NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Do it Best a great fit for Electric Works project

Do it Best Corp. is a superb addition to the roster of Electric Works tenants signed by RTM Ventures in its plans to renovate the massive former GE campus.

RTM officially introduced the international hardware wholesaler Thursday at the site where Do It Best plans to move into about 200,000 square feet.

The deal is a win for everyone involved. Do It Best gets a much-needed new home supported by up to $1.6 million in conditional tax credits and $200,000 in training grants from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, RTM gets its long sought-after anchor tenant, and Allen County holds onto one of its top employers.

“Do It Best’s expansion in Allen County will create more quality careers for Hoosiers,” said Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was on hand for the announcement. “We’re excited for Do It Best’s continued growth in northeast Indiana.”

Founded in Fort Wayne in 1945, Do it Best Corp. is a member-owned hardware, lumber and building materials cooperative, the second-largest co-op in the industry with sales of $3.5 billion in fiscal year 2019. There are thousands of member-owned locations throughout the U.S. and more than 50 other countries.

Do It Best has 440 employees locally and the move to Electric Works will add up to 90 more, said Do It Best President and CEO Dan Starr.

“This will be a different way to work. We want to get the right people working near each other and establish us as the employer of choice,” Starr said.

Starr said Do It Best has outgrown its headquarters on Nelson Road, and that the company has been considering relocation for some time. He called Electric Works “the perfect fit.” Relocation is expected to take about two years.

With Do it Best joining the team of businesses and organizations planning to locate at the long-dormant Broadway property, RTM’s project has reached a new level of credibility and excitement. Other Electric Works tenants include Parkview Health, Indiana University Research and Technology Corp., Fort Wayne Metals, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Sport Wayne Inc., Spherion, Joseph Decuis, Ecsia and Conjure Coffee.

Josh Parker of RTM has said the addition of the anchor tenant is a “game changer” for the project and brings the total space covered to 415,068 square feet.

The original announcement of the letter of intent from the then-anonymous company was made in order to ask for an extension of the deadline between RTM and the City of Fort Wayne that had required certain financial and leasing commitments to be met by Feb. 1. Now, in the third extension of the deal, the deadline for leasing, funding and construction documents would be pushed back to April 30, and to June 30 for closing.

Following approval of the extension request by Mayor Henry, the developers still needed to go through three more approvals for the extension. First was the 3-2 vote in favor of the extension Monday by the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission. Then came unanimous approval Wednesday by the Capital Improvement Board. The final step in approving the deadline extension is a vote today by Allen County Board of Commissioners.

Thursday’s announcement is a huge positive for Fort Wayne and Allen County, and especially for RTM Ventures and the ambitious Electric Works project.

Mayor Tom Henry said the $250 million project is the largest public-private enterprise in city history and rightly noted success in such things “doesn’t come easily. But when something this valuable comes along, it’s worth fighting for.”

Indeed. Kudos to everyone involved in putting this deal together. Fort Wayne will be better because of it.


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