Greg Fischer Brings Louisville Together
No DMO can go it alone. Whether you are partnering with other government officials, community groups, or constituents, your ideas need support to become reality. Louisville, KY Mayor Greg Fischer has made jobs, education, and compassion the three pillars of his administration. But the real hallmark of his term has been bringing people into the fold to realize these goals. Meet Greg Fischer, our DMO of the Month this February.
Louisville Forward is the heart of Mayor Fischer's economic strategy, and showcases his talent at welcoming partners to the table. The program is designed to integrate government, real estate management, workers, and employers into a streamlined effort focusing on job growth and livability. For instance, the initiative connects fledgling businesses with micro-loan opportunities, granting new entrepreneurs access to startup capital. Another component of Louisville Forward is the Nia Center (Nia means ‘purpose’ in Swahili), which offers small business counseling, financial assistance, GED classes, and job placement facilitators. These efforts have led to the creation 3,500 jobs since Louisville Forward's inception.
Regional compacts between cities have been growing in popularity. Working with partners at the local level means not having to wait for innovation to come from state or federal government. Mayor Fischer teamed up with Lexington’s Mayor Jim Gray for the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM). This regional economic compact concentrates on increasing exports and advancing small businesses. Local governments like Louisville are multiplying their economic impact by coordinating with other cities on areas of shared strength.
Rethinking our approach to education traditionally hits a stumbling block when different institutions need to cooperate. We see the alternative in Mayor Fischer, who has partnered with a slew of businesses, community organizations, and educational institutions to graduate an additional 55,000 career-ready college students by 2020. Mayor Fischer also started a “Cradle to Career” initiative that goes further in establishing specific learning goals at all levels of the education process. Another coalition including Jefferson County Public Schools and the United Metro Way built a directory of educational summer programs, with the Mayor’s office providing free entrance for young people through Cultural Passes. The result is a more complete education system, benefiting from integration among groups coming together on the same cause.
The third pillar of Mayor Fischer’s Louisville is one seldom explicitly listed in municipal goals: compassion. The One Love Louisville project seeks to make explicit the compassion that often lies covert in municipal initiatives. Among other aims it works at curing social ills, growing citizen activists, and establishing a better relationship between citizens and the justice system. The Mayor’s Office sponsors the “Give A Day” week of service, encouraging residents to donate blood, food, or their time on behalf of their communities. Another step forward is the Citizen’s Bill of Rights, which enumerates that Louisville’s government exists to serve the people, and provide them with access, transparency, honesty, and results-focused service. While compassion might come across as a lofty ideal when your office is busy filling potholes, Mayor Fischer presents an opportunity to realign government's approach to constituent services.
Apathy and pessimism about government are common symptoms of having no first-hand contact with local officials. Without those personal experiences, people are inclined to lump you in with the assumption that most politicians are corrupt and disinterested in helping them. Mayor Fischer creates space for everyone to get to know his values, from other government officials, to community organizations, to voters. Uniting jobs, education, and compassion, he makes clear the sincerity of his service. Our DMO of the Month for February brings Louisville together in a celebration of moving forward as one city.
Greg Fischer began his service as Louisville’s mayor in 2011, and was sworn to his second term in 2015. He is currently a trustee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Fischer’s leadership and commitment to community service earned him Governing Magazine’s “Public Official of the Year” award in 2013.