March 15, 2022 4:48pm
Joint survey shows workers are returning to downtown Louisville
Local organizations poll downtown businesses on return-to-work plans
Louisville, Ky. (March 15, 2022) – Workers are returning to downtown Louisville, according to a survey of downtown businesses conducted by Greater Louisville Inc., Louisville Downtown Partnership, Louisville Forward, and Louisville Tourism. 92 percent of the 63 respondents said their employees had already returned to their downtown office full-time or in a hybrid capacity. The other eight percent responded they had plans to return by or before May 1.
“Although downtowns across America have struggled in the wake of the pandemic, downtown Louisville’s pre-pandemic energy is returning because of the commitment of our great business partners to bring employees back and Louisville Metro’s investments in beatification, public safety, and infrastructure,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Every week, activity is increasing with workers back in the office, visitors taking advantage of our great attractions, and the return of our arts and cultural events. We are excited about the future of downtown.”
Plans for hybrid work varied, according to the survey, due to the variety of industries and business sizes in the Central Business District. Some respondents said they plan to keep employees at home one to three days per week, while others are requiring full-time in-person work.
“As we move forward from the pandemic, we understand that employees’ preferences and expectations have evolved. We encourage businesses to find a working style that works best for their staff while still having a presence in the heart of our region,” said Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, president and CEO of GLI. “Not only does returning to in-person work create a strong sense of community in our downtown, but it also supports the restaurants, retail establishments and events that make our region unique.”
The survey was sent to Downtown businesses and included responses from a variety of industries including business services, healthcare, and hospitality. While some of the largest employers indicated a portion of their workforce had moved to permanent remote work, most stated they had plans to have half or more of their workforce at their downtown location.
“Vibrancy takes people, and we are excited at the prospect of more daytime employees returning to the office and therefore enlivening the streets in Downtown,” said Rebecca Fleischaker, executive director of Louisville Downtown Partnership. “The businesses that have served these employees are open and ready, and LDP is working to activate spaces and create community events which also will be attractive to downtown workers.”
The hospitality and tourism industries have limited capacity for remote work, and most businesses and organizations remained in-person over the past two years. Despite both industries being disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn of the pandemic, data from the fourth quarter of 2021 shows that hospitality and tourism are making significant comebacks.
“As the primary marketing organization for Louisville as a destination, we know a great place to visit starts with being a great place to live. Having an energetic downtown is vital – not only for our guests but also for our community members, local hospitality industry and downtown businesses who play a supportive role in the corridor’s overall economic health,” said Cleo Battle, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “As we continue to see investment in the city’s product development with new hotels, restaurants and attractions, it is incumbent upon all of us to help sustain this essential infrastructure.”
In 2021, the four organizations joined forces to launch “Lou Needs You”, with the goal of driving traffic to the Central Business District and adjacent neighborhoods. Through strategic marketing across a number of platforms, the campaign highlighted and told the stories of local businesses who needed community support and patronage as the local economy re-opened. The organizations also worked together to coordinate communications with downtown businesses and tourists through their platforms.