8 min read

April 30, 2024 | How will Google affect Fort Wayne's economy?

April 30, 2024 | How will Google affect Fort Wayne's economy?

Hey Locals,

Google announced details on plans for its $2 billion investment in a Fort Wayne data center. We also answer some of our biggest questions about the city's new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) coming to Downtown this Sunday on Cinco De Mayo. And we have a hot and fresh new deal for you this next month!

In May: We're partnering with GK Cafe & Provisions to bring all paid subscribers one of their sinfully delicious cinny rolls for FREE.

You can gain access to our monthly freebies (and our premium newsletter) with a paid membership. And guess what? You can get that Cinny Roll with this 30-day free trial.

Community Event: When starting The Local, one of our goals was to harness our community to help Fort Wayne neighbors in need. So we're organizing a day of service through Neighborlink. On May 18th, we'd like to get our subscribers together and help a few neighbors with spring yard work for an afternoon. It'll be a chance to support our community and meet fellow subscribers. If that sounds like something you are interested in, sign up here! We'll follow up with specific details in a separate in email closer to the date.

Now, let's get started!

Google shared details on its $2 billion data center campus coming to Fort Wayne.

We recap what Gov. Eric Holcomb called a “historic day for the state of Indiana.”

What's happening?

As Google prepares for artificial intelligence-fueled growth, it broke ground last week on its first data center in Indiana at 5801 Adams Center Rd. The ceremony came with announcements about the company's investments in the local economy, jobs and other perks.

Here are a few quick things to know:

  • Investment: Google's 12-building data center campus will be a $2 billion investment in Fort Wayne, starting with an $850 million Phase 1. The project is getting a 10-year, 50% tax abatement, but it will still bring a "steep rise in property tax income" to Southeast Fort Wayne, where its land previously generated about $30,000 in county taxes in 2023. "Starting in 2025, the city will never receive less than $1 million" from its real estate taxes, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly reports. (We're looking into how these tax revenues might be utilized by the city.)
  • Jobs: The data center campus is expected to create up to 200 jobs. Previous reports have said some of Google's jobs in Fort Wayne will have an average salary of $64,993, which is 125% of the average wage of Allen County. Google is also partnering with Ivy Tech Community College to bring its Skilled Trades and Readiness (STAR) program here, which has proven effective in helping low-income workers achieve middle-class jobs and careers. These pre-employment programs offer paid training and networking for participants to gain employment on local construction projects with a goal to “increase the entry-level pipeline in the skilled trades with a focus on underrepresented communities."
  • Energy: The data center campus will collaborate with Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) to add clean energy to the local grid and "help maintain affordable, reliable service for all I&M customers," a press release says, noting this supports Google's 2030 goal to run its data centers and campuses on carbon-free energy (CFE). Google currently matches its global annual electricity consumption with renewable energy purchases. However, power consumption can be a challenge with data centers nationally – particularly when multiple flock to an area – causing states like Georgia to suspend tax breaks for data center construction there this spring.
  • Additional support: Google's community and programmatic support it brings to cities has been one reason local leaders support the data center's development. On Friday, it announced $250,000 of initial funding for two Fort Wayne initiatives: the new Fort Wayne Early Learning Center, serving East Allen County and Fort Wayne Community Schools, and Just Neighbors Interfaith Homeless Network, Fort Wayne’s only local emergency housing shelter for families.

Why it matters

Google's investment in Fort Wayne is sizable, historic and could help upskill the state's workforce, mitigating threats to Indiana's surplus of low-skilled jobs as technology and artificial intelligence advance.

For more insights: We spoke with Director of Purdue University Fort Wayne's Community Research Institute Rachel Blakeman in our premium newsletter.

NOTE: Links to Journal Gazette articles are marked(*) and may be behind a paywall.

Fort Wayne's first Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) Downtown goes into effect on Cinco De Mayo, 7 a.m.-3 a.m. daily.
  • Fort Wayne's first Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) Downtown goes into effect on Cinco De Mayo, 7 a.m.-3 a.m. daily. This means: You'll soon be able to order drinks on The Landing and carry them all the way to Parkview Field (or vice versa). See a map and rules here. (Another DORA is already underway in Fort Wayne at Electric Works, but not open yet. Indiana allows cities to have up to seven.) So far, 19 establishments are signed up to participate in the Downtown DORA, and more can be added. Drinks must be purchased and consumed in designated cups (above), and guests can order up to two at a time. So how have DORAs played out in other cities? How do you get people to follow the rules without wreaking havoc? And what happens to all those plastic cups? We spoke with leaders of a similar DORA in Toledo, Ohio, about their experience to answer 10 of our biggest questions here.
  • Mayor Sharon Tucker was sworn in last Tuesday, and a second caucus will be held to fill her seat on City Council. Tucker tells The JG* she is already making good on efforts to recruit a Mental Health Council to address housing and homelessness, calling it one of her "pet projects" as mayor, but noting: "I know that it is a large, large challenge, and it has multiple layers on top of it. So it’s going to take us some time, and we’re going to have to (address it) layer by layer to be able to make an impact.” In the meantime, a caucus to fill her 6th District City Council seat will be held by the Democratic precinct again on May 18 at 10 a.m. at the Bricklayers Union No. 4 (similar to the mayoral caucus that elected Tucker). The deadline for candidates to file is May 15. "Each candidate must have lived in the 6th District for at least one year; their two most recent primary votes must have been in Democratic primaries; and they can’t be a convicted felon," WANE 15 reports.

Plus: Median home price increases. Millions in state funding for local projects. A new donut shop and new businesses on Broadway. Read all about it in our premium newsletter.

May Deal: FREE GK Cinny Rolls for all paid subscribers!

GK Cafe & Provisions team shares a few pro tips for your next visit.

In May, all paid subscribers to The Local get FREE Cinny Rolls at GK Cafe & Provisions. (Photo by Danielle Doepke)

What's happening?

GK Cafe & Provisions is partnering with us in May to offer all paid subscribers one of their ooey gooey Cinny Rolls for FREE. We love these rolls so much, and take visitors to get them whenever we host guests from out of town.

GK holds a special place in our hearts as one of our first stories as The Local last year, too. It's hard to believe it's been more than a year since their cafe and market opened Downtown. Take a gander back at our original piece for details on Chef and Owner Grace Kelly (GK) May's work as a classically trained pastry chef who studied in Chicago and worked/managed kitchens across the U.S., starting as young as age 23.

This week: We caught up with GK's Marketing Manager Katie Jo to get a few pro tips for your next visit:

  • More than pastries: GK's all-day café menu features a wide variety of items, from biscuits and gravy to avocado toast or fruit parfaits. "Best part? It’s available anytime we’re open!" Jo says. We've heard their chicken salad sandwich is a great lunch option, too.
  • Menu recs: "The cruffin is one of my favorite pastries, but the star of the show lately has been the Crookie," Jo says. The Crookie is a cross between a croissant and a chocolate chip cookie. The Cruffin is a croissant baked in a muffin tin, dusted with sugar, and it's one of our personal favorites, too – buttery, flaky and lightly sweet. If you're in the mood for something savory, you can't go wrong with an everything bagel, and for warmer weather, their housemade ice cream is a must! We'd pair it all with an Americano or London Fog and a seat by the window for prime people-watching.
  • Local groceries: If you miss the Saturday farmers market, you can still shop local throughout the week at GK's Downtown market, featuring pantry staples and curated national and local products. "We love our local providers, like Cook’s Orchard Honey, Wood Farms frozen beef, BroxonBerry greens, Wholesome Meadows eggs, and we just started carrying Kuehnert Dairy Farm milk butter and cheese curds!" Jo says.

Stop by soon to see for yourself, and use this 30-day free trial to claim your offer!

  • Shop: Plants on the Patio at Crescendo Coffee & More on May 5, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m., with local vendors and a Bring a Start, Take a Start table.
  • Browse: art by the staff at JK O'Donnell's tonight, 6-9 p.m. Their outdoor patio, The Pitch, opens May 3 at 4 p.m.
  • Listen: to bands at the inaugural Celestial Fest to honor local music at Ambrosia Orchard on May 4, 11 a.m.-midnight ($10).

What else? We recommend more things to do in our premium newsletter. Try it with a 30-day free trial.

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Got a story tip or idea?

Let us know at thelocalfortwayne@gmail.com.

Have a great week, Locals!

-Your Editor, Kara Hackett