January 12, 2021 12:49pm
From the Desk of the CEO: 1/13/21
I am excited to start the new year off with a new way to share important updates with the greater Louisville business community. My “From the Desk of the CEO” blog will feature important community, economic, and GLI-related updates throughout the year.
2020 was certainly a year for the books. Like you, GLI pivoted on our original plans for 2020. However, despite the obstacles we faced, we were able to adapt to the changing needs of the greater Louisville business community and set up our region up for long-term success in the future. You have likely heard me say that GLI is the voice of the business community and maybe you wondered what that entails. As we look forward to a fresh start, I want to share all the GLI accomplished last year. Join me in looking back at our 10 biggest accomplishments of 2020:
- SUPPORTING BUSINESSES IN CRISIS
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a great deal of uncertainty and information was hard to find. We identified the need for a one-stop-shop website with resources that helped businesses follow public health guidance, secure PPE, and obtain government assistance. With the help of our partners, Hatfield Media, the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA), Louisville Forward, and the University of Louisville College of Business – the Crisis Support Hub was born. The site is still updated regularly with the latest information and resources.
- ASSISTING DISPLACED WORKERS & CONNECTING JOB SEEKERS
In partnership with KentuckianaWorks GLI launched the Displaced Workers Initiative aimed at connecting employees laid off due to the pandemic with employers hiring for immediate openings. This program resulted in the connection of 53 separate companies with potential candidates. In addition, the Job Seeker Connection program extended this work by allowing workers to share their skillsets and desired industries, to make connections with potential employers.
- LAUNCHING A FORWARD-SEEKING PLAN
While much of our work this year focused on supporting businesses through the challenges of the pandemic, we could not lose sight of our primary goal of continuing to grow the economy. The creation of our NOW Louisville five-year strategic plan highlights GLI’s commitment to creating a forward-thinking, inclusive, and innovative regional economy. The plan is focused on six pillars: innovation, startups, clusters, talent, inclusion, and connectivity and mobility, with action-oriented steps and benchmarks for the next five years.
- ENGAGING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY TO ELIMINATE SYSTEMIC RACISM
Following the tragic death of Breonna Taylor and demands for racial justice throughout the country, GLI took quick action to activate the business community in pursuit of eradicating system racism in our community. The Business Council to End Racism continues to bring together business leaders to discuss barriers and inequities that people in Louisville face and create realistic and actionable steps towards creating a more equitable region. Through conversations, tangible actions have been identified and created including a Minority Business Accelerator and Racial Equity Challenge, which will be formally launched in 2021.
- CREATING EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CAREER GROWTH
Workforce development remained a key priority for GLI in 2020 with a focus on the development of a new pilot program that will launch in early 2021. The Career Acceleration Network will bring together higher education, training providers, and employers from different industries with the overarching goal of giving employees pathways from low-skilled and low wage jobs to skilled, family-supporting jobs. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to create equitable access to pathways for career advancement.
- HELPING DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES REBUILD
To help downtown businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, GLI launched a digital campaign aimed at helping investors get the word out about their businesses and services. By working directly with our investors to highlight their companies on GLI’s social media and digital platforms, we were able to help several local companies with no-cost promotion. We also assisted in the #DowntownPickMeUp campaign, promoting downtown businesses that experienced significant declines due to the pandemic. GLI continues to work in partnership with Louisville Forward, Louisville Tourism, and the Louisville Downtown Partnership to expand this campaign to encourage residents to come downtown and support our local businesses.
- TAKING THE LEAD TO TAKE THE BOARDS DOWN
In a letter to investors and later in an opinion-editorial in October, I called on businesses to take down the boards that were initially put in place during protests this summer. The call to action was simple but poignant, asking “downtown businesses and building owners to work toward removing the boards that act as a symbol of divisiveness so we can move forward collectively to heal the wounds felt by our community.” The impact was immediate as many businesses answered the call and took an important step toward restoring a sense of safety in Downtown Louisville. The boards that were once a symbol of divisiveness were then repurposed as a community project with over 20 artists commissioned to create unique artwork.
- CONTINUING TO ATTRACT TOP TALENT
Talent attraction in a pandemic is certainly a challenge. Live in Lou, GLI’s talent attraction, retention, and development initiative, took this time to rebuild and retool our website, LiveinLou.com. Employers can now post open jobs for free and utilize an employer toolkit. Residents or potential residents can connect with City Champs, who are volunteer ambassadors to get connected to the greater Louisville community.
- ADVOCATING FOR BUSINESS PROTECTION & AID
This year our advocacy team set out with numerous forward-thinking priorities top-of-mind at the federal, state, and local levels of government. While important strides were made, attention quickly turned to protecting businesses and employees from the economic fallout of the pandemic. Over the last nine months, GLI has continued to call on Congress, Kentucky and Indiana state governments, and local elected officials to take proactive measures to support businesses through this pandemic. Whether through supporting federal relief or state legal liability protection, our policy team reiterates the importance of protecting businesses that have sacrificed their livelihoods to protect the health of the community.
- WORKING WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENTS DURING TIMES OF CHANGE
During an extraordinarily hard year, GLI excelled in our role as a convener by utilizing our network to connect business leaders with decision-makers and elected officials. This took many forms, including letters, roundtables and one-on-one meetings between our investors and local leaders. Whether it was sharing concerns over economic restrictions, seeking guidance on public health recommendations, or offering solutions for rebuilding downtown, we worked diligently to be the voice of the business community to local leaders.