Home » Louisville mayor announces sweeping changes to city’s economic strategy

Louisville mayor announces sweeping changes to city’s economic strategy

All city agencies dedicated to business development to be combined into one entity

LOUISVILLE (April 30, 2014) — Saying Louisville needs a unified and forward-leaning approach to job creation, Mayor Greg Fischer today announced a new economic strategy for the city that combines into one entity all the city agencies dedicated to business development.

“This new strategy, called Louisville Forward, orients us to the future of economic development and recognizes the shifting job creation dynamic,” Fischer said. “The old economic model said people move to where the jobs are. Now jobs locate where talented people are — and people are moving to cities where the quality of life is high.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced a new economic development strategy today.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced a new economic development strategy today.

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“Changes in the world are happening faster than ever and the need for cities to respond quickly for economic development opportunities while thoughtfully integrating a quality of place strategy with all available public and private tools is more important than ever. This plan will help us achieve that.”

Louisville is at pivotal point after 11 years of city-county merger — and Fischer’s observations following three years as mayor have led him and his team to this point, he said. Economic development success is frequently correlated with land use and real estate. Land assembly is a significant driver in larger development, and any company seeking to locate or expand in Louisville desires the optimal location for their enterprise. Deliberate place-making activities create an authentic city that attracts talent and offers locations that provide a competitive edge for business to grow. Quality of place creates quantities of opportunities.

Louisville Forward will be led by Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, the mayor’s current deputy chief of staff and chief of strategic initiatives. The changes will take effect July 1 and be budget neutral, requiring no additional tax dollars but a reallocation of existing resources.

Louisville Forward represents an evolution of the city’s economic and real estate development policies. Economic Development will now contain the full spectrum of business engagement and support to include retail, commercial and industrials businesses from small business through our large enterprises. The city’s real estate development arm, called Develop Louisville, will focus on the full range of land development activities, including planning and design, vacant and abandoned properties initiatives, advanced planning, housing programs, permits and licensing, land acquisition, and development partnerships.

Relationship with GLI changes

As a result of this new comprehensive development strategy, Greater Louisville, Inc.’s contractual economic development relationship with the city will change. The city will now be responsible for the daily work of business attraction and expansion. The city will continue to pay GLI for services related to market and industry research and some client development activities. The balance of the money that the city previously budgeted for GLI’s efforts will now be used to fund Louisville Forward.

“These changes come at a time when GLI was already in the process of recalibrating and setting its agenda for the future, one which is centered on serving the interests of our members and the regional business community,” said Kerry Stemler, chair of GLI’s Board of Directors. “As outlined in our new strategic plan, Advantage Louisville, those critical areas of focus are retaining and growing existing businesses, including supporting the entrepreneurial and start-up community; increasing our region’s human capital and workforce readiness; and expanding our advocacy efforts aimed at creating a more business-friendly environment.”

In the coming months, Louisville Metro and GLI will work together on new collaborations that will bring together the public and private sectors around some specific economic development initiatives.

Wiederwohl, who joined the administration in July 2012, already oversees several of the agencies and initiatives becoming part of Louisville Forward, including Vision Louisville, advanced planning, and the city’s green and sustainability programs. Jeff Mosley, director of economic development, will join her as the new agency’s chief administrative officer. Mosley came to Metro Government in 2013 with a background in finance, law, and economic and real estate incentive development.

With economic development responsibilities shifting to Wiederwohl, Ted Smith will build upon his nationally recognized innovation results and expand his efforts as the city’s chief of civic innovation in the areas of entrepreneurship, 21st century workforce development, community data, and technology initiatives such as gigabit infrastructure.

Metro Council President Jim King said he’s pleased that the city is making changes.

“I support the administration’s reorganization of the city’s economic development strategy. It’s time to take Louisville to the next level,” King said. “Creating jobs and growing our economy is of the utmost importance to all Louisville citizens and it’s critical that our city grows and prospers.”

In addition to the Louisville Forward announcement, Fischer also today promoted Sara Massey as the new director of intergovernmental affairs. Massey, who worked for Wiederwohl, will oversee the city’s outreach and coordination with all governmental partners.

Massey joined the administration in 2011 as legislative liaison and is a native of Owensboro. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s in political science.