Once the Louisville Orchestra’s brilliant Teddy Abrams completed his wizardry at the piano at the Louisville Palace Jan. 26, GLI CEO Kent Oyler asked an enthusiastic crowd of a thousand businessmen and women if a Chamber of Commerce is still a necessity. He claimed it’s something he’d been asked about recently, and perhaps it’s a question many in the audience had asked.
Of course, he presented a convincing case for the business organization’s existence. And those who followed him on stage, Gov. Matt Bevin (by video), Mayor Greg Fischer, Humana President & CEO Bruce Broussard and Aetna Chairman Mark Bertolini, presented positive news on the health of business around here, creating what amounted to a pep rally complete with glow rings to represent the green colors of Humana and Aetna.
Bevin, the first Republican governor since Ernie Fletcher, is a popular figure at GLI. And after enduring eight years of the twangy, scratching voice of Steve Beshear, Bevin’s smooth delivery at the very least provides a more sophisticated image of our state’s highest office. His five-minute video appeared to be a totally impromptu effort, as if an assistant had said to him “Hey, Governor, you’ve got to go record this message to the Louisville business organization” and he did it in one take with no notes. Bevin, who was busy delivering his State of the Commonwealth address last night, mentioned the importance he places on education and workforce issues.
Greg Fischer followed with a list of great things occurring, including Friday’s expected ground-breaking of the Omni Hotel downtown, and a plea for employers to hire young people this summer for his SummerWorks program.
And what would an annual meeting be without awards — Silver Fleur de Lis awards went to the Bridges Coalition and the Louisville City Soccer Club — both of which had really good years.
Here’s the official release from GLI:
GLI’s Annual Meeting: Collaboration Lauded As A Key to Greater Louisville’s Success
(Louisville, KY) – Regionalism was the main theme of the Metro Chamber’s Annual Meeting Tuesday night. More than a thousand people attended the event the Louisville Palace. The event is considered the premier business networking event of the year featuring business, civic, and community leaders from across the region in one place for one night only.
CEO Kent Oyler spoke about raising Greater Louisville to new heights through a variety of public and private partnerships facilitated by the local chamber.
“We need all the assets and all the people from across our 15-county, 2-state metro to deliver on our workforce and business attraction goals. How we work together will define our success moving forward,” Oyler said. “In 2016, it will be the mechanism GLI uses to market our region to the world for business and talent attraction. We must aggressively reach out and bring in new companies.”
Oyler also took the time to recognize the special guest speakers of the evening, Aetna Chairman & CEO Mark Bertolini and Humana President & CEO Bruce Broussard, by turning the Palace’s lights green in honor of the companies.
Bertolini spoke about the plans to merge the two health insurance companies.
“We’ve made a commitment to only one community as part of our worldwide business and that’s Louisville,” Bertonlini said, drawing cheers form the crowd.
“We have the opportunity to fix this problem and save our economy at the same time,” Bertolini said in reference to cutting medical waste and saving money spent by the government. He spoke about the integration of social programs into health care to create a healthier society.
While Bruce Broussard of Humana took time to talk about the changing landscape of the health care industry.
“The great thing about the transaction is it brings Humana’s strengths of clinical care and individual Medicaid services to those 38 million Aetna clients,” Broussard said. “The future is bright.”
Governor Matt Bevin was unable to attend the event in person, but sent a video message to the audience.
“I do appreciate you being a part of the life blood of your communities and of Kentucky as a whole. We could not begin to do what needs to be done in the state budget without those of you out there employing people, paying taxes and being the actual economic engine that funds the entire process,” Governor Bevin remarked. “GLI has been an integral part of not only the Jefferson County community and the immediate counties beyond, but also to the fabric of our state.”
The Governor also highlighted workforce development as a major priority for his administration in the coming years.
“We are going focus very heavily, and you will see this in the budget I am putting forward, on workforce development. It does us little good putting young people out into the working arena if they are unprepared either for post-secondary education or the workforce or both,” Governor Bevin said.
Mayor Greg Fischer also spoke at the meeting and took time to discuss his SummerWorks program, which pairs young people with summer jobs to give them real world experience in the workforce.
“There is unfinished business with this economic recovery and that is that we need to have more citizens with more skills, entering the workforce.” Mayor Fischer said. “Hiring young people through Summerworks makes all people feel more connected to the momentum of our city.”
In addition to the speakers, GLI presented two Silver Fleur-de-Lis Awards to The Bridges Coalition and Louisville City Football Club. The Silver Fleur-de-Lis was created by GLI to recognize outstanding commitments and achievements over the past year in making the Louisville community a better place in which to live and work.
Teddy Abrams and members of the Louisville Orchestra performed an original piece of selection as part of the program as well.