Louisville Has a Foreign Policy
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has created an Office for Globalization to help grow the city economy and jobs, and appointed a volunteer director, businessman Suhas Kulkarni, to devise a plan to help fund it long term.
“In the last few decades, the world has come to Louisville. Our population growth in the 1990s was due largely to internationals moving to our city,” Fischer said. “Now it’s time for Louisville to take itself to the world.”
A previous city Office of International Affairs closed due to budget cuts. The Office for Globalization is the next generation of that effort, with an expanded focus on economic growth.
Fischer announced that the popular WorldFest, which takes place for two days over Labor Day weekend, will expand to three: Sept. 2-4. It draws more than 100,000 people to the Belvedere downtown to celebrate the world’s diverse cultures. The Office for Globalization will help plan this year’s fest. It will work to integrate internationals into Louisville and encourage civic involvement such as seeking boards and commission openings.
Fisher wants Louisville businesses to explore global opportunities, citing recent in-sourcing from China of hybrid water heaters being manufactured at GE Appliance Park.
After moving to Louisville in 1985 from India and opening a neighborhood grocery, Kulkarni founded Omnitrade International, which supplied industrial mining and earth moving equipment across the world. Since 1991, he has owned and operated Omnisys, an information technology company.
Level Playing Field for Ky Businesses
Kentucky-based businesses now have a fully level playing field when competing with out-of-state vendors for state contracts. Rules implementing a law enacted last year are in effect.
In weighing procurement bids, Kentucky contracting agencies must give in-state bidders preference equal to the preference given to out-of-state bidders in their home states. If a potential low bidder is from a state that grants a 10 percent preference to in-state bidders, then Kentucky-based businesses will receive a 10 percent preference against that out-of-state bidder.
Kentucky joins 35 other states with similar legislation. Local governments increasingly are doing the same. It’s good politics, supporting the local economy and jobs, and it’s good business. There is value in having local firms and expertise to turn to for work, as well as to tap for advice. Meanwhile, product and service quality remains important in vetting bids for work.
“My goal is to help strengthen existing Kentucky businesses and protect our valuable jobs,” said Gov. Beshear. “I want Kentucky businesses to have every tool available to create more jobs and help dig our way out of the current economic crisis.”
Sen. Gary Tapp made the original proposal of the new reciprocal procurement law during the 2010 Regular Legislative Session. Learn about Kentucky’s law by calling (502) 564-4510 or emailing [email protected].
Good Government: Bipartisan Work Cuts Spending, Reduces Recidivism
Kentucky gained recognition for sensible government this month for enacting criminal justice reform in the form of Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act.
It will open more prison space for violent and career criminals while helping stop the revolving door for lower-risk, non-violent offenders. The Legislative Research Commission estimates savings of $422 million over 10 years, some of which wisely will go into efforts to reduce recidivism; for example, probation and parole programs will be strengthened, as will efforts to educate substance abusing offenders.
After passing the Senate unanimously and the House on a 96-to-vote, Gov. Steve Beshear signed it quickly. The legislation is the product of six-plus months of intensive work by the Kentucky Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act.
Sen. Tom Jensen and Rep. John Tilley were co-chairs. The task force included Chief Justice John D. Minton; the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet J. Michael Brown; County Judge/ Executive Tommy Turner; Tom Handy, a former prosecutor; and Guthrie True, a former public defender.
They analyzed a wide array of criminal justice data, compared state policies with national best practices, then forged consensus on a series of recommendations with technical assistance from the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, the Crime and Justice Institute and the JFA Institute. Law enforcement, victim advocates, county officials and jailers, prosecutors, public advocates and judges provided input, too.
A Pew Center on the States news release describing Kentucky at the forefront advancing research-driven, criminal justice policies to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable and control corrections costs was carried in a variety of media outlets. The Wall Street Journal mentioned Kentucky’s reforms prominently and positively in an article that quoted Jensen:
“If you just throw everyone in jail, it’s terribly expensive and they get out and they are in the same boat,” Jensen said. Having long “bought into the tough-on-crime concept,” Jensen said adapting to a more rehabilitative model has been “an education process.”
Frankfort could take a lesson from this experience as it approaches other knotty issues.
75th Anniversary at Keeneland
Keeneland Association has published “Keeneland, A Thoroughbred Legacy” as part of its 75th anniversary celebration this year. The history of the Lexington track and sales facility is packed with photos of big moments such as the visit by Queen Elizabeth II.
Entrepreneurial Fever Catching in Kentucky
Louisville, Lexington and Kentucky garnered a glowing mention in one of Harvard Business Review’s regular blogs in February. Saul Kaplan was guest poster Feb. 11 for the HBR blog The Conversation of a piece (tiny.cc/qi3nv) headlined “Will the Sun Shine Bright on Kentucky Innovation?”
His obvious conclusion: Yes.
Kaplan is founder and “chief catalyst” of the Business Innovation Factory in Providence, R.I. He spent a jam-packed day in Louisville and Lexington, met individually with Mayors Greg Fischer and Jim Gray, visited with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council and taught a class on business model innovation at the University and Kentucky. He also managed to meet with more than 150 entrepreneurs in Louisville and Lexington during a single 24-hour visit.
“What I perceived was a critical mass of entrepreneurs and innovators who are passionate about the local community and stand ready to co-create their region’s economic future,” Kaplan said to blog readers.
He also likes that Fischer and Gray, each first time mayors from business backgrounds, “believe it’s vital to think about the challenge of fostering entrepreneurship and innovation at the level of the city — and that their cities have the potential to lead the way by becoming innovation hotspots.”
Kaplan “left Kentucky excited about the potential demonstrated by new leaders who seem to get it, and optimistic that the community is headed toward a brighter economic future.”
State pub doesn’t get much better.