NewAllen Alliance supports the development of communities in a way that is effective, responsible and strategic. This will be accomplished through the proactive management of growth in addition to advancing a community and economic development approach relevant for rural and suburban communities.
Strategy: Manage Growth and Development
Strong leadership and structure provides a foundation for successful development that is responsive to community desires. Although the New Allen communities have varying levels of leadership capacity, each has identified strategies by which to build and empower themselves to support and sustain community and economic development (C&ED) projects. From incorporation to developing community foundations and Main Street organizations to creating tax increment financing districts, communities may cultivate their abilities to affect change and accomplish identified goals through community engagement and the establishment of funding mechanisms.
As NewAllen Alliance communities also seek to improve regulations in order to influence the quality of new development, it is acceptable to place certain expectations on the community and neighborhood developers as projects occur. Zoning ordinances, which control the use of land and buildings, often focused on a separation of land uses. This approach is easier to implement, but can lack flexibility and now is considered to be somewhat outdated. Newer methods provide more latitude, concentrating less on the type of use of land and more on the form that land use may take. For example, elements such setbacks, density and accessibility are regulated in a manner to allow for more walkable, adaptable environments. Both Allen County and the City of Fort Wayne have updated their zoning ordinances in recent years to reflect more modern zoning practices. Incorporated NewAllen communities are also interested in updating their ordinances to influence quality development without creating an excessive burden onto property owners.
Strategy: Advance a Rural and Suburban Community and Economic Development Approach
The field of economic development, which used to focus primarily on the attraction and retention of industry, has evolved to include small business development, workforce development, and quality of life initiatives. The lines between community development and economic development have become blurred, and the responsibility for these activities throughout Allen County can be confusing. Cities, towns, community associations, local chambers of commerce, East Allen County Schools (EACS), the New Allen Alliance, Allen County Commissioners and Council, Allen County Department of Planning Services, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council and several other stakeholders and organizations each play valuable roles in advancing initiatives in Allen County's rural communities.
Although Allen County is an urban county and includes the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana's second largest city by population, a significant portion of the county is still rural. According to ESRI Community Analyst data provided by the IPFW Community Research Institute, the 2013 population represented by the coverage area of NewAllen Alliance is 56,491. This is 15.7% of the county's 2013 population of 360,269, and is larger than 65 of Indiana's 92 counties according to 2011 U.S. Census estimates. When adding in the population of the other Allen County rural areas that aren't within the NewAllen Alliance coverage area, the amount of rural and suburban residents and territory is significant enough to validate a dual, mutually beneficial urban and suburban/rural approach to C&ED throughout Allen County.
Traditionally, the approach to C&ED within the rural and suburban areas of Allen County has been reactive. Due to the size and dynamic nature of the City of Fort Wayne, a significant focus has been directed to this urban area. While this is understandable, it is also apparent to New Allen Alliance communities that a void exists in regard to the level of attention and assistance given to them. Rural and suburban areas need a more attentive, proactive approach that helps to cultivate the respective communities so they can more effectively reach their goals.
The NewAllen Alliance desires to work with Allen County C&ED agencies and organizations on the following:
Establishing a better local understanding of the economic development process, including lead generation, site selection, incentives, and engagement practices;
Developing shovel-ready sites;
Focusing county-wide attention on the agricultural industry;
Connecting to and accessing small business development training, incentives and capital;
Developing of local workforce skills in alignment with Northeast Indiana industry needs.