff, a 4-man shipping department, and a hybrid admin/customer service department.

That's 30 jobs ranging from $25k to $125k per year.

I will need bright, young, creative engineers and salespeople, not some hayseed hicks that got suckered into giving Employment One $175 dollars...

How am I going to find those 20 employees here? There is absolutely nothing to draw people like that to Fort Wayne unless they like one-story strip malls and Wal Mart.

That being said, how in the hell is Fort Wayne supposed to attract businesses like this? These are the types of businesses that make our economy strong...without providing some legitimate features and benefits that would interest young, smart, marketable people, there can't be a talent pool here deep enough to even get employers to look our way. Employees like these are in demand all over the country...I'd like for Mike or AWB to explain to me in writing how you suggest we make our bait look better than that being offered in other places. THAT is what this discussion is about...a viable, fun, vibrant city that can be attractive to the kind of talent that makes businesses successful, innovative etc.

LP Mike Sylvester said...


There certainly is quite a bit of truth to what you say. I can most likely get a job in most places; however, I have often moved for the best job.

When I got out of the Navy I was stationed in Hawaii. I had job offers in Nebraska (Nuclear Power Plant), Tamba Bay (Contract trainer for US Postal Service), New Mexico (Los Alamos Labs), and Oregon (Intel).

I chose Nebraska. I would argue that Oregon, Tampa Bay, and New Mexico all had more amenities. I chose Nebraska because I felt it was a better job. I have always chose the better job or better career.

So I am using myself as an example, I moved based on job not amenities...

Change Fort Wayne:

I agree that when people have multiple choices there are other factors; however, I think the other factors are more likely to be high quality schools, weather, low taxes, low cost of living, etc. (Not where a single A baseball stadium is located)

Also some of those moves WERE when I was in the navy. When I joined the navy and moved from Fort Wayne I was moving to get a job. When I left the navy I moved to Nebraska for a civilian job. When I moved to KCMO from Nebraska it was for a job. When I moved back to Fort Wayne I did not move for a job. I moved in spite of a lack of jobs.

I think jobs come first.

I think that lowering taxes on businesses is the best way to draw jobs...

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...


Isn't the obvious answer a minor league baseball stadium?

Andrew Kaduk said...

Perhaps not, but at least somebody's trying something. Fort Wayne has screwed itself over with poor zoning and idiotic effort to reverse that damage is definitely in order.

Robert Enders said...

We have young, bright engineers working at Raytheon, ITT, GE, etc. Is it your contention that these educated, intelligent people will base their decision to move here based on whether or not a minor league team gets a new stadium?

Andrew Kaduk said...

I don't remember saying that, but I do remember saying that I thought that Fort Wayne needs fixing, and there's nothing wrong with supporting efforts aimed at helping the many, MANY problems...

Harrison Square is but a small piece in a much larger acting like the ball park is the extent of the plans and that somehow it is viewed by the project's supporters as a magic bean of sorts borders on ignorance.

David Corcoran said...


I have to think we are a bit unique in Fort Wayne. We do some pretty cool and high tech stuff for our size and we find people that are passionate about that and are willing to deal with the drawbacks of Fort Wayne in order to work for us. Every Macintosh has our software on it. Every Sun Microsystems machine has our software on it. Every Xerox printer has our software on it. It is all ultra-security related.

I live here to be close to my family. If they were not here, I probably wouldn't be here either.

Anonymous said...

AngryWhiteBoy - you are the reason why Fort Wayne fails. I think the name says it all ....

Robert Enders said...

Ok, but even if Harrison Square on the whole is a good plan, the ballpark and hotel constitute bad parts of a good plan. Even though I'm oppose to the entire plan, it boggles my mind that supporters are stubbornly defending the ballpark and the hotel. You'd get much more support if you weren't just duplicating things that this town already has. You still wouldn't get my support, but Harrison Square depends on getting more public support in general and not my support in particular.

Jeff Pruitt said...


I burst into laughter after reading your original comment. You do have a way with words...

Jeff Pruitt said...


You could easily fill those positions in this town. There are plenty of engineering companies from which to draw talent from.

The problem isn't that we have a shortage of people with those skills - afterall we do have a brain drain right? It's that we don't have enough JOBS to keep them here.

I mean isn't THAT the real problem? Even if every single person we lose to brain drain wanted to stay here, they simply don't have anywhere to work.

Building baseball stadiums doesn't solve that problem - it simply distracts people from the REAL problem at hand...

Anonymous said...

Have you thought that maybe the tax issues we will face shortly will counter whatever good this stadium might bring?

Andrew Kaduk said...

"There are plenty of engineering companies from which to draw talent from."

Wouldn't that just be economic rearrangement?

As far as tax issues go, Mr. Sylvester the accountant has already said that property taxes will only be going up 0.1% from this thing. Is that unsustainable? I realize that it sucks, but there are things that have been done to the city of Fort Wayne which have cost the taxpayers far, far more.

The way I see this one is that the people of Fort Wayne habitually elect big-government politicians. This being the case, Fort Wayne residents should not only EXPECT, but yearn for their money to be taken in taxes and redistributed as public works.

Y'all elected a Democrat mayor and a bunch of big gubment city coucilmen: Go ahead and reap your rewards!

Harrison square, here we come! Oh, and by "we," I mean YOU, because I don't pay Fort Wayne property taxes. Of course, I didn't elect your city leaders either. I will, however, go downtown and enjoy the new stadium, fireworks etc.

Steve said...

For me, the biggest problem with Fort Wayne is the weather, and that's not likely to change, Harrison Square or no Harrison Square.

I stay here because 1) it's easier than moving, 2) it's cheap, and 3) my family is here.

I like that we're big enough to have decent shopping and a few cultural things, yet small enough to be relatively safe and not too crowded.

As a young professional, I'm not too concerned about the lack of nightlife. My idea of nightlife is a DVD and bowl of popcorn.

If it weren't for the reasons above, I might be one of those people who picked a location first and a job second. I would make sure I found a job I liked before I moved though.

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