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GLIDE Nashville yields important lessons for Louisville

Nashville is known as "Music City."
Nashville is known as “Music City.”

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 13, 2017) – Three days of discussions with Nashville’s business, civic, and community leaders yielded valuable lessons for the 127 attendees of GLIDE 2017, presented by Stoll Keenon Ogden. Working together collaboratively and deliberately turned out to be the overriding theme for the group.

“Nashville grew because they had a detailed and intentional plan and buy-in from multiple groups in the public and private sectors,” Kent Oyler, president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., said. “They stuck with their plan through multiple funding rounds even as their goals became more and more aggressive. Now they are enjoying the fruits of explosive economic and population growth.”

The trip focused on Nashville’s sense of place, economic growth, and business-friendly public policy. Attendees heard from Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry, Bob Rolfe, commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Economic Development, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s senior staff, and local university recruiters.

They also attended sessions around the intentional community branding of Nashville as “Music City,” entrepreneurship, K-12 education, and healthcare innovation. Jim O’Malley, Brown-Forman’s senior vice president of Global Government Affairs, served as the Chair of the GLIDE 2017 Steering Committee, which was instrumental in determining the trip’s agenda and areas of focus.

At the end of the trip, attendees broke up into small groups and brainstormed multiple ideas to harness the power of visitors, build the next generation of workers and leaders, move the public policy needle forward to Greater Louisville’s advantages, and fund big changes in the regional community.

“Nashville taught us that we must seize the moment and get to work on intentionally building the future,” GLI Board Chair Evelyn Strange told the group. “Collaboration and deliberate, consistent branding are the critical things that drove this city’s growth and it can work for Louisville too.”

Other takeaways from the group included empowering organizations and citizens to really “sell” what makes the Greater Louisville region a wonderful place to live and work, the need to modernize Kentucky’s tax code into a more competitive structure, better connecting the business community within the public and private schools systems to build a stronger workforce, and investing in targeted promotion of the Greater Louisville region to outsiders.

“Luckily, we are not starting from square one,” Oyler stated. “GLI 2020 is a clear plan to address many of these identified areas. Now the real work begins and we need everyone on the same page to move our region forward. This was an important step towards our goals.”

GLIDE Nashville was the 29th economic development study mission hosted by GLI. GLIDE stands for Greater Louisville Idea Development Expedition. The three-day trip is designed to give Greater Louisville’s community representatives, elected officials, entrepreneurs, education delegates, and business leaders the opportunity to study how selected cities have overcome obstacles and achieved success.