In the early 1990s, our Founding Chair Dr. Mike Mirro commissioned several task forces to examine community-based economic development strategies for Northeast Indiana and the Greater Ft. Wayne Area. After many years of examining what other successful communities across the U.S. were doing to diversify their economic base, leverage their local assets and retain their talented and creative class, two significant economic development recommendations were made. The first recommendation was the formation of the Ft. Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance to serve as the community’s front door for retention and expansion activities. The legal entity was formed in August 1999. The second recommendation was the formation of a business incubator to foster an entrepreneurial culture and spirit in the region. The legal entity of the non-profit organization was formed in December 1999 and was named the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC).
The initial founding members of the NIIC were: City of Ft. Wayne, Allen County, Greater Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce, and IPFW. In October 2000, the hard work and the dedication of the task force was realized by the recruitment and hiring of the first professional staff member of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center. From October 2000 to August 2001, the Innovation Center was housed in the Greater Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce until a temporary incubator was established and opened in August 2001 on Production Road in Ft. Wayne due to the generosity and leadership of Raytheon Corporation.
From August 2001 to September 2005, there were five space expansions to accommodate the growth, development, and maturation of the business incubation program. Due to the leadership of Senator Bob Meeks and the entire Northeast Indiana delegation, NIIC constructed the first of two facilities on its 55 acre certified technology park campus. The first facility, a 40,403 square feet business incubator opened in September 2005 and in November 2009, a second 33,000 square feet emerging growth center opened for second stage and graduate ventures.
Today, over 160 knowledge workers and over 45 companies call the Northeast Indiana Innovation Park their home and headquarters along the educational and high tech corridor of Northeast Indiana.