Mayor Graham Richard tonight announced that Wendy'€™s will build a new restaurant at Southtown Centre. Mayor Richard made the announcement during his Report to the People speech to the Southeast Area Partnership.

Southtown Centre continues to develop. Menards will open on March 21. The new Firestone business will open in early spring. Wal-Mart will open in late summer/early fall. STAR Financial Bank has committed to build a branch office at Southtown Centre. Ground will be broken in June for the Regional Public Safety Academy. The facility will open in November 2007.

“Hundreds of jobs are being created and millions of dollars are being invested at Southtown Centre,” said Mayor Richard. “Residents in southeast Fort Wayne deserve first-class retail options. This project benefits the entire community, and we look forward to more positive developments in the coming months.”

Mayor Richard also announced the creation of a $150,000 Southeast Retail Incentive (PRISE) Program to assist small businesses. The program includes “Go Southeast” and “Grow Southeast.” PRISE stands for Prime Retail Incentives in Southeast.

“Go Southeast” will help attract new retail to the area by providing rental assistance to owners of small retail strip malls as an incentive tool to offer to potential clients. “Grow Southeast” is a grant program that provides a 50% funding match up to $10,000 for façade improvements. The program can be used by owners and existing tenants of retail strip malls. Both programs are intended to enhance visual aesthetics, improve marketability and demonstrate that southeast Fort Wayne is a positive place to open or expand a business.

The proposed target areas include:

* Rudisill Center

* Anthony Wayne Village

* Mark'€™s City Market

* Kmart Plaza area

“This new program will enhance the viability and appearance of our smaller retail centers,” said Mayor Richard. “Marketability and public-private partnerships are key drivers toward positive revitalization efforts.”