By: Kent Oyler, President & CEO
of Greater Louisville Inc.
I’ve always told folks that you won’t know how far you’ve
come until you take a moment to gaze back to where you started. For me, it has
been a little over two years since I leapt blindly into the chamber world and a
blur of activity that I’ve found thoroughly invigorating. Indulge me in a quick look back.
GLI is an organization that has and must always innovate
and evolve, and that’s exactly what we’ve been up to. With my chairs, board,
and staff, we have worked tirelessly to reinvent GLI and focus it squarely on
the most important issues we can impact: regionalism, talent, entrepreneurship,
education, policy, connections. And it seems to be working. Since June of 2014 GLI has:
- Added 436 new members, including 43 new $3000+ top
- Reigned in costs, rationalized events, streamlined
operations, and returned our private sector investments to 10-year highs.
- Built a strong and experienced staff that buys into our
mission 100%. We’ve had zero staff
turnover in the past six months and the team's morale is high, as measured
by our employee surveys.
- Executed true regionalism with 16 county and city
partners in two states signed on to the Advance Greater Louisville regional business attraction partnership.
- Secured 3 new non-stop flights with OneJet and just
launched a major effort to attract LAX and BOS non-stop service through
the Regional Air Coalition.
- Put on 183 major events and recorded back-to-back
record-setting Annual Meetings featuring GE/Electrolux and
Humana/Aetna. Annual Meeting
remains the largest business networking event of the year.
- Executed phenomenal GLIDE trips to Charlotte and
Portland. Our next stop, Austin, is
sold-out. Did I say ‘sold-out’?
First time ever for GLIDE trip.
- Renovated our governance with new expectations, more
board committees, higher engagement, and a 'waiting list' serve on our
- Reestablished GLI with the media as the ‘go-to’ source
for all things business and built a strong presence in social media which
we use to help promote our investors.
- Entirely reconstructed our public policy apparatus that
now wields serious clout on the local, state, and federal levels. Here's what we accomplished this year. With this business-backed strength we've helped push
the JCPS school board onto a line of progress, affected dozens of KY
legislative wins, and returned to DC with our annual fly-in.
- Reinvigorated the entrepreneurially-focused EnterpriseCorp and created an innovative new strategy for advancing
the entrepreneurial ecosystem by refocusing start-ups on customer
- Developed a comprehensive talent attraction and
retention strategy aimed at altering the trajectory of our region's
skilled workforce, including our Global Louisville partnership with Metro.
list isn't a complete list by any means, but it does reflect what I believe to
be some notable wins for GLI, and importantly for our 1500+ investors, 94 board
members, and 32 staffers. We don’t claim 'mission accomplished' (hey, we are just getting started)
however, real and tangible progress has been made at GLI over the past two
years. I'm proud of what we have collectively accomplished.
my humble opinion, all GLI members, and the community as a whole should cheer
the resurgence of the region's most influential and vital business organization.
We are voice of the business community on critical issues and
initiatives. We recognize that GLI isn’t simply our region’s chamber
of commerce, as important as that is, GLI is Greater Louisville's catalyst for
transformational change. And when we partner for change with our friends
in the public sector, we are able to affect positive change not only for our
member businesses but for the entire region.
I approach a prospective investor in GLI, I don't lead with the many benefits
and perks that easily justify membership; I lead with our mission of
accelerating regional economic growth, job creation and business
competitiveness. Raising the tide, making the pie bigger -- pick your metaphor -- GLI exists to help our
investors and our entire region GROW
it’s been a busy two years and I’ve relished this brief look backwards. But now I choose to look forward, where I see
a bright future for GLI and Greater Louisville.