Richard R. Waterfield knows something about attracting people to northeast Indiana.
The chairman and CEO of Waterfield Enterprises was born and raised here, but left for college in New York City and a career start at Goldman Sachs before moving to Southern California.
When he decided to return after more than 20 years, he first had to convince wife Stefanie to move here. Now, he's making the sales pitch to other CEOs as a board member for northern Indiana's Young Presidents' Organization.
The region doesn't lack for opportunities top industry leaders seek, according to Waterfield. This past week, YPO was host to a small gathering at the Joseph Decuis farm near Roanoke featuring Robert O'Neill, captain of the Navy Seal team responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. The organization has similar events that serve as networking opportunities and social events for families, including international trips.
Electric Works, the $280 million development proposed for the former General Electric campus in Fort Wayne, is the sort of opportunity the organization supports.
“Our group is solidly behind Electric Works and we want people to know it,” Waterfield said this week. “We're just pulling really hard to grow northern Indiana in an intelligent way. ... YPO tends to cater more to a tech-savvy, young entrepreneur that's starting things that have some kind of tangential relationship to (technology).”
He said the YPO's northern Indiana board agreed to send a letter encouraging Mayor Tom Henry to “get Electric Works up and running.”
“In a world of multitudinous choice, Electric Works is exactly the kind of project that attracts world-class CEOs, their businesses and their families to regions like northern Indiana,” Waterfield said.
“I think it is emblematic of what I love about Fort Wayne and northern Indiana, and it is the kind of thing that attracts CEOs to the area,” he said. “That's the kind of thing that creates jobs and a beautiful place to live. It's a home run.”