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Last updated: Fri. Dec. 13, 2013 - 12:12 pm EDT

Business leaders pick priorities

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. agenda set

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FORT WAYNE — A group of Fort Wayne’s business leaders has agreed on lobbying priorities for next year.

Greater Fort Wayne Inc.’s board on Thursday released an updated version of its 2014 legislative agenda. The list will guide how the nonprofit’s staff allocates its time, said Katy Stafford-Cunningham, interim vice president of government affairs.

The organization’s four state legislative priorities are support for:

•New and existing economic development incentives such as tax phase-ins, tax increment financing and community revitalization enhancement districts.

•A single Allen County executive to replace three county commissioners, one of 27 major changes recommended in 2007 by the Kernan-Shepard commission to streamline government.

•Increased funding for the EARN Indiana program, which pays up to half of the salary for eligible interns who work for qualified employers.

•A more independent status for IPFW which grants both Indiana and Purdue university degrees but is under Purdue’s administrative oversight and fails to receive as much funding per student as some other state university campuses.

Greater Fort Wayne officials have 13 additional items on their full legislative agenda, which includes some issues specific to the city.

They include support for:

•Using some of the $75 million received from the lease and sale of the city’s old electric utility, or Legacy funds, “for bold, transformative projects that move our community forward.”

•Investing in more infrastructure investments to create shovel-ready sites that allow companies to start construction projects faster.

•Studying riverfront development and its potential to invigorate downtown Fort Wayne.

•Using CEDIT – or county economic development income tax – dollars solely for economic development and infrastructure projects.

•Streamlining the permitting process by putting the last of the departments online.

Greater Fort Wayne was created early this year by the merger of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance.

The organization bills itself as the “single point of contact for economic growth in Allen County.”

Stafford-Cunningham said the group spent months crafting its legislative priorities.

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