A new downtown revitalization team created by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer counts numerous business and community leaders among its ranks.
The city this week unveiled the full list of members and the steering committee for the new group, which is tasked with creating an action plan to aid downtown’s rebound from the effects of Covid-19. The pandemic has hurt downtown business and foot traffic because of mass remote working and the loss of events.
The new group held its first meeting this week and is made up of dozens of community representatives from the business, tourism and arts and culture sectors; local institutions; metro government agencies; and downtown residents.
The team is co-chaired by Mariah Gratz, CEO of Weyland Ventures, and Douglas Edwards, senior vice president of workplace experience at Humana Inc.
Other steering committee members include Doug Owen of JLL Louisville, Sarah Davasher-Wisdom of Greater Louisville Inc., Tawana Bain of Global Economic Diversity Development Initiative (GEDDI), Cleo Battle of Louisville Tourism, Matt Ayers of Norton Healthcare Inc., Louisville Metro Councilman Jecorey Arthur, Gabriell Gassaway of Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness and Downtown resident Dan Hartlage, principal at Guthrie/Mayes Public Relations. You can find the full list of team members here.
The group also is supported by the leadership of Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development arm, and the Louisville Downtown Partnership.
Gratz said by phone that the team’s first meeting this week focused on gathering everyone’s opinions on the state of Downtown, what Downtown needs and how the city can move forward.
A meeting schedule for the revitalization team has not been finalized, but Gratz said the steering committee hopes to meet once every two weeks. The group and its dozens of members will also break into smaller subcommittees.
“We wanted to structure the sub-committees … around the goals we came up with for the team,” she said.
Gratz said the group hopes to have an action plan by May, but some short-term goals identified by the members could be enacted sooner. She envisions a mix of short-term, medium-term and long-term goals will be developed.
Gratz noted her firm has been based Downtown for more than two decades, and she remembers a time when Downtown was quiet after 5 p.m. A vibrant Downtown, she added, is needed for a strong community.
“Having that strong central business district is vital to a community and a city,” she said, adding she wants to bring Downtown back to pre-pandemic levels and beyond.
“We need to make sure the heart of our city is an inclusive place where everyone feels comfortable and everyone is part of the vibrancy,” she said.
Fischer announced the formation of the team last month, and it is an open committee, meaning more members can join.
“Prior to the pandemic, Louisville was thriving with record tourism numbers and new investment flowing into Downtown. It is important that we position ourselves to take advantage of our city’s unique assets as we look to rebuild and to include everyone,” Fischer said.
See Louisville Business First’s article here.