The DID’s Decision To Join Unified Organization Is Complex

Downtown group iffy on joining joint entity 

This article was originally published March, 1st 2013

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

It’s looking as if major restructuring of local economic development efforts will involve two – rather than the original three – organizations.

Mayor Tom Henry last fall announced that Fort Wayne and Allen County officials planned to review and revamp the way various organizations work with employers.

The idea was to make the process easier to navigate so the county would be more competitive and could better compete for business investments and new jobs.

Leaders from the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance joined the announcement and spoke in support of the project.

So did leaders from the DID – also known as the Downtown Improvement District. But the non-profit’s participation in the merger is iffy.

DID’s board will need to vote on whether to join the new organization.


But considering members voted Jan. 22 to remove the “interim” designation from Bill Brown’s director title, it seems doubtful.

Zach Benedict, DID’s chairman, last week said the organization is a pseudo-governmental agency that was created by state statute and collects taxes from businesses operating in the designated area. That has legal implications.

“It’s a little harder to absorb into another organization,” he said.

Even so, the organization plans to support the new umbrella organization and its goals, said Benedict, a partner in local architecture firm Morrison Kattman Menze Inc.

“Whether or not we get absorbed by the new entity has more to do with logistics than intent,” he said.

Mike Packnett, president and CEO of Parkview Health, is overseeing the consolidation effort.

He’s untroubled by the potential loss as long as the DID has an envoy on the new organization’s “pretty large” diverse board to represent the downtown’s interests.

“From my standpoint, either way is fine,” he said.

The Chamber joined with the city and county to create the Alliance in 2000. The three founding groups have equally contributed to the Alliance’s budget each year since then.

City and county officials still need to review their existing economic development departments to decide whether they will be affected by the consolidation, Packnett said.

The merger’s broad strokes are on pace to be announced by the end of the month, meeting local officials’ self-imposed “aggressive” timetable.

Behind-the-scenes work is now focused on establishing legal and financial structures for the new nonprofit.

Original article here (The Journal Gazette)




Categories: DID Downtown Improvement District, Economic Development, Goverment, Leadership

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