January 31, 2022 2:01pm
OP-ED 2022: a year of collaboration and growth in Greater Louisville
This op-ed originally appeared in the Lane Report on January 31, 2022
Greater Louisville’s economy ended 2021 with a bang. At the onset, recovery was a key economic priority, but by mid-year we showed we were not only open for business but also ready to build our economy stronger than ever before. Thanks to growing collaboration between the Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership, economic development agencies in all 15-counities, and both Indiana and Kentucky’s economic development cabinets, we far exceeded all expectations and projections. New and existing businesses in our region announced nearly $7 billion of new investments and the creation of more than 9,000 new jobs. This record number of investments sets a high bar for 2022, but GLI is prepared to work with our partners to maximize our impact and secure even more wins.
Where we are today
Currently, the Greater Louisville Regional Partnership has 35 projects in its pipeline which could result in 17,410 potential jobs for the region. The economic development strategy relies on both retention and expanding the footprint of businesses already in the region, while also bringing in investment from new companies. We saw the benefits of both strategies play out last year with businesses that already have a presence in our region doubling down on their commitment through large investments and job expansions – like Ford and GE Appliances. We also saw some new companies planting roots in Louisville – like Consumer Cellular.
In 2022, we will continue managing the partnerships and working with each of our county partners to help generate and hand-off leads for potential investments. We will also advocate for improvements to our current structure that will create a more seamless experience for prospective companies and site selectors.
A strategic focus for 2022
In the year ahead, GLI will focus on supporting and growing strategic industries that have the most potential to differentiate Greater Louisville’s competitive advantage from peer markets. These industries were identified as high growth potential industry clusters due to their existing industry presence, and our regional assets and competitive advantages in these specific fields.
Those industries are:
- Digital health
- Life sciences logistics
- Electric vehicle supply chain
- Biomedical manufacturing
To support each of these specific industries, GLI will identify areas of overlap between each of its three industry networks: Health Enterprises Network (HEN), Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics Network (AML), and TechFirst. While each support niche industries, GLI’s economic development team will oversee a unified strategy to maximize collaboration between the three networks. For example, HEN will leverage existing expertise within the health-related economy and work with both TechFirst and AML to support innovative and rapidly growing industries like digital health, life sciences logistics, and biomedical manufacturing.
To support these strategies, GLI hired Logan Gatti to oversee HEN and Vahid Mockon to manage both TechFirst and AML. Both Gatti and Mockon will work directly with members, GLI’s economic development and talent teams, and regional partners to ensure consistent collaboration.
Talent remains a top concern
In addition to business attraction, retention and expansion, talent will be an integral piece of the overall economic development strategy. As businesses across the country face unprecedented workforce shortages, it is more critical than ever that Greater Louisville can offer prospective businesses a steady and well-rounded pool of talent to fill potential jobs. In addition to workforce initiatives like the Workforce Ecosystem Hub, and GLI’s talent attraction campaign, Live in Lou, GLI’s advocacy team is also pursuing policies at the state and local levels to maximize workforce participation by removing barriers to work.
To maximize success in the year ahead, collaboration between all GLI department and functions will be stronger than it has ever been before. GLI will pursue strong pro-businesses and equitable policies and programs to attract and develop top talent, develop all three industry networks, and support the continued growth of the Greater Louisville Regional Partnership, to take our regional economy to new heights in 2022.
Ben Pratt is the Chief of Regional Economic Growth and a Senior Vice President at Greater Louisville Inc.