Ft. Wayne's air trade alliance

Ft. Wayne's air trade alliance Indiana airport overcomes setbacks and repositions itself in the process By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director April 2002 Skip Miller, A.A.E., executive director of airports WAYNE, IN - C.T...

Regarding economic development, the airport authority early on decided to tie in the future of the airport with industrial development, leading to the creation of the Air Trade Center. At the same time, a joint venture was undertaken with the Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce. According to Miller, the objectives were three-fold:

o promote the Air Trade Center;
o develop the airport for other non-aeronautical purposes as property became available; and
o air service development and enhancement, which was a primary target of the business leaders.

A marketing team was hired, based at the airport, and paid for by the authority, although they were considered employees of the Chamber. "So, we have this coupling of the business community with the airport," explains Miller. "We have buy-in of the business community."

More recently, the initiative has evolved further to incorporate the Ft. Wayne/Allen County Economic Development Alliance. Says Miller, "With the advent of the new agency, we're going to be moving two components of our marketing team to the economic development alliance - the aeronautical development for the Air Trade Center and the non-aeronautical development. The air service development and enhancement elements of our marketing will remain with the Chamber of Commerce, because that's really the biggest focal point of the business community."

The primary targets for the Air Trade Center remain air freight, aircraft maintenance, aircraft manufacturing, and sub-component manufacturing, says Miller. Secondary targets include related industries such as trucking, perishable goods facilities, and other support companies.

Full-time customs is in place and the Air Trade Center lies within a foreign trade zone. The state offers permanent tax abatement incentives to attract new business. Ongoing marketing will continue to include cargo trade shows, and Miller says a new "bottom up" localized marketing program will first track cargo moving through Ft. Wayne and then be directed at receivers at the other end, who will then be pitched on the benefits of being based here.

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