Louisville and Lexington join in regional economic initiative [Opinion: The Arena]

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B.E.A.M.

The mayors of Louisville and Lexington, who have created a new economic partnership to grow jobs for all Kentuckians, today named a high-profile group of business and civic executives to form the board of directors for the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM).  The 21-member board includes the presidents of the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, top executives from Ford and Toyota and leaders of some of the state’s largest private employers, including UPS and Lexmark. Lexington businessman Jim Host, who led efforts to build Louisville’s YUM Center arena, will serve as chairman.

“We are serious about growing jobs in our state and this board is evidence of that,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “The Bluegrass region already has the assets, including two Ford plants and Toyota plant, to become best-in-world at advanced manufacturing.”

Gray & Fischer 11-21-11.jpg

Mayors Gray and Fischer announce their appointments to the Board of directors for the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement at the Kentucky History Center.

Mayor Gray said, “Everyone wants and needs a piece of the economic pie. The problem in Kentucky is that the pie is too small. There are not enough pieces … good jobs with a future … to go around. As Mayor Fisher often says, through BEAM, the state’s two biggest cities are combining forces in a new way, turning away from competition and turning toward collaboration, to make the pie bigger.”

Gray and Fischer named the board during a ceremony in the lobby of the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort. They noted that it was an historic day because Louisville and Lexington, who are often rivals, will now strive to collaborate, rather than compete.

The BEAM board, which will meeting quarterly, held its first meeting today.  In addition to both mayors, the board members are:

  • Jim Campbell, President & CEO, GE Appliances & Lighting
  • Dr. Eli Capilouto, President, University of Kentucky
  • Scott C. Casey, Vice President, UPS Air Group Legal and Public Affairs
  • W. James Host, Chairman
  • Wilbert W. (Wil) James, President, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.
  • Jim Lancaster, CEO and Owner, Lantech.com LLC
  • Stephen C. Lewis, Director Strategic Planning, Ford Motor Company
  • Porter G. Peeples, Sr., President & CEO, Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County
  • Robert L. Quick, CCE, President & CEO, Commerce Lexington Inc. (ex officio member)
  • Dr. James R. Ramsey, President, University of Louisville (ex officio member)
  • Joe Reagan, President & CEO, Greater Louisville Inc.
  • Mary Pat Regan, President, AT&T Kentucky
  • Paul Rooke, Chairman & CEO, Lexmark International, Inc.
  • Vivek K. Sarin, President & CEO, Shelby Industries, LLC
  • Mark A. Sarvary, Chief Executive Officer and President, Tempur-Pedic International
  • Rena L. Sharpe, Vice President of North American Operations, Westport Axle Corp.
  • Al Smith, Journalist, Retired Host of KET’s Comment on Kentucky
  • Keith Stewart, Director of Operations/Site Manager of the Raytheon Missile Systems
  • Jody Wassmer, President and CEO, One Southern Indiana (ex officio member)

BEAM’s goal is to develop a joint regional business plan supporting the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing. With existing centers of excellence in the sector in both communities, including Toyota, Ford, Raytheon, Lexmark, GE, Lockheed Martin and more, Mayors Fischer and Gray believe there is a unique opportunity to create a ‘super-region’ that can compete on a global scale.

The mayors have secured the support of the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, which will bring substantial expertise and connections to this task. The project will use Brookings’ “Metropolitan Business Plan” framework to develop a comprehensive economic development effort designed to nurture and support manufacturers and their supply chains. The goals: quality job creation and increases in export activity.

Back in July of this year, at the Clinton Global Initiative America event held in Chicago, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced their intention to undertake a joint regional economic development initiative to improve both cities’ competitiveness in advanced manufacturing.  With support from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, this 18-month project will determine how Kentucky’s two largest cities can build on existing strengths and work together to achieve significant job growth in advanced manufacturing and other key industry sectors.

The project will cost $250,000 and be funded with private dollars being raised jointly by Commerce Lexington and Greater Louisville Inc.  Laura Chandler, who worked on the Louisville Arena Authority with Host, has agreed to serve as project manager.

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).  Photo credit:  Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM).