I’ve used the word “Renaissance” to describe what I see happening in the Fort Wayne entrepreneur community right now. We are moving out of a slump, the equivalent of the entrepreneurial Dark Ages.
In much earlier days the city was an entrepreneurial center. TV was invented here, for goodness sake. More recently we evolved into a manufacturing economy. A very successful one. Household income was high – above the national average. We became a suburban city. Families moved to the suburbs, followed by businesses. Many families had a home, a lake cottage, multiple cars, maybe a boat, etc. Fat and happy. Complacent.
And then manufacturing changed. Jobs left. Wages dropped – to significantly less than the national average. New entrepreneurial non-manufacturing business didn’t necessarily step in to fill the gap or create new businesses centers like in California, Boston, Austin, and Seattle (although there were certainly some highly successful entrepreneurs here creating companies during that time). The downtown area that had lost residents and businesses during the suburban flight now looked emptier (or maybe we just noticed it more because we weren’t all at the lake).
We started to hear more and more talk about our youth leaving for opportunities elsewhere. It was a slump, just as much a slump as the batter who can’t get a hit to save his life.
The slump is over.
It is starting with our young entrepreneurs. Watch Brandon Smits’ documentary “Startup City”. And keep in mind Nyzzy’s words –
“Just a group of kids trying to get it on,
but we’re gonna be the ones to put the city on” – Nyzzy Nyce
In coming posts, I’ll go into more detail about all of this:
- the nonprofits – like WunderKammer, A Better Fort, Twelve Cities, and Believe in a Dream.
- the videographers – like Kelly Lynch and Brandon Smits.
- the techies – like Dave Corcoran, Ryan Imel, Graham Bredemeyer, Scott BonAmi, Ray Angel, Justin Sharpe, and the Mobile Developers Club.
- the fashion entrepreneurs – like Olivia Fabian and Jamal Robinson.
- the people who do amazing selfless things – like Andrea and Micah Rapp and Andrew Hoffman.
- the artists – like the Huntington University Digital Media Arts people, Paradigm Magazine, the Comic-Con people, and everyone who exhibits at Conspiracy, Firefly, and 816 Pint and Slice.
- the catalysts – like the Innovation Center, its Student Venture Lab, Founders,
Vertical Leap,and the Millennial 2020 program.
- the business clusters – like Wayne and Calhoun, Wells Street, SoCal, Broadway, and Wells Street.
And many more people, places, and things. Stay tuned!