Ft. Wayne Leaders Contemplate Trip To Midwest Community With Booming Economy

By Jeff Neumeyer

February 26, 2014 Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 6:18 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- A delegation from Fort Wayne plans to travel to Des Moines later this year, hoping to learn why the Iowa capital's economy has raced to the front of the pack here in the Midwest.

We took a road trip to Des Moines and this week aired a special report called, "Behind Des Moines' Secret".

It seems like a natural next step for leaders here in Fort Wayne.

A study generated in town last year, ranking 100 Midwestern cities in terms of best places for job growth and personal income growth, Fort Wayne finished in the middle, while Des Moines was at the top of the list.

Earlier this year, we traveled to the city that has pulled down some big awards, including being rated number one in 2013 by Forbes Magazine for best places to start a business or career.

It is big in insurance and financial services.

We talked to John Urbahns from Greater Fort Wayne Inc. about a strategy that Des Moines leaders say they used in the 1980's, putting together favorable tax policies to get a foothold with those industries.

“Tax policy is one piece of attracting companies and keeping companies, talented workforce is probably the bigger issue. Do we have the employees that can fill those jobs and fill them well? That's the biggest thing that companies are going to be looking for," Urbahns said.

The idea of visiting other cities like Des Moines is not something new.

When the group of business and community leaders takes off for Des Moines later this fall, it will be a fact-finding mission much like previous visits to places like Greenville South Carolina, Providence Rhode Island, and Denver Colorado.

Can we copy what Des Moines does, and do we even want to?

We'll know more in about 7 or 8 months.

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