Greater Louisville Inc. The Metro Chamber of Commerce
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July 1, 2019 8:47am

Greater Louisville: A Progressive City Gaining National Acclaim for Talent Attraction and Workforce Development Efforts 

Pictured from left to right: Kent Oyler, Greater Louisville Inc.; John Launius, Greater Louisville Inc.; Joseph Gioino, Newmark Knight Frank, New York; David Shrock, NAI Robert Lynn, Dallas; Lew Mollenkamp, American Corporate Location Services, Fort Worth; Ryan Gould, CBRE, Los Angeles; Sean Ferguson, Clark Street Associates, San Francisco; Bob Gallant, Browning Investments, Indianapolis; Paige Webster, Webster Global Site Selectors, Phoenix; Deana Epperly Karem, Greater Louisville Inc.

Greater Louisville Inc. hosted a panel of national site selectors and business consultants about what they see as advantages and disadvantages of locating businesses in Greater Louisville compared to other markets. The  June 21 event, presented by Paducah Bank, was a unique opportunity to learn what greater Louisville looks like to outsiders, offering key insights on how to continue to attract new growth to our regional economy. 

Phenomenal.  Vibrant.  Fun and enlightening.  Eye-opening.  Getting better and on the right track.  Progressive.  These were the words the panel used to describe their week in Louisville, noticing a major difference in the Louisville they visited compared to previous visits.   

“Louisville is a growing and changing city,” said Ryan Gould of CRBE, Los Angeles.  “I do personally believe Louisville is poised for significant growth. Louisville has a strong educational base for undergraduate labor you can pull from. There are 15 colleges within a three-hour drive producing 50,000 grads a year. That goes toe-to-toe with the diversity and inclusion I saw.”   

“I was actually in Louisville four years ago. With your reorganization around regionalism, it’s great,” said  Paige Webster of Webster Global Site Selectors. “Why have the river as a barrier? We don’t look at borders when we bring in a company. We look at the region. The collaboration between Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville – you should keep that going. It’s a great story you should continue to tell.”  

Enjoying Louisville’s new millennial-friendly brand as a foodie town and Bourbon City,  Gould said the national acclaim of the bourbon boom is creating a new quality of life. “People my age are leaving  San Francisco and LA  to move here and I can see myself and my family being here,”  Gould said.    

Consultants also praised GLI’s talent attraction initiative, Live in Lou, as well as the city’s incubators for healthcare innovation,  workforce development efforts to strengthen talent pipelines through JCPS’ Academies of Louisville, higher education institutions and partnerships with local companies in the area.  

“You’re doing something right. Keep doing  that and developing the pipeline at all stages,” said  Bob Gallant of Browning Investments in Indianapolis.  

But how can the Greater Louisville region improve? For starters, more direct flights, Joseph Gioino of Newmark Knight Frank in New York added.   

Making improvements in mass transit and keeping affordable housing affordable were key lessons Louisville can learn from cities like Nashville and Austin, according to  Ryan Gould  of  CBRE  in  Los Angeles. “If you don’t plan ahead you can become  a  gridlocked  city where people don’t want to go,” Gould said. 

Consultants also recommended having one agency point of contact for economic development inquiries. “When I engage a community, I like dealing with one person,” Gioino said.   

Overall, having a strong labor pool is more valuable to site consultants than the lure of economic incentives.  

“Typically,  your labor will cost between eight to ten times your building costs. For us, it’s the labor not the incentives, said  David Schrock, executive director with NAI Global’s Site Selection/Call Centers Services practice.  

“Labor is by far the most important thing. No amount of incentive money can make up for that,” said  Mollenkamp.”