Mayor Fischer: We come together, work together, rise together
Seventh annual State of the City address focuses on a shared prosperity
Citing $9 billion in investments – ranging from new libraries in Okolona and the east end, to restoration of Colonial Gardens in the south end, to 23 new hotels in and around downtown – Mayor Greg Fischer focused his seventh annual State of the City address on Louisville as “one rising American city.”
“Our city overall has achieved a level of prosperity unlike anything in recent memory,” he said in remarks made during a Downtown Rotary Club luncheon held at the Baxter Community Center at Beecher Terrace.
But there is work yet to do, he said, noting that, “To take our place alongside great global cities, we have to ensure that prosperity spreads throughout our city.”
In his six years in office, the Mayor has rotated the location for the State of City address throughout the community. This year’s location was a nod to one of Louisville Metro Government’s biggest recent announcements – a $29.5 million federal grant to redevelop the Russell neighborhood, which Mayor Fischer said is “a tremendous and important opportunity” that will have ripple effects throughout the city.
In a speech that centered on economic and job growth throughout Louisville’s many diverse neighborhoods, the Mayor noted that Russell has a proud past and a promising future.
“I can’t think of a better place from which to examine where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going,” he said.
In an overview to open his speech, he said the city has seen:
· Creation of 61,000 new jobs and 2,600 new businesses;
· Our unemployment rate drop from more than 10 percent to 3.5 percent, the lowest in 15 years;
· Our median wage, adjusted for the cost of living, increase every year since 2008. In 2015 alone, more than 10,000 Louisvillians lifted themselves out of poverty, and more than 7,000 Louisville families joined the middle class.
As he took his audience on a virtual tour of the city, the Mayor highlighted the $320 million Omni Louisville Hotel in downtown; new restaurants and businesses in NuLu, Butchertown, Sheppard Square and Portland; and library expansions and construction in south Louisville, St. Matthews and east Jefferson County.
He noted that Louisville has become a top-tier tourist destination, welcoming over 24 million tourist visits a year, largely thanks to Bourbonism, which brings people to the city year-round for restaurant and distillery experiences on our Urban Bourbon trail.
He also highlighted the city’s commitment to affordable housing, as witnessed by a $2.5 million allocation for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund this fiscal year, and $12 million in loans and support from Louisville CARES to develop more affordable units in all corners of our community.
Emphasizing Metro’s focus on jobs and economic development, the Mayor discussed the Global Louisville Action Plan, which lays out strategies to attract, retain and grow our foreign-born population. “A great city must be a global city,” he said. “We need people who can help us think, work, connect and compete globally.”
The Mayor also announced during his speech that:
- He is asking the Metro Council to add hookah and e-cigarettes to the city’s Smoke Free ordinance.
- The Compassionate School Project, which began with three Jefferson County Public Schools in 2015, is expanding to 25 schools next year.
- Metro Government has received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the Cultural Pass, which provides the city’s children with free access to dozens of our city’s great cultural institutions.
Mayor Fischer closed his remarks by urging Louisville’s residents to take an active part in helping the city succeed.
“The people who have the greatest power to shape the future of Louisville are the people of Louisville,” he said. And, “To make the most of that power, we must face the opportunities and challenges before us together, as one community. Our fates are as connected as our streets and the air we breathe.”