Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray have initiated an innovative new partnership – the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement – 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, the mayors believe there is a unique opportunity to create a ‘super-region’ that can compete on a global scale.
Mayors Gray and Fischer 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.
Jim Host, a trusted and proven community leader, has agreed to chair the initiative. The mayors and Mr. Host have assembled a small board of directors composed of business leaders from both communities to oversee the project. Mr. Host has asked Paul Costel, president of Chase Bank’s Kentucky market, to chair an Advisory Committee which will help raise $250,000 to provide capital for the project. In addition, Mayor Fischer has committed 25 percent of the recently announced Bloomberg Grant for Innovation to the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement.
Commerce Lexington Inc. and Greater Louisville Inc., the chambers of commerce in each community, have agreed to help raise the funds, and leaders from both organizations will be assisting with the project. The plan for the region is expected to be completed by mid-2012.
Through the vision created by the entrepreneurial spirit of Mayor Fischer and Mayor Gray, this collaboration has the potential to be a game-changer for Kentucky. Strengthening the state’s urban areas will lead to more prosperity for all its citizens. And this project is only the beginning. Lexington and Louisville have the opportunity to build on the partnership and explore common strengths well beyond advanced manufacturing, bringing global visibility and investment to the state.
For more information on the BEAM initiative, please visit http://www.facebook.com/bluegrassmovement
BUILD IT LOCALLY/SELL IT GLOBALLY
In 2012, the Mayors launched a goal, “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” to increase export successes by 50% in five years. The BEAM focus on exporting supports BEAM’s broader goal to promote growth among the region’s firms. Research shows that exporting firms – whether manufacturing or services – grow faster and can afford to pay their workers better than non-exporting firms.
The BEAM region, like Kentucky as a whole, has made remarkable strides in exporting in the last decade. Kentucky companies exported to nearly 200 countries in 2013 and pushed the state’s exports to an all-time high. BEAM region companies produce over half of the state’s total exports.
But we know the best is yet to come!
GRANT SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESS
The BEAM Kentucky Export Promotion Program supports qualifying small firms with financial assistance for business and export development services to prepare for exporting, understand and identify new sales opportunities, and participate in meetings, trade shows, and trade missions.
Visit the Export Promotion Program page to learn more about the program.