Make your home page

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Washington D.C.-based Carr Workplaces announced Thursday it has taken over as property manager for the Electric Works mixed-use innovation district in Fort Wayne. The company, which operates coworking spaces throughout the country, says it will oversee the entire 10-building campus at the former General Electric site near the city’s downtown.

Carr Workplaces has named Traci Oberholtzer property manager, as well as Alex Arnold as chief engineer and Megan Brown as assistant property manager.

The company says the team, which will ultimately be comprised of eight people, will be responsible for a variety of services, including mechanical systems maintenance, capital improvements, and tenant lease administration and relations.

“At its peak in the late 1940s, the former General Electric campus employed 10,000 people, and it is our shared goal with the Electric Works team to revive and carry on a dynamic legacy of innovation and positive economic impact throughout the city,” Carr Workplaces COO Ashley Buckner said in a news release. “We are thrilled to have Traci, Megan and Alex, all of whom live in the Fort Wayne area, lead the Property Management team and know that with their dedication to hospitality and professionalism, the Electric Works campus will fuel a new era of job creation, culture and community.” 

In December 2020, Carr Workplaces said it would establish a 32,000-square-foot coworking space inside Building 19 on the campus. The space will feature more than 90 private offices, numerous drop-in workspaces and meeting rooms, and a 10,000-square-foot conference center.

The $286 million first phase of Electric Works, which includes more than 700,000 square feet of space, is slated to open this fall.

In addition to Electric Works, Carr Workplaces manages coworking spaces in Indianapolis, West Lafayette, Boston, Chicago, and New York, among other major cities.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Fort Wayne-based Steel Dynamics Inc. (Nasdaq: STLD) plans to invest $2.2 billion to build a recycled aluminum flat rolled mill, as well as two supporting satellite recycled aluminum slab centers, the company announced Tuesday. The steelmaker says when fully operational, the mill will have the capacity to produce 650,000 tons of finished products annually.

“Aluminum sheet actually has been on our radar for many years,” said CEO Mark Millett. “And the significant and growing North American supply deficit in aluminum flat roll makes this an ideal time to penetrate the market.”

During a conference call with investors Tuesday morning, Millett said he believes the project is a low-risk opportunity for the company.

“I think it should be considered as an adjacent business to our highly-successful steel operations with considerable overlap in process and operation know-how, commercial approach and raw material supply,” said Millett.

The flat rolled mill will be established in the southeastern part of the country, though a specific location has not yet been identified. The products made at the facility will serve the sustainable beverage packaging, automotive, and common alloy industrial sectors.

SDI says the mill will utilize a significant amount of aluminum scrap. OmniSource, the company’s metals recycling platform, is expected to supply 100% of the scrap aluminum needed for the new operations.

The facility is expected to be able to supply about 50% of its recycled aluminum slab requirements onsite, with the remainder coming from the two satellite recycled aluminum slab centers.

One of the satellite centers will be built in the southwestern part of the U.S., while the other will be built in north central Mexico. Like the flat rolled mill, specific locations for the centers have not been identified.

The company did not specify how many jobs would be created as a result of the project.

SDI says the flat rolled aluminum industry in North American has a growing supply deficit estimated at more than 2 million tons, with much of the demand coming from the automotive and sustainable beverage can industries.

“Automotive seems to be constrained by a lack of secured supply for its EV development,” said Millett. “The beverage can industry itself has been undergoing significant expansion and requires feedstock. It’s amazing to me that that industry today actually imports cans. You only get two tons of cans in a container today, and obviously that’s unsustainable. There’s a massive need for can stock, and we will help supply that.”

The flat rolled mill is expected to cost $1.9 billion, while the two satellite slab centers will cost about $350 million. SDI says it will fund the project through available cash and cash flow from operations.

When complete, the company will own more than 94% of the rolling mill facility through a joint venture with Unity Aluminum Inc. SDI will own 100% of the satellite facilities.

Operations at the Mexico slab center are expected to begin in 2024. The rolling mill facility is slated to begin operations in the first quarter of 2025, while the U.S. slab center will begin by the end of 2025.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership has unveiled a three-year strategic plan it says outlines how the 11-county region will “continue to build an economically resilient region by increasing the region’s competitiveness to attract new investment.” The partnership says the development of the plan found that the region must pivot to compete for higher value-added economic activities instead of solely focusing on cost or incentives.

Partnership President and CEO Stephane Frijia tells Inside INdiana Business while the region will welcome businesses of all types, they are focusing on more high-value targets.

“When you look at those high-technology, high-wage paying type of operators, typically it’s a higher-level function; they require a higher level of skill. Obviously, there’s automation. There’s higher cap-ex,” said Frijia. “So, how we position ourselves to go after those types of operations that typically pay better wages, offer better benefits…that really becomes the driving force.”

The strategic plan outlines three key economic growth strategies:

“Creating an economically resilient community doesn’t happen overnight and businesses are invested in the growth of the region’s economy,” Don Cates, CEO of 3 Rivers Federal Credit Union and chair of the Regional Opportunities Council, which serves as the partnership’s investor board of business leaders, said in written remarks. “This 3-year roadmap will enhance Northeast Indiana’s ability to compete for businesses and talent in the global economy and build the economic resilience our region and its businesses needs.”

The partnership says it has set key milestones to measure the region’s progress over the next three years. They include support for 190 new expansion and relocation projects, 20 new expansion and relocation projects won, and 3,000 net new jobs.

Frijia, who began his role in September, says the metrics and goals will also serve as a learning experience for the partnership to help fuel future growth.

“We don’t expect to win every single project,” he said. “But using the information from the other projects that perhaps went to other places in the Midwest or elsewhere, what information we can glean from the demand side of the equation. That can then allow us to further advance conversations about what type of products we’re building, what type of inventory we should have, what type of demands new employers that are making investments are looking at.”

He says that information will better prepare the region to have the resources in place to attract new businesses.

The partnership says the new strategic plan is a rolling plan, meaning they will review and adjust any goals or requirements as needed at the end of each year.

You can view the full strategic plan by clicking here.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Two Indiana-based businesses are among more than 330 from throughout the country chosen to sell their products on Walmart store shelves. Turf Titan Brands in Fort Wayne and BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery in Noblesville each received a “golden ticket” after pitching their products last week during Walmart’s ninth annual Open Call event. This year’s Open Call had more than 13,000 products registered with 1,110 businesses chosen as finalists to make pitches.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Turf Titan Brands President Andrew Saal said being chosen will help brand recognition for the young company.

“From a brand standpoint, I mean we’re so new; people just don’t even know who we are,” said Saal. “So, when you’re on a Walmart shelf – and we’re not sure how many stores we’re going to be in yet – that’s some pretty solid brand exposure for us.”

Turf Titan Brands was created from Biodyne USA and its premier distributor, BW Fusion, both of which are also based in Fort Wayne.

The company produces a line of lawn care products. Saal says the idea for Turf Titan came from the use of microbials, or beneficial bacterial, to clean up brownfields and other sites that need bioremediation.

Since its inception, Turf Titan has relied heavily on influencer marketing to get the word out about its products. Saal says the company’s pitch during the Open Call checked a lot of boxes for Walmart.

“They want to know that your products are made in the U.S., and with us, pretty much every component that we use in our products is made in the U.S.,” he said. “The other thing is they’re very big on sustainability, and a lot of our microbials actually help the soil, and if your isn’t doing good, it kind of brings life back to your soil. So, they liked that as well.”

He says the efforts by Turf Titan, BW Fusion and Biodyne to support local farmers also appealed to Walmart.

Saal says the company only pitched its Thatch Buster product, which is designed to convert organic waste into a food source that returns nutrients to the soil and grass. But now, the retail giant is looking at more.

“We presented that and mentioned a couple other products as we were going through that, and I think that tweaked their interest,” he said. “So, on Tuesday, they sent us an email and said, ‘Hey, we would like you to quote your entire line.’ So, right now, [we’re] getting all of that prepared so we can hopefully pick up more products in the full line.”

BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery was founded in 2010 by Jennifer Wiese, who was looking for gluten-free and dairy-free treats for her autistic son. The company’s products, including the Warrior Mix that was selected by Walmart in the Open Call, is currently sold in more than 2,000 stores throughout the county, including Kroger, Target and Whole Foods locations.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick last July, Wiese attributed the company’s growth to individuals paying more attention to their diet.

“COVID was really a big instigator in that as well, too,” she said. “People were looking at how they were treating their body, what can they do to treat their body better with better foods they can eat, as well as how they’re caring for other people in their families.”

BeeFree is also focused on creating jobs in Noblesville for people on the autism spectrum.

(Pictured above, left to right) Morgan Gramlich, associate merchant for lawn and garden at Walmart; Josh Pawlak, vice president of marketing for BW Fusion; Andrew Saal, president of Turf Titan Brands; and Chelsea Vargas, senior merchant for lawn and garden at Walmart

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Fort Wayne is continuing the redevelopment of its riverfront as city leaders on Tuesday unveiled phase two of the project. The project includes extending the public space from Promenade Park, which opened in 2019, along the St. Mary’s River.

The space features an extension of the elevated Tree Canopy Trail, boat docks for private watercraft, and walking trails.

“It’s critical to have excellent quality of life amenities in our community, and I continue to be encouraged by the public’s interest and support in making our riverfront a world-class point of destination,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “We’re succeeding and the next steps in this process are promising and will provide unique opportunities for more public and private projects that will be beneficial for many years to come.”

Fort Wayne says the project will be financed with a $32 million lease rental revenue bond that will be repaid using revenue from the local economic income tax.

The bond approval must still go before the Redevelopment Authority, the Redevelopment Commission and City Council for consideration.

The city says it wants to continue to create public and gathering space for residents and visitors.
Construction is expected to begin before the end of this year and be completed by the end of 2024.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Fort Wayne City Council has approved an agreement to purchase a 6.4-acre parcel of riverfront property from P-Americas LLC, a subsidiary of PepsiCo Inc. (Nasdaq: PEP), for downtown redevelopment. The city will spend $4.5 million to acquire the property with the hope to attract private investment for the land.

A Pepsi warehouse currently sits on the property, but the beverage and snack maker intends to invest $19 million to build a new facility near Fort Wayne International Airport.

In addition to approving the land purchase, the council also approved a tax incentive on the new distribution center property to help with the relocation.

“Pepsi recognized the opportunity to be a good corporate citizen and maintain our strong presence in Fort Wayne as we have for the past 80 years. We are excited to be able to facilitate the ongoing redevelopment of the riverfront, while retaining all of our existing employees and reinvesting in the community,” said Sean Bishop, vice president of sales for PepsiCo Beverages North America North Division.

Construction of the new Pepsi facility is expected to begin summer 2022 and be completed mid-2023.

The city says the source of funding for the property acquisition will be the Riverfront local income tax rate, which required city council approval.

“The Harrison Street property is among the most strategically-located and valuable sites in the community,” said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “The site is large enough to accommodate multiple projects, which will bring more people, businesses, and vibrancy to the north side of the river.”

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is providing more insight into a United Kingdom-based e-waste recycling company’s planned $340 million investment in Fort Wayne. Exurban USA says it will establish its first U.S. operation in the Allen County city and create up to 200 jobs by the end of 2026. The facility is expected to extract valuable metals such as copper, gold and silver from discarded electronics, including mobile phones, computers and televisions.

Plans for the project were first announced last month when the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approved a purchase agreement for Exurban to acquire nearly 80 acres of land in the Adams Township Industrial Park for the plant.

Exurban co-founder Jean Paul Deco says the facility will be the world’s first zero-waste smelter refinery. The company says the plant will allow it to stop shipping e-waste to other countries or burying it in landfills.

“Our investment in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a major milestone for Exurban and makes an important contribution to meeting the environmental challenge of e-waste,” Stefan Boel, chairman of Exurban, said in written remarks. “This is just the start of a journey. Working with key supply partnerships from leading recycling companies, we share the vision to expand around the world in this fast-growing market.”

Exurban plans to begin construction on the facility in 2023 and take about two years to complete.

Governor Eric Holcomb and Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers met with Exurban executives last month in the U.K.

“When Sec. Chambers and I met with Exurban’s leadership, we were impressed with their global expertise in metals and knew a close partnership would allow us to help shape a sustainable world together,” Holcomb said.

The IEDC has offered Exurban up to $2.7 million in conditional tax credits and training grants, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired and trained for the new jobs.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A New Jersey-based food producer has announced plans to invest $100 million to build a facility in Fort Wayne and create 100 jobs over the next two years. Do Good Foods takes unused foods such as produce from grocery stores and converts it into animal feed, which is then fed to chickens.

The company says the closed-loop operation will minimize the carbon footprint by diverting about 60,000 tons of food waste from 450 supermarkets annually.

“Do Good Foods takes Indiana’s advancements in sustainable food production to the next level and propels the state’s progress in clean energy,” said Governor Eric Holcomb. “Taking food waste, the number one material in America’s landfills, and upcycling it to feed our livestock is the type of ingenuity we encourage and cultivate in Indiana.”

The company says its first product, Do Good Chicken, is available in grocery stores in northeast Indiana and will be available nationwide. Do Good says each chicken saves about four pounds of surplus groceries from entering into landfills.

“We’re excited about the expansion of DGF into the Fort Wayne market,” said Matt Kamine, co-chief executive officer of Do Good Foods. “This project is a great opportunity for DGF to work with the local community on bringing more sustainable solutions to Fort Wayne and the retailers and food service providers located there.”

Do Good Foods says the facility will be built near the Fort Wayne International Airport and be operational by 2025. Before operations commence at the plant, the company will be hiring production, processing and management staff.

Based on job creation plans, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has committed up to $1.2 million in incentive-based tax credits, and $100,000 in training grants.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The founder of Fort Wayne-based Sweetwater continues to expand his business interests in aviation. Chuck Surack has acquired The Enstrom Helicopter Corp. of Menominee, Michigan, a helicopter manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy in January.

Surack is widely known for the online music instrument and audio equipment business he created. But his company, Surack Enterprises, expands well beyond that. It includes Sweet Aviation, Sweet Helicopters, and numerous other ventures.

The Enstrom helicopter business launched in 1959 as a designer and manufacturer of small, light helicopters used for commercial, government and personal use. But the company filed for bankruptcy in early 2022, blaming “several financial difficulties.”

In March, Texas-based MidTex Aviation announced plans to buy the assets of Enstrom with plans to reopen the factory in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But according to Enstrom, the Texas company ran into money troubles.

“Earlier this year it looked as if MidTex Aviation would step in and buy Enstrom, but when they had unexpected problems securing the funding, Chuck was able to step in and save the company, which ended a lot of sleepless nights here for us in Michigan,” said Matt Francour, president and chief executive officer of Enstrom.

Surack Enterprises says Surack purchased a helicopter from Enstrom after he earned his pilot’s license to fly helicopters in 2008.

“I am excited to have purchased this outstanding company that manufactures helicopters here in the United States and employs workers right here in the Midwest,” said Surack.

According to Surack, The Enstrom Helicopter Corp. joins the Surack Enterprises portfolio of aviation-related businesses which provides charter flights, training, and rental for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, and aviation specialty insurance.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Connecticut-based Frontier Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: FYBR) says it is closing a portion of its Fort Wayne operations. The telecommunications company has notified the state the move at the westside facility will affect 50 employees.

The company says it expects the employees will be phased out between June 30 and July 14. Frontier says it is working with those workers to apply for other roles within the company.

Frontier says the IBEW represents employees at this facility and the separation benefits will be determined by the collective bargaining agreements.

The cable and internet provider operates in 25 states.