Louisville Forward named one of Site Selection’s Top U.S. Economic Development Groups for 2014

LOUISVILLE, KY  – Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development organization, is named one of the Top U.S. Economic Development Groups for 2014 by Site Selection magazine.  Since its creation in July, Louisville Forward has helped businesses create nearly 3,500 new jobs in Louisville, representing an investment of more than half a billion dollars.

Louisville Forward was formed last summer to unite economic development efforts and built environment functions, allowing business owners to go from concept to permit in one streamlined agency. Giving equal attention to quality of place as economic development, Louisville Forward touches the arts, parks, and other community amenities such as connectivity, schools and being a welcoming, international city.

To achieve its goals of raising the median wage across the city and growing the number of jobs, the Louisville Forward team focuses on five strategic business categories that are historic and contemporary areas of strength to Louisville; Advanced Manufacturing, Food and Beverage, Lifelong Wellness and Aging Care, Logistics and eCommerce, and Business Services.Metro

“We know we have a strong business presence and capabilities in these areas,” said Chief Mary Ellen Wiederwohl. “We also know that continuously improving our quality of place and built environment helps to attract new talent to the city.”

The recognition is based on four objective criteria – jobs, capital investment, jobs per capita and investment per capita. Other subjective criteria also were considered, such as creativity of economic development strategy, depth and breadth of project activity, ability to generate impactful deals, and the ability to document the work of the economic development organization as it relates to real results.

“This year’s Top US Economic Development Groups are recognized for their ability to leverage their community’s assets to reach new markets while making sure existing industries have what they need to thrive,” says Patty Rasmussen, senior editor at Site Selection magazine, who authored the Top Groups report. “As we talked with corporate executives looking to relocate or expand, we found that they’re looking for more than incentives or inexpensive land. Livability is an important differentiator and communities that invest in quality of life infrastructure are seeing that investment pay off.”

The city partnered with Greater Louisville, Inc. for business attraction and expansion efforts for the first half of 2014, before being brought under the Louisville Forward umbrella. In total, there were 70 announced projects in 2014, representing 5,369 jobs and $700 million in investment. This includes 48 projects consisting of 2,126 jobs and $213 million in investment that GLI worked on in the first half of the year.

“Greater Louisville Inc. is pleased to have played a material role on dozens of the projects that led to this important global recognition. We congratulate our partner Louisville Forward, as well as friends in Nelson County who received an honorable mention,” said Kent Oyler, President & CEO of Greater Louisville, Inc. “GLI looks forward to continuing to advance our ongoing public-private partnership with Louisville Forward as we seek to attract even more business and talent to the Greater Louisville region.”

The city also unveiled a new promotional video showcasing Louisville’s economic strengths and authentic quality of life. Video can be viewed at this link.

Since January 2011, Louisville has added 40,000 jobs, with the most being added in the Advanced Manufacturing sector, showing for 11,000 jobs. The largest percentage of business starts has occurred in the Business Services sector, with 66% growth in that sector. Employment in the Lifelong Wellness and Aging Care sector has been on a steady upward trend, adding 3,600 jobs.

Louisville by the numbers:

•1% unemployment rate for 2014 in Louisville-Jefferson County, compared to 7.6% unemployment rate for 2013

•9% unemployment rate for Louisville-Jefferson County in February 2015, compared to 5.8% for the U.S.

•-2.8% decline in unemployment rate from February 2014 to February 2015

•#1 of peer cities in unemployment decline

•6% growth in employment in Louisville-Jefferson from February 2014 – February 2015, totaling 355,600 employees

Top projects for the Louisville Forward group that will be featured in the May issue of Site Selection Magazine include:

Kindred – headquartered in Louisville, Kindred will be expanding its employee ranks by an additional 500 people. The expansion also includes the construction of a new 142,000-sf operations center adjacent to its headquarters building. It is one of the largest healthcare companies in the U.S., providing post-acute care services through transitional care hospitals and nursing and rehabilitation centers.

Omni – Global hotelier, Omni Hotels & Resorts, will build a 30+ floor, multi-purpose building in downtown Louisville, to include a 600-room hotel, 225 luxury apartments, a grocery store, two restaurants, meeting space, an art gallery and other amenities. This $289 million project is estimated to create 765 construction jobs and 320 permanent jobs, and will transform the downtown skyline as well as bring new entertainment and retail opportunities to downtown.

Computershare – An Australian-based financial services and investor communications company, Computershare selected Louisville for an operations center that will employ 250 people in management, human resources, call center representatives and operations staff. Computershare chose Louisville for its central location, the available workforce and authentic quality of place that Louisville provides.

For more information about Louisville Forward, visit www.louisvilleky.gov/louisvilleforward.