Incentives Offered To Keep Major Employer In Fort Wayne

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 19, 2013 Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Incentive money is being rolled out to entice a major Fort Wayne employer to stay in town, rather than re-locate jobs to someplace else.

It has to do with the future of a BAE Systems manufacturing plant.

It could have turned ugly for Fort Wayne.

Not only does BAE employ 1,100 people at a facility on Taylor Street, but also the British defense contractor has high skill, high paid people on the payroll.

The average wage in the operation is about $55,000 a year.

BAE Systems is working with a developer to build the company a new facility near Fort Wayne International Airport.

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission and local capital improvement board on Monday okayed an incentive package worth about $4.5-million.

The money will help the defense contractor buy equipment it needs in the operation that is re-locating from the plant on Taylor Street.

The nightmare scenario would have been losing the company to one of a number of other communities that was trying to land BAE.

" There's a lot of places where they could have gone, fortunately they love their workforce here. They are happy to stay here, and we're happy to provide them with the incentives that they need and deserve, in order to agree to stay here for ten years or more," said Greg Leatherman, the city’s Redevelopment Director.

If the company doesn't stick around for that period of time, there are "clawback" provisions in the incentive package.

That means the incentives aren't paid in full, if BAE doesn't deliver on its job promises.

The fact that it is negotiating a long-term lease on the new property by the airport is a good sign for Fort Wayne.

Sometimes taxpayers lose patience with government entities handing out money to companies talking about pulling out of town.

But competition is fierce for an employer like BAE, and Ashley Steenman with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says keeping a community vibrant these days can be as much about retaining good jobs as landing new ones.

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