January 4, 2017 3:49pm
With the Holidays behind us, many of us are making New Year’s resolutions to better ourselves (or better yet in the business world, preparing to execute well-conceived annual plans). As we celebrate our 20th year, GLI, the Metro Chamber of Commerce, sees tremendous opportunity in the year ahead, following on significant progress in 2016. First, a quick review of the highlights from Greater Louisville Inc.’s eventful 2016:
We are only as strong as our base of investors and I am proud to report that the base is growing. In 2016, we doubled the number of new Top Investors compared to the previous year and our retention rate of existing investors was an impressive 90 percent. In that same vein, investors’ satisfaction with GLI made significant improvements over the recent past. We started 2016 with an impressive Annual Meeting outlining our vision for the year and we will be doing the same on January 25th, 2017.The Chamber’s GLIDE leadership trip to Austin sold out for the first time in our 20-year history and we produced over 70 ticketed events for the business community.
Regionalism took center stage during the first half of the year. The bi-state, 15-county Advance Greater Louisville regional partnership was operationalized with all of the partners playing an active role in new business attraction. I’m proud to report that this regional approach to economic development resulted in 1,750 jobs in its initial year. We also celebrated the completion of the Ohio River Bridges Project with our counterparts at One Southern Indiana. Since Louisville International Airport is the front door to our region, GLI’s Regional Air Coalition (RAC) focused on securing more nonstop flights to and from Louisville by attracting OneJet to our airport and sponsoring work for more mainline service.
Beyond simply attracting expanding businesses to Greater Louisville, one of our primary initiatives, near and dear to my heart, is growing our entrepreneurial environment. GLI’s EnterpriseCorp, the Louisville office of the Kentucky Innovation Network, assisted 36 local companies in raising $15.8 Million in funding in 2016. The team completed a new transformative entrepreneurial advancement plan which will take that number to new heights in the years ahead.
The latter part of the 2016 was focused on what makes this region truly special, our PEOPLE. GLI is committed to attracting and retaining talent to support our growing economy and our work has already begun for 2017. In November, we launched a new LivinLou brand meant to inspire residents to be recruiters for Greater Louisville. It’s important that we do all we can do to keep our educated people here, while attracting new residents with a diversity of talent and perspective. This is what will grow our economy and make Greater Louisville a location for creative and innovative talent. In partnership with the Mayor’s office, we rolled out the Global Louisville plan, which will help people from all over the world find their place in our region’s growing workforce.
In that same vein, we assisted in growing that skilled workforce by advocating for the passage of the expungement reform bill for non-violent, Class D felonies. This new law is giving tens of thousands of Kentuckians a chance to make a decent living by not letting a single mistake mar them for life. GLI assisted in passing a pharmacy reform bill, which led to the creation of 500 new jobs in Jefferson County. In the coming session, there are multiple opportunities to make our state even more competitive in 2017. Red Tape Reduction, Right to Work, comprehensive tax reform with an emphasis on local control, authorizing public benefit corporations, and tort reform are just a few of the legislative priorities that will accelerate economic growth in the year ahead.
This year we plan to lean into our talent initiatives with several new positions added to fill the pipeline of open jobs in our region. We are already working hard on the Mayor’s SummerWorks program to give young people their first experiences in the work place. It’s a vital program that can really impact the trajectory of a teenager’s life. I encourage everyone in the business community to get involved in shaping the future of our city’s youth. GLI is focused on being the cheerleader for the region in economic development and talent attraction, but we need everyone to get involved. It is a phenomenal time to be here and we need to show pride for our city and region.
This is no time to rest on our laurels. While 2016 was a good year for business, but there is much to be done to build on the momentum and accelerate our region’s economic growth. As always GLI will be in the thick of it, focusing on the priorities and initiatives that grow our regional economy in new and interesting ways. As I like to say, a rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s make 2017 a year that elevates Greater Louisville and its people to new heights. Happy New Year!