LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Over 1,000 business and community leaders along with elected officials gathered at GLI’s 2019 Annual Meeting on Monday for one of the largest business networking events in town. Preparing the Greater Louisville region for the goal of becoming a workforce equipped to handle the digital and technology-focused needs of the future was the predominant theme of the meeting, presented by Hilliard Lyons, at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
“The reason we must become a tech town is summed up in one number: 48 percent. That is the percentage of jobs in our area that the Brookings Institution has flagged as likely to be disrupted or eliminated through automation and AI over the next two decades,” said Kent Oyler, president and CEO of GLI. “That is over 391,000 jobs that need to be replaced by jobs involving new technologies. Make no mistake, the future is exciting and bright. But only if we decide to take actions to skill up our workforce for the jobs of the future.”
Google’s top-rated futurist, Thomas Frey, gave the evening’s keynote address. His remarks focused in on a picture of the future, and the potential Greater Louisville will be faced with as society and technology simultaneously advance. Frey challenged the audience to ask—what new industries will be created as Greater Louisville and the rest of the world is presented with this unprecedented opportunity?
“By 2030, the average person will own printed clothing, live in a printed house, have packages delivered by drones, own more than one robot, work as a freelancer, frequently use driverless cars, and will be capable of accomplishing 10 times as much as the average person today.”
As Frey finished painting a picture of what our future could hold, he gave business and city leaders the following recommendations:
- First, to create a freelancer academy system to educate the workforce of tomorrow on how to successfully thrive in the growing “gig economy”
- Second, to dedicate ourselves to giving tours of Greater Louisville’s local start-ups, in order to celebrate the trailblazers of our communities, and start proactively telling their stories of success and inspiration to the next generation of budding innovators;
- And finally, to leverage the power of public memorials, turning our attention away from dedicating resources to cemeteries and tombstones, and instead focusing on building parks and public amenities that memorialize while benefitting the public.
“If we change people’s visions of the future, we change the way they make decisions today,” said Frey, urging the crowd to consider the potential of the projects they take on tomorrow and the day after designed to evolve and advance the city.
“Always remember,” urged Frey, “the future is never a destination—always a journey.”
Mayor Greg Fischer told the audience his favorite Frey quote is, “Thinking about the future will cause it to change.”
Fischer challenged the business community to think about Louisville differently and to strive to not only do better than it has in the past but also strive to do better than its competitors. It’s the only way to catch up to cities like Charlotte, Indianapolis and Nashville, he said.
“We’ve got to invest in ourselves because we see the future coming at us fast and furious … all of us here, we’ve got to do better,” Fischer said. “We need a competitive spirit, a spirit of belief in investment to meet this challenge and all of our challenges. That’s the spirit we need to create the future the people of the city of Louisville deserve.”
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin addressed the audience through video, adding to the evening’s call to action to begin evolving and adapting the Greater Louisville workforce. “We can’t continue to do things the way we’ve always done them, said Bevin. “I just ask you—be engaged. Think as business people. What is best for you, for your business, for your employees, for your family, for the future of your community—what is it that Kentucky can do to take the greatest advantage of all the resources we’ve been blessed with?”
Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, owner and CEO of Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co., was presented with the prestigious Gold Cup award by previous Gold Cup winners—2003 recipient Ed Glasscock, 2009 recipient Christy Brown, and GLI’s most recent recipient from 2017, Bill Samuels. GLI recognized Bridgeman with the Gold Cup award for his lifetime of business accomplishments and his never-ending commitment to make the Greater Louisville region a better place.
Three Silver Fleur-de-Lis awards were also presented to Danny Wimmer Presents in recognition of their of three new festivals—Bourbon & Beyond, Louder Than Life, and Hometown Rising—that add to Louisville’s growing cultural scene; to the Kentucky International Convention Center for the transformative completion of its $207 million expansion and renovation project in downtown Louisville; and to the Omni Louisville Hotel for their long-awaited opening in 2018 – completing a stunning, 30-story addition to the Louisville skyline.