LOUISVILLE (Aug. 25, 2014) – The 22-county BEAM region encompassing Louisville and Lexington needs to make significant investments to shore up economic development efforts, and must target those investments wisely, according to an infrastructure assessment the 51-member committee of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement released today.
The assessment examined the region’s infrastructure, including roadways, waterways, and fiber optic capabilities.
“This is a challenge facing every city and every region in the nation,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “We know the entire country has been letting infrastructure needs slide for too long. But the leaders of the future will be the communities that meet this challenge head-on. That’s why I am pleased that this report takes an unflinching look at our challenges.”
“Our manufacturing economy operates regionally, so it makes sense to look at our infrastructure on a regional level,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. “We’ve found there is solid infrastructure to move people and goods, and in some cases it is world class. But there are challenges, as well. We won’t flinch from taking those on to ensure our region’s competitiveness moving forward.”
BEAM is a 22-county region that connects and surrounds Louisville and Lexington. The region began working together on a joint regional business plan in 2011 so that it would be better positioned to “seize the manufacturing moment.” BEAM has established six strategies to become an advanced manufacturing hub, from increasing innovation and exports to leveraging regional concentrations and clusters and developing placemaking and human capital.
The report looks at infrastructure needed to support manufacturing in three general areas:
• Moving people
• Moving products
• Essential services (an area that has been expanded from energy, water, sewer and solid waste issues to also include communications needs.)
The report concludes that while the BEAM region has significant strengths – from access to low-cost water and energy to the UPS WorldPort facility – it needs to improve broadband internet access and public transit, has gaps in commercial airline service, and needs to deal with aging roads and bridges. It spells out recommendations for each area, including aggressively monitoring efforts to improve communications capabilities in the region.
“This kind of assessment is incredibly valuable because it affects not only the quality of life of all residents, but also the future of economic development and the region’s job base,” said Chris Hermann, chair of the infrastructure committee. “The committee worked hard to compile a report that would be a vital first step toward building the infrastructure of tomorrow.”
You can find the entire report here.