Lincoln Village Community Association


Posted in: Statewood Park
Why is it that so many young people leave Ft. Wayne after high school and never move back?
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  • nieghbor
  • Respected Neighbor
  • Fort Wayne, IN
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 Known as "Summit City," Fort Wayne straddles the continental divide between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico watershed. Located on the first coast-to-coast highway, Fort Wayne is also popularly known as the "Gateway to the West."

 According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average income of a Fort Wayne resident is $20,214, which is 71% of the national average. Since 1969, the average income in Fort Wayne, IN has fallen by 16%.

In the 1980s many industries closed, leaving Fort Wayne vulnerable to rust-belt decline. However, many developments have kept the city's economy some what healthy. Fort Wayne employs many people in the transportation sector through the Norfolk Southern Railway and its subsidiaries Triple Crown Services, TransWorks, and Kitty Hawk Air Cargo. But I think Kitty Hawk went out of business last summer. National defense also provides many employment opportunities, through ITT and Raytheon. Most young people don't want to work in what they often consider dead end factory jobs. Indiana has been losing "good manufacturing jobs" for 30 or more years.

There is just this very settled, insular sensibility about Ft Wayne.  From year to year nothing much changes. A few more chain restaurants come into town, a couple leave. Noise is made about redevelopment, but nothing much happens (until this past year when a development centered on a new baseball stadium for the town's AA team was constructed downtown - Harrison Square.) During the summer there are festivals in Headwaters Park, close to downtown, almost every week, but even they bear a certain "same boaring thing" feel. I've been to GermanFest every year for seven years, and every single year, the 6 or 7 vendors of Trinkets were arrayed in the exact same L-shaped arrangement on the west end of the grounds. Unchanging. Nothing new.

Young people like excitement. It is still a farming community and most 20 somethings are not into farming these days. They are not starting families right after high school and Ft Wayne is a "raising kids family" town.  They leave because they can. They might think they are leaving "just for a while" and plan to return when they decide to have kids and do the family thing.

But, when they do go, they find that almost any place in the world they end up is at least as good, and often better than this slow moving farming community.

Even the weather can be blamed. Weather in Northern Indiana is far from great. It can never be depended on, it changes from cold to humid to windy to snow to rain, and that can all happen in the same day.  Most places have weather that is more conducive to outdoor fun and exercise.

Most young people leave to find something to do besides go to church. They need stimulas of interest to their age group, a job, new people, anything other than the same old thing. When they do go they almost always find any place they end up has more potitial for a interesting and prosperous life than Ft. Wayne.

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