Louisville Forward, the city’s economic and community development organization, and Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI), the metro chamber of commerce and regional economic development organization that represents 15 county partners, have been jointly recognized as a Top U.S. Economic Development Organization for 2020 by Site Selection magazine.
This is the seventh straight year Louisville Forward has received the Mac Conway Award for its economic development efforts and the fifth consecutive year that Louisville Forward and GLI have shared the award for their regional efforts.
“If there was ever a year that economic development was to be challenged, it was 2020,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Yet, the teams at Louisville Forward and GLI worked with businesses to support their needs during this critical time and embraced calls for racial justice, all while still doing the daily work of encouraging businesses to locate here or expand their already successful operations. I know these teams are ready to continue tackling these challenges head-on.”
Amidst a pandemic, and in addition to continuing to work economic development projects, Louisville Forward, GLI and other stakeholders have been leading the city’s Build Back Better Together plan, which addressed economic recovery and strengthening its commitment to racial justice and racial equity. Louisville Forward, led by director and co-chief Rebecca Fleischaker, helped about 900 businesses through COVID-19 relief loans and grants, and put funds toward the new Black Business Association, Buy Black Lou’s expanded vendor portal Black Contractors Network and a minority business incubator. GLI has identified inclusion as one of six pillars of its five-year strategic plan, launching the Power to Prosper Minority Business Accelerator, and most recently, launching Greater Louisville’s Racial Equity Pledge that unites businesses with a common goal of advancing economic equity in the region.
“In addition to our traditional work in talent attraction and retention, workforce development and pro-business advocacy, our work in economic development shifted to prioritize creating a more inclusive economy. To continue attracting top-tier businesses, we must shift our national reputation and become known as a city that celebrates diversity,” said Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, president and CEO of GLI. “I am thrilled our partnership with Louisville Forward has once again been recognized through this award and am proud of the projects that have resulted from our collaboration.”
Significant projects highlighted by Site Selection were:
- Eberspaecher North America (automotive)
- Brown-Forman (beverage)
- GE Appliances, a Haier Company (electronics)
- Buildmyplace.com (consumer products)
- Universal Medical Supply (life sciences)
- Eckart America Corporation (consumer products)
- Healthcare Asset Network (life sciences)
In addition to celebrating this recognition, Fischer also commended GE Appliances, a Haier company, and CEO Kevin Nolan. Fischer awarded the Louisville Metro Government Partners in Performance Improvement and Government Innovation Award to GE Appliances. The award annually honors the community partnership that best supports Louisville Metro Government in its journey to continuously improve and create breakthrough civic innovations.
“GE Appliances has set a high standard for public service through its Academies of Louisville program with Doss High School to giving life-changing experiences to SummerWorks participants, the collaborative FirstBuild, Maker Faire Louisville, community hackathons, its commitment to providing PPE, and other acts in the spirit of leveraging innovation to lift our community,” Fischer said.
Past recipients include Humana, Texas Roadhouse, Toyota, Waste Management, Civic Data Alliance and the American Printing House for the Blind.
“Every year, we design and make millions of appliances here that are in half of all U.S. homes. Louisville is our home,” Nolan said. “Throughout this pandemic, we’ve been focused on our three priorities – taking care of our employees, serving our customers and supporting our communities. We’ve always focused not just on what’s good for business, but what’s good for people. We look forward to a bright future here in Louisville.”
Site Selection’s Mac Conway Awards for Excellence in Economic Development recognize the top local and regional economic development agencies in the U.S. Honorees have been determined by an index that examines 2020 corporate facility investment as tracked by Site Selection’s proprietary Conway Projects database. Scores are awarded based on six criteria: total projects, total investment associated with those projects and jobs associated with those projects. The remaining three criteria represent a per capita calculation of those same metrics.