Louisville is “ready, nimble” and poised in the next for years for “unprecedented investment,” Mayor Greg Fischer said on Thursday in his annual State of the City address.
Fischer said a steady stream of investments—from the recent announcement of the Omni Hotel development and a federal grant to begin the revitalization process for the Russell neighborhood—are key to advancing the city.
He also introduced a new Cradle to Career initiative that will focus primarily on supporting education and workforce development.
Fischer addressed nearly 290 Downtown Rotary Club members at the newly opened Southwest Regional Library in Valley Station. For the first time, the State of the City was given outside of the Watterson Expressway, according to the mayor’s office.
The Cradle to Career initiative will focus on boosting kindergarten readiness, promoting success in kindergarten through grade 12, continuing progress towards the 55,000 Degrees initiative and developing clear pathways from school to work, Fischer said.
He said the Cradle to Career initiative is a “broad-ranging approach to build a skilled and savvy workforce and to ensure all of our citizens, in every zip code, can succeed.” But he said improving kindergarten readiness will be the most difficult part of the initiative because of a lack of federal and state funding.
Less than a third of Louisville residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census. Louisville’s unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fischer said pushed for the revitalization of Jefferson County’s westernmost neighborhoods. He said such revitalization was in the works with the potential development of a new Wal-Mart and YMCA on West Broadway.
Another aspect in need of revitalization is Dixie Highway, one of the deadliest roadways for motorists in the U.S., Fischer said.
Fischer, who this month began his second term, also took the opportunity to tout his support and plea for community-wide backing of House Bill 1, which, if approved in state legislature, would give residents the ability to vote to implement a local option sales tax.
“You decide your own fate,” Fischer said of the local option, which would be time-limited sales taxes for specific projects. The mayor has been a vocal supporter of the local option in recent years.
On numerous occasions, Fischer has said the tax could help fund the 100-mile Louisville Loop and the westward expansion of the Waterfront Park.
He said a city cannot gauge its success on a year-by-year basis. He said a city must be compared to other cities in order to see where it stands on the scale of improvement and investment.
“All of us have something to invest,” he said.
In addition to the people attending Fischer’s address, a number of people were present to simply visit the library.
Michael Martin was one of them. A Valley Station resident, Martin said he had already heard most of what the mayor said “on TV.”
“Creating jobs, that’s good, that’s what everybody wants,” he said. “But it’ll probably take a while. It won’t happen real quick.”