Greater Fort Wayne Names CEO

Greater Fort Wayne Names CEO

The Greater Fort Wayne Inc. board of directors has selected John Urbahns to become the organization’s next chief executive officer. Urbahns will assume his new role Jan. 1, 2019.

“I’m honored to accept this position because I care deeply about this community,” Urbahns said. “Allen County has come a long way from an economic standpoint, but we can’t get complacent. Our job as an organization is to grow jobs, wages, and the economy, and as CEO, I plan to work harder than ever to accomplish those goals.”

A lifelong Hoosier, Urbahns has served as GFW Inc.’s executive vice president of economic development for the last five years, leading all efforts related to business expansion and attraction, entrepreneurship and innovation, downtown development, and more. He previously worked for the City of Fort Wayne for 18 years, including nearly seven years as the city’s director of community development.

Urbahns holds a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental design, both from Ball State University. He also holds an accreditation from the American Institute of Certified Planners and serves on numerous community boards.

As GFW Inc.’s CEO, Urbahns will lead a staff of 20 and serve more than 1,200 investor companies to retain, expand, and attract jobs to the area.

“John has earned the full faith and confidence of the board and staff,” said Andrew Thomas, GFW Inc. board chair. “He has a proven track record of success in this community, and his skills and experience make him the best leader for this organization going forward. I’m excited to work with John as our CEO.”

Since 2014, Urbahns has led an economic development department that has assisted with 132 business expansions and relocations in Allen County, including expansions by General Motors ($1.2 billion investment), Sweetwater ($76 million investment) and Fort Wayne Metals ($51 million investment), and locations by Walmart ($181 million dairy processing facility) and Multimatic ($39 million investment). These 132 deals resulted in a total of more than 7,800 new jobs and about $335 million in new annual payroll.

“I can’t think of a better person to lead Greater Fort Wayne Inc. into the future,” said Chuck Surack, founder and owner of Sweetwater. “John’s experience in this region is invaluable, and his focus on partnerships between local and state leaders and other community members will ensure continued success when it comes to economic development.”

“There’s a lot of momentum here,” Urbahns said. “We have a fantastic staff, great partners, tremendous investors, and an incredible community. I’m looking forward to working together as we continue building a nationally recognized economy here in Allen County.”

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