‘Electric Works’ names its first managing director of innovation

Some City Council members say they are willing to consider millions of dollars in funding to convert the former General Electric campus into the "Electric Works." (Courtsy image)
Crystal Vann Wallstrom

Electric Works, the project to redevelop Fort Wayne’s former General Electric campus, has named Crystal Vann Wallstrom as its managing director of innovation to lead its innovation and entrepreneurial space.

Vann Wallstrom, who most recently served as the director of the Center for Creative Collaboration at Indiana Tech, will work to develop a strategy for the space and seek partnerships with a broad range of businesses and organizations on a state, regional and national level.

“From the first time I saw the GE campus on the summer of 2015, I saw what it could become — an activated, thriving cornerstone for the region,” she said in a statement. “After visiting the American Tobacco Campus in Durham (N.C.) . . . the vision became even clearer . . . Our vision is for innovation and entrepreneurship to permeate everything here as a driver of economic growth for the region. We want to attract new talent, inspire and develop existing talent and create innovations and new businesses that drive our economic forward.”

The first of two phases will focus on buildings west of Broadway and is expected to cost $213 million, producing 224,000 square feet of office space, 113,000 square feet of institutional/education space, 83,000 square feet for retail/restaurants and a food hall, 83,000 square feet of dedicated innovation space/facilities, 82,000 square feet of residential space and 31,000 square feet of amenity/recreational space. A second, later phase would focus on the campus east of Broadway.

Vann Walstrom came to northeast Indiana in 2015 and is founder of Rabbit Hole ventures and co-founder of the Northeast Indiana Regional Entrepreneurship Coalition. She has also served as an executive board member of Start Fort Wayne, a non-profit organization working to promote entrepreneurship in the region, and is a founding board member of Own Your Success, which helps women in the area create and grow businesses. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University and a master’s in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco, where for 15 years she worked at creative agencies and started a nonprofit organization.

Josh Parker of the Baltimore development firm Cross Street Partners said in a statement Vann Walstrom “has repeatedly shown that she is a champion of collaboration and dedicated to the growth of Northeast Indiana. Her unique combination of expertise, experience and enthusiasm is essential and spot-on for leading this initiative.”

The Allen County Commissioners and the Capital Improvement Board have pledged a total of $3 million in loans to begin environmental clean up and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has approved a $50 million tax credit. Additional private capital is being sought, along with an undetermined amount from the city’s Legacy fund and, possibly, additional contributions from the CIB, which controls food and beverage tax revenues.

Indiana Tech announced recently its intention to occupy 10,000 square feet, but no lease has been signed.

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