The Fort Wayne Community Schools’ board approved a 10-year lease for the development of a new Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) high school at Electric Works.

Building 31, formerly an office building built in 1942 during General Electric’s rapid growth during World War II, the new STEAM school will include approximately 25,000 square feet on Swinney Avenue. It will be one of only a handful of schools nationwide focused on the STEAM disciplines and established in an active mixed-use district, connecting students to career pathways alongside entrepreneurs, innovators and mentors.

The historic, two-story building will provide students hands-on and project-based learning through a personalized, immersive learning environment. Through partnerships with local and regional employers, the school will be based on a model of industry-focused experiential learning and – by developing a new generation of skilled talent – work to transition graduates to college and / or to high-tech, high-wage jobs.

The school’s innovative design will forgo the traditional classroom setting, instead featuring ample collaborative and group-study spaces, as well as dedicated, high-tech lab studios for programs focused on entrepreneurship / business, animation / computer technology, agriculture technology, and digital music.

“Our STEAM school at Electric Works will be vitally important in strengthening our ability to connect the education our students receive with real-world application and effect,” said Julie Hollingsworth, president of the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees. “Electric Works provides a unique and inspiring opportunity for our students to be as close as possible to the industries and careers they’re studying.”

“The STEAM school is part of a continuum of education opportunities that are critical to realizing this community’s vision of Electric Works as a district of innovation and opportunity,” added Jeff Kingsbury of RTM Ventures, the development team behind Electric Works. “Quality public education is critical to any community’s economic development strategy. As we partner with Fort Wayne Community Schools to leverage public and private funding to deliver this unique model of experiential learning for the families of Fort Wayne, we are grateful for Dr. Wendy Robinson’s leadership and the board’s commitment.”

The STEAM school is planned to open with the Electric Works west campus in 2022.

Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana is an empowered group of young professionals from throughout the region who are engaging our community head-on, making a positive impact on the places in which they work and live. From the beginning, they’ve been enthusiastic supporters of Electric Works, recognizing the profound positive impact it will have on our community. They recently voiced that support with an endorsement video – and we are grateful for their continued support and advocacy.

 

Electric Works has received an important federal agency approval, the latest in a series of significant steps forward for the redevelopment of the former General Electric campus in downtown Fort Wayne, as the project moves closer to the start of construction later this year.

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“That money could flow into Fort Wayne at a possibly crucial time, creating jobs and bolstering hope that Fort Wayne can regain its economic development momentum.”

Read the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette’s editorial in support of Electric Works – and its potential economic impact at a time when it’s needed  most –  here.

“We believe Electric Works is an absolutely vital project for northeast Indiana, as well as a tremendous opportunity for Do it Best. It presents a bold vision to bring needed jobs, leading-edge innovation and top talent to our part of the state.”

Our city, county and region are fortunate to have Do it Best Corp. as one of our largest and most important employers. And we are honored to have them as a partner in this transformational project.

Read their entire letter of support in today’s Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette here.

Many people have reached out to understand the impact of the global pandemic on, and express their support for, Electric Works.

Perhaps for the first time ever, the President and Governors have intentionally shut down the American economy to fight our shared enemy, the coronavirus. Key stakeholders we have been working with on Electric Works, including government agencies and financial institutions, have been understandably disrupted, necessarily focusing on this public health crisis and its unknown duration. Consequently, the global pandemic and its impact on the economy, financial markets and governmental operations likely will cause delay to finalize the Electric Works deal and commence construction.

Contracts such as our Economic Development Agreement with the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission commonly contain provisions that anticipate unique outside forces, such as a global pandemic causing delay. With our partners at the City of Fort Wayne, we included such provisions and are in regular communication with our public funding partners about the status of the project.

At the same time, our work and progress continue. Tenants and financial partners remain committed to the project; our anchor tenant, Do It Best Corp., remains actively engaged, working with us to make Electric Works the ideal place for its global headquarters and 400-plus employees. In addition, work continues in preparation for the start of construction. At a time when many residents are losing their jobs amid record unemployment claims, our partners in Fort Wayne and around the State of Indiana continue to keep their teams employed and actively engaged. We’re grateful for the hundreds of people for their continuing work and commitment to this project and this community.

Weigand Construction, for example, continues with environmental remediation work, while our dedicated team of Fort Wayne-based architects and engineers – Elevatus, Engineering Resources, Design Collaborative, MSKTD, Martin Riley, SCO Engineering, Viridian, and Hoch & Associates – continue to work under challenging conditions. We remain focused on the things we can control – and that includes engaging our many local partners and working diligently toward the start of construction as soon as possible.

Now more than ever, northeast Indiana needs the economic impact and opportunity of Electric Works, as one of the largest public-private partnerships in the State of Indiana. As soon as construction begins, Electric Works will be investing more than $200 million over the next 24 months. In addition, the construction process at Electric Works will help create and support approximately 2,000 jobs – meaning this project will play a pivotal and critical role in helping our economy recover and regain its momentum. Overall, Electric Works is expected to generate nearly $300 million in economic impact during construction – and almost $400 million in annual economic impact when the campus opens in 2022.

With our economy paused indefinitely, Electric Works’ long-term impact on our regional economy will be about more than jobs and investment. The innovation and entrepreneurship taking place at Electric Works will fuel northeast Indiana’s rise, recovery and renewal from this stall. Our research and educational partners – Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Indiana University Ventures, Fort Wayne Metals, Medical Informatics Engineering, and Parkview Health – will utilize Electric Works to accelerate northeast Indiana as a hub of innovation, job creation and economic momentum.

We’ll get through this. While the health and safety of the community remains our top priority, we remain with our public and private partners fully committed to satisfying the conditions of the EDA, delivering the community’s vision for Electric Works, and starting construction on this project as quickly as possible to help our economy recover, regain momentum and raise economic fortune and opportunity for all of northeast Indiana.

Do it Best Corp., a global leader in the independent home improvement industry, has signed a letter of intent to locate its corporate headquarters at Electric Works in Fort Wayne.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and other local regional and state leaders joined Do it Best Corp. CEO Dan Starr and representatives of RTM Ventures, the development team behind Electric Works, in making the announcement today. The letter of intent calls for Do it Best Corp. to occupy almost 200,000 square feet of space on multiple floors in Building 26 on the project’s West Campus, with the ability to add up to 20,000 square feet more if needed for expansion.

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“Electric Works is a neighborhood improvement project with regional impact. It is what we need in every quadrant of Fort Wayne.”

Fort Wayne City Council members Geoff Paddock, D-5th; Tom Didier, R-4th; Glynn Hines, D-at large; and Tom Freistroffer, R-at large published an editorial in the Jan. 12 edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in support of Electric Works.

“There’s a character to these buildings that cannot be replicated.”
 
National Geographic included Electric Works in a recent story on how Midwest communities are bringing former industrial sites back to life.
 
 

“Electric Works will contribute to the local community even before the first tenant opens, officials announced Tuesday.

RTM Ventures…has partnered with nonprofit Joshua’s Hand to create apprenticeship programs that will employ minorities during construction.”

Source: Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette