Skepticism Abounds for the Ville/Lex Partnership

Today the newly-formed Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement named a 21-member board consisting of a lot of important people from Lexington and Louisville business circles.

BEAM, as its known, is going to do something to bring jobs and companies and goodies and happiness between the cities of Louisville and Lexington. Mayors Jim Gray and Greg Fischer are on board. A couple of foundations have even put up money for it, and the Metro Council has passed a resolution supporting BEAM.  Heck, there’s a Facebook group with 488 members. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in bringing more business to the two cities, especially in manufacturing?

Now, pardon the skepticism, but what exactly is this bunch supposed to accomplish except for giving board members an excuse to go and meet somewhere four times a year?

There is no plan, really, other than having meetings  and the all-important creation of a logo.  Both cities, and the state, already go after every company on the planet contemplating setting up shop in the region.

From today’s release: “BEAM’s goal is to develop a joint regional business plan supporting the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing.”

I suppose the idea is to keep the two cities from competing with each other for business, but that’s really about as likely as declaring that every Wildcat and Cardinal fan in the area root for their rival except when the two teams meet. You can’t eliminate competition between Louisville and Lexington, but it’s nice of the Mayors and all these important people to put on a public show.

I will say that having Jim Host as chairman makes it much more likely that the group will accomplish something, though building an arena downtown is easy compared with getting Louisvillians and Lexingtonians on the same page. Here’s the big shots on the board:

·     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, 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)