LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Three days of discussions with Denver’s business, civic, and community leaders yielded valuable lessons for the 135 attendees of GLIDE 2018, presented by Stoll Keenon Ogden. Increasing regional collaboration on important initiatives to grow Louisville was the overarching takeaway for the group.
“Denver is booming like never before and they are doing so because they establish their key priorities and work together to accomplish them,” said Kent Oyler, president & CEO of GLI. “Greater Louisville is on the right path, and we need to stay laser-focused on the work we are doing around regionalism.”
GLIDE Denver concentrated on capitalizing on civic development opportunities through the lens of regionalism. Speakers discussed how the city has made major economic strides in transportation, business recruitment, intergovernmental partnerships, and lifestyle amenities.
“Momentum builds momentum and that is evident here in Denver,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer remarked.
Economic experts and political leaders from Denver took time to draw comparisons between Louisville and the Mile High City. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper inspired the Kentucky crowd and expressed optimism about Louisville’s future.
“Collaboration happens at the speed of trust, and economic development happens when you have ‘love of place.’ I have ties to Louisville and I have been there several times. I know Louisville has that ‘love of place,’” Governor Hickenlooper said.
Record growth over the past decade brought unprecedented prosperity to Denver, but a lack of affordable housing is now causing problems within the city. Many of the speakers took time to address how Denver is dealing with growing pains like housing, homelessness, and traffic.
“The key to our transformational change is that we keep investing in our future,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “And we give the people opportunities to be a part of that decision-making process. When we explain the situation and its alternative, the people of Denver have always supported more investment to grow and improve our city.”
The city relied on local option sales tax to build out their multi-modal transportation system and is using tax revenue from the legalization of recreational marijuana to fund public safety and boost affordable housing construction.
At the end of the trip, attendees broke up into small groups and brainstormed multiple ideas to bring home. There was an emphasis on deepening regional partnerships and strengthening Greater Louisville’s business leaders’ influence in state government. Reviving efforts around local revenue options was also a key takeaway. Attendees discussed continuing efforts to recruit more air service through Louisville International Airport and improving the overall transportation infrastructure to serve future residents. Additionally, they suggested Louisville increase efforts to market its best assets like the arts, parks, and hospitality, and further explore the attraction of a professional sports team. Those takeaways will be gathered into a final report in the coming weeks and sent to GLI’s investors and community partners.
The sold-out GLIDE Denver was the 30th economic development study mission hosted by GLI. GLIDE stands for Greater Louisville Idea Development Expedition. The three-day trip is designed to give Greater Louisville’s community representatives, elected officials, entrepreneurs, education delegates, and business leaders the opportunity to study how selected cities have overcome obstacles and achieved success.