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Officials working to keep 1,000 BAE jobs in Fort Wayne

Hi-tech company talking about move to Ohio, sources say

Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 12:01 am

Local government and economic development officials have been quietly meeting with representatives of one of Fort Wayne's hi-tech industries for the past several months, hoping to keep the company – and about 1,000 mostly well-paying jobs – from leaving town.

Sources involved in the discussions tell The News-Sentinel that officials from BAE Systems, a global aerospace and defense contractor with a plant at 2000 Taylor St. in Fort Wayne, have floated the possibility of moving the local operation elsewhere, possibly to Van Wert or Paulding in Ohio. BAE's Fort Wayne facility, which makes aircraft controls and other products, is in a World War II-era former General Electric plant still owned by GE.

About 20 percent of the local plant's production is military-related, including circuit cards that comprise much of the electronic "brain" of the F-22 Raptor, the nation's -- and the world's -- most-advanced fighter plane. That connection brought the Air Force's F-22 demonstration team to Fort Wayne last year.

Local officials have responded by seeking ways to entice BAE to stay, combining resources into an offer that might be worth $20 million. That money could be used to improve the existing facility or build one, possibly on county-owned land near the new General Mills warehouse on Bluffton Road.

Officials say a decision could still be weeks away, however.

Company spokesman Jeff Benzing declined to comment.