Plan puts education, talent recruitment and retention at its heart
By Mark Green
Workforce skills are the key to winning the endless competition characterizing the economic scene rising from the post-Great Recession dust, and a new five-year regional strategic plan Greater Louisville Inc. officials unveiled today puts education, talent recruitment and retention at its heart.
GLI presented its Advantage Louisville strategies for regional economic growth plan to a breakfast audience of 250 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown.
The five elements are:
- Regional Economic Growth Strategy – To get the attention of and “more looks” from outside prospects as well as local support and involvement, Louisville needs improved marketing and promotion of its assets – especially the five leading existing business clusters that offer the best opportunity for growth – and its strategy to build on them.
- Driving Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Better access to money for new businesses and establishment of high tech oasis areas along with support from existing large business entities in the region will encourage creative solutions to community challenges.
- Championing Education and Workforce – The best workforce wins in today’s global economic competition, so the plan will build better access to lifelong learning, promote more student work internships, help more people get college degrees and ask businesses to find more ways to help public and private education at all levels.
- Cultivate Talent – Louisville wants to actively recruit talented individuals from across the nation and around the world and make them feel welcome to the region. Establishing a welcoming culture and reputation will diversify the economic talent base.
- Regional Identity – Economic development must go into areas that have been bypassed by past growth efforts as well as improving regional and metro coalitions. “It’s time to get serious about West End (of Louisville) development,” said GLI President/CEO Kent Oyler.
The plan grew out of input gathered from the Louisville region’s business community stakeholders, especially as assessment of the local economy’s assets and liabilities to identify the best opportunities to accelerate growth and compete with Louisville’s regional peer cities such as Nashville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Columbus, Ohio. GLI engaged Market Street Services of Atlanta to guide the effort.
Conditions since the economic and financial crisis of 2008 represent not exaggerated movement through the standard business cycle but an economic reset, said J. Mac Holliday, CEO of Market Street. Communities must view their improvement and competition efforts as a continuous process rather than something to engage in episodically, he said.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer welcomed the Advantage Louisville plan, he said, because mid-size cities all over the nation are at a crucial junction and must embrace change or be left behind.The city’s goal, Fischer said, is to move past the midpoint into the upper half of its peer city group by 2020 and into the upper third by 2030.
Oyler said the implementation game plan is to spend the final four months of the year building local engagement, setting specifically aggressive goals and raising money. Similar efforts in cities Louisville considers its peer group have included multiyear commitments of $15 million to $20 million, he said.
To be successful, Advantage Louisville must become not just a GLI plan but a holistic economic growth plan for the region.
Growth will come first from five business clusters that Louisville believes already possess world class member entities and talent:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Business services
- Aging care and wellness
- Food and beverage.
At the root of today’s economic compettion, Holiday said, “Quality of workforce. Quality of place. That’s all there is.”
Workforce and talent development must become seamless, integral to the community and considered an unending process, he said. “Economic development is a team sport.”