Greater Louisville Inc. The Metro Chamber of Commerce 2019 Chamber of the Year
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February 7, 2018 12:04pm

Read GLI CEO Kent Oyler’s Annual Meeting Speech

Boldness, tenacity, passion. You know it when you see it.  That driven self-confidence that isn’t afraid of taking risks.  That changes the world. That moves, shakes, and demands success.   Attitude that gets the hard stuff done.

We saw it on the GLIDE trips to Austin and Nashville.   I’m talking about BIG THINKING leaders that envision success, claim it for their own, and live it every day. Leaders like our Gold Cup recipient Bill Samuels, and the winners before him.   They embrace the winning mindset we find in the great cities aspire to become and in the people that we want to be around.

Here in Louisville we’ve been working towards greatness since our city was founded.   Big things have happened here; great companies started here and great people live here.  Think about it. Nobody else has managed to pull of merged government since we did it 15 years ago.  Nobody else has built two new bridges at once, but we did it.  Cincinnati hasn’t even built one.  And no other city does the BIG events like Derby, PGA and Forecastle as well as we do.

We don’t have to become great, we already are.  We don’t have to prove it to anyone else, but we do have to believe it ourselves and use that confidence to do even more big things.  

There is a lot more great stuff happing here right now, some of which we will honor tonight.   Our soccer team just won their national championship and announced a new stadium.  Apellis Pharmaceuticals just pulled off one of the largest IPOs in Kentucky history. Last week, on this very block, our keynote, Ben Breier, cut the ribbon on Kindred’s new headquarters addition that transforms this end of 4th Street.  Louisville is HAPPENING!

We are well on our way to becoming the best Louisville ever and are making gains on the Austins and Nashvilles of the world.  And to do more, we need to embrace the future and recognize that we are in a competition with our peer cities. Competitions have winners and losers.  And the consolation prize in this competition is being downgraded to a third-tier city.

To win, we must attract and retain talented people to fill our 27,000 open jobs.  To get Amazon and the next Amazon to move here, we have to invest in marketing our region like never before.  To compete and win, we must fund our startups and celebrate the entrepreneurs who put it all on the line.

To win, we must be bold and improve our public schools.  We must pursue professional team sports.  And to beat our peer cities and states, we must insist that our elected officials take hard votes to change our tax structure, fix our failed pensions, and improve public infrastructure.

Last year, GLI invested heavily in setting the stage for a break-out year in 2018 and I thank you for your support.   We had the most successful legislative session in Kentucky’s history, helping pass critical legislation like right to work, medical review panels and public benefit corporations.   Laws that people said would NEVER pass; but WE DID IT. YOU DID IT.

GLI recruited 800 new high-wage jobs to town.   We launched our city’s first comprehensive talent attraction & retention campaign.  We worked with Kentuckiana Works and JCPS to launch the transformational Academies of Louisville and we secured 225 SummerWorks jobs.

And when it came time to submit a credible bid for Amazon’s second Headquarters, in just 2 days, companies in this room ponied up $100,000 to cover the costs.  That’s TENACITY! That’s what BIG THINKING looks like!

And we are just getting going.  Our GLI 2020 capital campaign is well on its way to raising $7.5 Million in private funds to invest in growing the regional economy.  And we are going to be calling on each of you to Get Engaged.  We are aggressively attacking workforce shortages and recruiting more new companies to move to our region.

We are declaring 2018 to be the ‘Year of the Entrepreneur’ as Louisville opens the new entrepreneurship center in NuLu, welcomes back Steve Case’s Rise of The Rest tour and hosts Endeavor’s International Selection Panel.

We are leveraging our public policy clout as Greater Louisville’s voice of business in Frankfort, Indianapolis, Washington and City Hall. And we will increase the ROI on your chamber investment by strategically connecting you to the people you want to do business with.

For the last 20 years, when big challenges and opportunities arose, GLI was there to make sure Louisville won.  GLI is a FIERCE competitor and we want Louisville to win, just like you want us to win. I can’t say it strongly enough… This is a competition against our peer cities. There will be winners and losers. Third-tier status is NOT an option for US.

TOGETHER, we will WIN.  Together, we CAN and WILL move the needle on greatness.  As you will hear tonight from our governor, our mayor, our keynote, and other speakers.