My second book is out: “Turning Rust to Gold: Fort Wayne’s Fight for Revival.” It’s different from my first book, “Magicians of Main Street: America and its Chambers of Commerce, 1768-1945,” especially because it involves living people and an ongoing struggle. The new book is also short, requiring just four or five hours to read.
You can find it here: www.rusttogold.org
A key character in the book is Electric Works, a 1.2 million-square-foot, empty, decaying hulk of brick that once was a thriving General Electric plant. The fight to redevelop it involves significant conflict that even plays into the current mayoral campaign in Fort Wayne, Ind. It’s in some ways a classic chamber vs. City Hall battle. The former head of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., Eric Doden, had the idea for this book and is interviewed, although I spoke in depth with 44 other people and also threw in some items from a few of the 25 Uber drivers with whom I talked. Doden owns the company that published the book, as I’ve made clear to my interviewees and to newspaper and TV journalists in Fort Wayne.
A development expert described the book as the first economic development study she had seen that had real people in it. It’s become a hot potato in Fort Wayne. I hope ultimately the book helps a great American city become even greater. And I hope it illuminates for all of us the opportunities and challenges of chamber-led change.