By Barbara Day
I attended the Business First What’s Brewing Tues morning at the KY International Convention Center. Tom Monahan, Publisher of Business First, asked a series of questions to a panel about JOBS, JOBS & JOBS.
The panel included: Paul Coomes, PhD, Economics Professor, University of Louisville, College of Business, Eileen Picket, Executive Vice President of Greater Louisville, Inc, and Tom Underwood, Kentucky State Director, National Federation of Independent Businesses.
Tom Monahan started the conversation by stating, “The Louisville area, which includes Southern Indiana, lost 7,500 jobs in 2010. There are now fewer jobs in the region than there were in 2000.”
Dr. Coomes indicated, through a series of slides, there are less jobs today in Louisville than in 2000. Dr. Coomes pointed out that Raleigh, NC, Charlotte, NC and Nashville, TN have continued to increase jobs even while the economic downturn has dramatically caused job loss nationally. Dr. Coomes reported any increases in jobs in the Louisville area were only in the government sector rather than in the private sector.
Tom Underwood indicated that lack of capitol availability is the number one problem for the small business owner along with the massive government regulations which have been effective at killing jobs in the Louisville area. Underwood said there are 73,000 small companies in Kentucky with less than 10 employees. He indicated small businesses were running the economic engines around the state. All the panelists agreed that Kentucky needed to change their tax laws through comprehensive tax reform across the board so Kentucky could be more competitive with both Tennessee and Indiana.
Eileen Picket suggested that GLI has concentrated on senior care companies since Louisville is on the way to becoming nationally recognized as a leader in senior care. (In 2014, when Affordable Care Health Reform is enforced, here’s hoping the $1/2 trillion cut to Medicare won’t have a negative impact on Louisville as a result. Job loss at Humana was a result of the passage of Health Care Reform in 2010 with the proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage).
All the panelists agreed that an East End Bridge would dramatically boost economic growth in the Louisville area. Dr. Coomes said the East End Bridge should have already been built years ago but it had been met with massive resistance from a relatively small but well funded group of people who were against the East End Bridge being built in their neighborhood.
Note: On the way home from the breakfast meeting, I was listening to the Mandy Connell Show on WHAS 840. Rebecca Jackson was her guest. Rebecca was discussing the East End Bridge situation. I was interested because all the panelists had just been discussing the positive economic impact that the East End Bridge would have. Rebecca was talking about how a group called the River Fields Organization has been obstructing the building of the East End Bridge for years. The group apparently has come up with yet another obstacle as to why the East End Bridge cannot be built. This time it’s due to a Historic Garden. They want a tunnel built under the historic garden which will cost millions of dollars more. The drama continues. Obviously group is not interested in the economic development of Louisville. For more information go http://www.kentuckiansforprogress.org/ or www.stopthesuit.com.
Dr. Coomes discussed how University of Louisville has transformed itself into a major research center in Health Care through the vision of Dr. John Shumaker and more recently implemented by Dr. James Ramsey. Dr. Coomes suggested this transformation will actually help drive economic growth in Louisville. Not only will help increase the education level of Louisville residents making them more competitive for companies who may relocate in Louisville but it will also be a great source of economic development in the future of Louisville.
Unlike Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee both cater to businesses because they have lower taxes and lower health care costs which help promote economic growth according to the panelists. In fact, all the panelists agreed Kentucky needs to become more competitive in both those areas so Louisville (and Kentucky) can recruit new businesses to the city and state.
Tom Monahan reported that Mayor Fischer said on the campaign trail he would personally bring in 10 new companies to Louisville if elected. So I am excited to see what companies Mayor Fischer brings to Louisville! Where’s the crystal ball when you need one!
Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian (www.DayByDayNutrition.com) who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years.