Growing the regional economy


By Greater Louisville Inc.

Waterfront Park has been called Louisville’s “front yard” by Mayor Greg Fischer. The stunning space hosts dozens of special events throughout the year.

In 2016, Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) brought together the 15 counties that make up Greater Louisville to create and market one, centralized regional economy. Since then, the Greater Louisville Regional Partnership has launched an unified brand and vision for economic growth that sells each county’s unique assets and ensures every project considers the region as a whole.

GLI is a presenting sponsor of the Greater Louisville Market Review. Read more about the 15 counties of the Greater Louisville Regional Partnership in the 2022-2023 edition.

As the regional chamber of commerce, GLI has represented the interests of more than 1,800 businesses for more than 25 years. GLI members span a variety of industries and locations, each with their own distinctive needs. The regional partnership was initially increasing created to coordinate marketing and business attraction practices, with the goal of high-quality economic growth. Since its inception, it has helped bring more projects to the area and boosted the reputation of Greater Louisville across the nation.

Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, president/ CEO of GLI

GLI serves as the manager of the regional partnership and through its strong relationships with each of the constituent partners, has built a well-respected regional economic development organization that has been the recipient six years in a row of Site Selection magazine’s Mac Conway Award. Regionalism is a national best practice, and Greater Louisville is proof of its impact on local farming.

As the convener of the partnership, GLI works with national site selectors and consultants to market the region, showcasing both the aggregate assets as well as the unique offerings of each county. Through detailed needs assessments, real estate searches coordinated across brokers and regional partners, and coordinated site visits, GLI helps consultants narrow down their decision to a single county then the project refers to the local county partner to close the deal.

Since 2016, GLI has worked on 223 projects that have created more than 30,000 jobs. Operating as a partnership makes Greater Louisville more competitive with peer markets like Nashville and Indianapolis, which have reaped the benefits of regionalism for many years. Like any strategy, this approach requires fluidity to ensure the work is following trend data and best practices. GLI continues to advocate for appropriate changes to ensure it creates a streamlined process externally and gives prospective investors a single point of entry into the region.

UPS Worldport in Louisville is the largest fully automated package handling facility in the world, with 5.2 million sf in its sort hub. UPS is investing $750 million to expand the global air hub.

Resources for success

GLI is well-equipped to lead economic development because of its close ties to the business community and deep understanding of businesses’ evolving needs and desires. The chamber works with businesses, industry leaders, officials, and consultants each day to understand their expansion opportunities, regulatory, staffing, and growth-related challenges.

With a dedicated advocacy arm, GLI is the voice of the regional business community at every level of government. The chamber advocated for the passage of the historic federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is now bringing much-needed funding to modernize the region’s infrastructure. GLI also championed legislation to incrementally decrease and eventually eliminate Kentucky’s personal income tax. This tax reform will not only help Greater Louisville keep up with surrounding markets but is also a major selling point to prospective talent and businesses.

The availability of pre-zoned and prepared parcels of land has set the region apart from competitors in recent years. Due to explosive growth of the economy, demand is currently outpacing supply of these “shovel-ready” plots. During the session, GLI successfully advocated for expansion of Kentucky’s Product Development Initiative (PDI) to allocate funding to county partners to create more develop-ready parcels of land.

Combating the global workforce shortage remains a top priority for businesses. In addition to advocating for policy solutions to address underlying causes of lagging workforce participation, GLI mobilizes its workforce department and Talent Central hub of resources to help existing and new businesses retain, develop, and attract talent. Through its Live in Lou initiative, which is being replicated in markets across the US, GLI markets the quality-of-life assets of the region and attractions emerging and established talent to Greater Louisville.

Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) and Louisville Forward were jointly recognized as a Top US Economic Development Organization for 2021 by Site Selection magazine, the leading economic development publication in the US Photo by Marty Pearl

Innovative industry clusters

GLI’s economic development strategy remains focused on industries that have long-term growth potential and the ability to differentiate Greater Louisville’s competitive advantage from peer markets. GLI focuses its business attraction and expansion efforts on four main industries, which were identified through thorough analysis of existing industry presence, and the regional assets and competitive advantages that already exist. The industries of focus include:

  • Digital health
  • Life sciences logistics
  • Electric vehicle and battery manufacturing supply chain
  • Biomedical manufacturing

These four fields build on the region’s traditional strengths in health care and advanced manufacturing/logistics, weaving in the region’s recent expansion as a hub for technology. The targeted clusters also represent areas of overlap between each of its three industry networks: Health Enterprises Network (HEN), Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics Network (AML), and TechFirst. While each network supports niche industries, GLI’s economic development team oversees an unified strategy to maximize collaboration between the three networks.

A bright future

By embracing regionalism and a spirit of collaboration, Greater Louisville’s economy is soaring to new heights. In the years ahead, GLI will continue working directly with existing and prospective businesses to prepare the region to keep up with rapid innovation and advancements. Utilizing the regional strategy, Greater Louisville is aligned for ahead and accelerated growth in the decade ahead.

Greater Louisville Inc. is the region’s chamber of commerce. Find out more about GLI and all of its initiatives at greaterlouisville.com.

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