360 Fireworks Party

Monday, November 14, 2011


by Michael Monks 
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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer speaks to NKY
Chamber of Commerce at The Grand in Covington
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke before approximately sixty people at today's government forum sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Fischer leads Kentucky's largest city, one that has had great success with redeveloping its riverfront as Covington and its sister River Cities hope to do too. Louisville has had so much success in that area, that its results will be featured at the Smithsonian next spring. Fischer said the impetus for launching redevelopment in Lousiville was simply civic pride. "Leaders were tired of looking at our front door and seeing scrap metal and junkyards," the Democrat Fischer said. "If this is the Gateway to the South, why would people want to go any farther?"
Attendees listen to Mayor Fischer
Fischer, 53, was elected in November 2010 to his first term. His current position is his first in public life, though he sought and lost the 2008 Democratic nomination for US Senate to businessman Bruce Lunsford who lost that year to Mitch McConnell. Fischer's life in private and public service were highlights of what he describes as a successful strategy in any type of redevelopment plans for governments. "You have to get everyone to the table so no one can point fingers," Fischer said, stressing the importance of public-private partnerships. "We had the city, the state, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the private sector. You got a lot more municipalities than we had to feal with so it's even more important for you to bring everyone to the table."
Over two decades $125 million has been spent in redeveloping Louisville's riverfront and downtown areas, Fischer said. The mayor offered amounts of $25 million from the city, $40 million from the state $40 million from private contributions, and $15 - $20 million from the city's Brown Foundation. "Government invests in greenspace and infrastructure and the private sector should find that appealing and follow suit with redevelopment," Fischer said. 
Successes and goals for Louisville offered up by Fischer include Whiskey Row, the Waterfront Park, East Market and 4th Street Live! which attracts 4.5 million visitors annually, many from outside the area. As Covington and the River Cities aim for similar successes, our region also shares some of Louisville struggles. Downtown retail and residency still need work and Fischer argued that his city needs a Downtown grocery store. Also, the city is in need of not one but two new bridges that span its portion of the Ohio River. "We've been working on a bridge for forty-two years," Fischer said, adding that when work begins, five-thousand jobs would be created and the regional economy would be opened up. 
Mayor Fischer spent much of the morning and lunch in the River Cities before his speech that touted the benfits of merged government("We speak to businesses with one voice.") and highlighted Louisville's economic successes, including the UPS hub that he says results in the creation of one separate business every three weeks. The city's growing international community was also highlighted with Fischer saying 12% of Louisville's residents were born outside America and that they run the gamut from "refugee to PhD". Education in Louisville was also touted with plans to develop a "university district" around its larger institutions of higher learning.
The mayor spoke highly of his visit to Covington and the River Cities, expressing optimism that similar results could happen here, too. "You guys got a lot going on in terms of development and excitement in the River Cities," Fischer said. "You don't go to too many places that have as much going on as you. Sometimes when you're so close, you don't see it." 

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