Vote for Louisville as National Geographic Traveler’s Best Trips of 2014

National Geographic Traveler MagazineThis week above any, our region and the great city of Louisville sure do shine, but let’s make that spotlight even brighter.

We’re happy to share that Louisville is in the running to make the list of Best Trips of 2014 by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. Now we need everyone to get out and vote! You have until Friday, May 3 to nominate Louisville as your favorite travel destination.

Simply click here and tell the editors of National Geographic Traveler Magazine why Louisville deserves a spot on the list. All eyes are on Louisville this week as our city gears up for Derby, and what better time than now to draw even more attention to the city’s culture, arts scene, cuisine, great outdoor attractions, and of course sports!

The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, May 3. Help us in spreading the word about our great city!


image credit: National Geographic 

From Rail to Trail—Big Four Bridge Opens to Pedestrians and Bicyclers

Big Four Bridge openingIt’s a project that has been in the works for more than two decades for the Waterfront Development Corp., but now the vision has become a reality. The Big Four Bridge that formerly served as a railroad bridge, officially opened to pedestrians and bicyclers today, February 7, 2013. This monumental development serves as a tremendous effort to connect the region between Louisville and Jeffersonville, Indiana, and to promote health and wellness.

Waterfront Development Corp. Executive Director David Karem said that this is “clearly the most anticipated project of Waterfront Park.”

The bridge originally got its name in 1895 from the railroad cities that were serviced through this railroad bridge—Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis—but a train hasn’t chugged across this bridge since the late 1960s.

Work on the Louisville side totaled $12 million to convert the railroad bridge to a cross-river bridge. The Indiana ramp, which is still under construction, has an estimated cost of $10 million. New cables for light installation were added along with metal benches, control boxes, and finishing wire for lights extending the Kentucky-side ramp.

Although Karem said that this 2,525 foot long bridge may still undergo some “fine tuning,” it is ready for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

The informal ceremony this morning was presided over by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore. A dedication service is planned for mid-2013 when the Jeffersonville approach to the bridge is complete.

Pedestrians and bicyclers will have direct access to the bridge 24 hours a day, except on special occasions. What a great opportunity to connect and explore our region on both sides of the river! Hope to see on the Big 4!


image courtesy of Mayor Greg Fischer 

Skating in a Winter Wonderland: Discover Outdoor Ice skating Adventures in Kentucky and Southern Indiana

Louisville iceskatingThe spirit of the season is beaming this year, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than outdoor ice skating? Families in our region can enjoy several outdoor ice skating wonderlands, including a brand new rink in downtown Louisville.

Louisville’s new outdoor skating rink, smack in the middle of Fourth Street Live, has the area all a buzz. Enjoy the crisp air of winter as you glide across this new attraction for the residents of our region.

The rink is made of synthetic ice which will ensure complete availability throughout the holiday season, even if temperatures drop below freezing. For a romantic evening with your sweetie or just a stroll around for some exercise, the ice skating rink at Fourth Street Live is a must see.

Hours of operation:
Sunday, 11:30-8:00 pm
Monday – Thursday, 11:30-9:00 p.m.
Friday — Saturday 11:30-Midnight

The cost is $5 for adults for one hour, $3 for children under 18. Daily rates are $10 and season passes are $40. If you need to rent skates, bring an extra $2.

Just across the river another Winter Wonderland awaits on the corner of Spring and Market Streets in Jeffersonville, Indiana. After a successful 2011 year and more than 10,000 skaters, Jeffersonville’s outdoor rink will re-open to the public.

You can skate with Santa on Sundays from 1-4 p.m., or make Tuesday nights local nights as kids can skate for $4 with a local Jeffersonville merchant receipt.

Until December 21, skaters can glide around:
Sunday – Thursday, 4:00-8:00 pm
Friday & Saturday, 12:00-9:00 p.m.

  • The rink is opened on Christmas Eve from 12-4, but closed on Christmas day. After January 6, the rink will only be open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Friday will be teen night with a DJ from 7-10 p.m.
  • Join the festive fun on December 22 as we celebrate with an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.” Get $2 off admission if you wear an ugly sweater.

Skating in Jeffersonville will run you:

  • $8 per person
  • 6 for a group of 10 or more
  • Get a $2 discount if you bring your own skates.

Take advantage of our local outdoor fun and skate the night away in Louisville or in Jeffersonville.

Fostering “Intrapreneurship” – Leadership Louisville Part II

Over the years I’ve often heard people talk about how the corporate culture stymies creativity and new ideas, and how companies lose their most talented people in pursuit of more innovative opportunities. Well, in our region there are employers doing just the opposite.

The Kentucky Indiana Exchange (Kix) has long sought to showcase the great entrepreneurial spirit of our region, but what about the “intrapreneurial” spirit of our employers? Maybe it’s a concept that some of you are aware of, but it was unknown to me until a recent visit to Signature HealthCARE as a member of the 2013 class of Leadership Louisville.

Signature Healthcare When we arrived for our monthly gathering, we were given the opportunity to select one of several regional employers, and I chose Signature. I had heard so much about the company — the decision its leaders made to move the headquarters to the region; the work they were doing with the University of Louisville to foster innovation and business start-ups in the long-term care industry; and about their leader, CEO Joe Steier, a Louisville native who guided the company’s move to Kentucky.

We spent much of the morning with our host Joe Barimo, the VP of Corporate Learning. His passion for the company was quite apparent. We then visited with what seemed to be the entire senior leadership team, including Joe Steier. We had a terrific exchange, learning about the company, their move to Louisville and Signature’s three organizational pillars – Learning, Spirituality and Intrapreneurship. Learning and Spirituality were certainly two concepts with which I was familiar, but not “Intrapreneurship.”

It’s the idea of acting like an entrepreneur within a larger organization where employees are expected to be innovative, to take risk and pursue the development of innovative products or services within the company. This style of management allows the employees to feel as if they’re part of something bigger, as well as something they have a stake in. Traits like conviction, zeal and insight are encouraged. As a result, employees become more likely to try the kinds of approaches they might take if they were running their own business. The end result can be a breakthrough technology or a new and profitable product line.

To some, particularly in a region where individuals and imaginations are thriving, it might seem like a “no-brainer.” For me, it was another great Leadership Louisville experience.

I can hardly wait to see what’s next. Till then…

Beth Avey is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Indiana Exchange

GLI Announces New President

GLI President Richard CraigThe Kix team would like to congratulate Craig J. Richard, Greater Louisville Inc.’s new President & CEO.

Craig comes to GLI from the Greater Houston Partnership where he has been serving as its Chief Economic Development Officer since 2008. He will officially begin his position as GLI’s new President & CEO on January 7, 2013.

His strong leadership experience and track record of economic development success makes him the perfect candidate to lead GLI’s growth strategies. In a phone interview with the Courier Journal, Richard said, “In the chamber world, Louisville is one of those top notch organizations that people admire. I had to leap at the opportunity.”

His background includes experience in economic development and chamber leadership, and he has held past positions with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Greater Dallas and Arlington, Texas Chambers of Commerce.

Craig holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Houston and Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the Virginia Commonwealth University. He is also a Certified Economic Developer from the International Economic Development Council.

Kix looks forward to having Craig join our board of directors and help our region continue to grow and prosper.

Doing the Right Thing 2012

Doing the right thing youth expoThis Saturday, September 22, 2012, the Louisville Urban League and Fourth Street Live will be hosting the 12th annual “Doing the Right Thing” Youth Expo. This is an event for the whole family to showcase Louisville’s super youth services by addressing youth achievement and access to resources while celebrating youth who are “doing the right thing.” The Louisville Urban League Mission is to assist African Americans, other minority groups, and the disadvantaged to attain social and economic equality and stability through direct services and advocacy. This organization has been active in our community since 1921 and has provided services to more than 12,000 annually. This will be the 12th “Doing the Right Thing” Youth Expo and is one of many ways in which the Louisville Urban League brings local youth together to increase pride and appreciation for student achievement.

This year’s expo will exhibit booths promoting opportunities for youth and families to get more involved locally in activities that reflect the idea of “Doing the Right Thing.” The celebration also features a “Doing the Right Thing” Oratorical Competition which is a public speaking contest designed to inspire and motivate youth to be actively engaged in key civic affairs. Exceptional individuals or youth groups will be publically recognized at this event for their actions, attitude, and ideas that inspire their peers to act in accordance with the theme of the expo. For your entertainment, there will be a “Louisville’s Got Talent” Showcase featuring talented youth and youth groups who present positive, up-lifting performances. There is sure to be something for everyone since choirs, musicians, artists, singers, poets, dancers, rappers, and a variety of performers will be featured.

The event takes place from 12:00 to 4:00 at Fourth Street Live this Saturday. Everyone is invited to come early to participate in the Walk to Defeat Childhood Obesity at 9:00 a.m. For more information, contact Craig Walker at or at (502) 566-3380.


Idea Festival Starts Tomorrow

IdeaFestivalThe KIX team will be in Louisville this week, along with hundreds of other creative thinkers, for IdeaFestivalUSA Today reports, “Since 2000, IdeaFestival has brought together some of the world’s biggest thinkers and innovators for a series of presentations that span topics in the arts, technology, science, philosophy, education and business.”

The four-day festival kicks off tomorrow morning at 8:30 with Thrivals 5.0. This session is all about venturing into the unknown. Thrivals 5.0 & the Wondaland Arts Society will present “questors”- people who have actually dared to leave the known limits of their world and have ventured into an unknown and dangerous realm, where the rules and limits are not known, returning as our heroes.

Some of the notable speakers that you’ll see at this year’s IdeaFestival include:

  • Cynthia Lowen The co-filmmaker of Bully, a feature documentary following a “year in the life” of America’s bullying crisis, which she developed, produced, and wrote in partnership with Emmy and Sundance Award-winning director Lee Hirsch.
  • Peter Sims Entrepreneur, VC, and author explores how small discoveries, actions of “experimental innovation” can lead to breakthroughs ideas. His latest book is called Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.
  • Maurice Ashley The first African-American International Grandmaster in
    2009, a three-time national chess championship coach, two-time author, iPhone app producer, puzzle inventor, DVD creator, ESPN commentator, and motivational speaker.

You can view the complete four-day schedule and speaker list online and purchase tickets through the website. Many of the events are already sold out, so you better act fast!

As our region works to become the Idea Capital of the World, IdeaFestival allows for creative thinking and collaboration with others who share the same vision. We’ll be onsite for the event, so look for our follow up blog about our experience at IdeaFestival in the next couple weeks.

Novak Talks Talent, Culture and Growth at “What’s Brewing”

Taking people with youThere are thousands of make-it-happen, problem-solving CEOs guiding businesses and influencing economies across the world with a variety of leadership styles. Our region is home to Chief Executive magazine’s “CEO of the Year,” David Novak, president and CEO of Yum! Brands Inc. Novak recently joined Business First publisher Tom Monahan and a group of local business leaders to discuss the importance of recognizing people, his dedication to creating a great corporate culture and being on the ground floor of global growth.

Attracting talent to Louisville is not an issue for Yum! Brands. According to Novak, “You can get great people if you have the right business, culture and leadership.” Novak says that people want to work for companies that have growth, recognized brands and a heart. He proudly noted that no other company has people like those who make up the team at Yum! “Our people are smart and nice, and that’s the key to our success,” Novak said. He personally coaches approximately 100 people in the company.

Yum! is known for its emphasis on public recognition and rewarding people. Novak’s office is covered with photos of people who have been recognized within the company. The special culture he built at KFC was one of the reasons Novak decided to keep the corporate headquarters for Yum! Brands (then Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc.) in Louisville when KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell spun off from PepsiCo in 1997. He wanted people to see the example that KFC was setting for the rest of the world. “It works everywhere,” he said, “and people told me it wouldn’t.”

Yum! executives made another key decision in 1997 to focus on international growth, and it has paid off. Emerging markets currently make up 60 percent of the company’s profits. With business booming in countries like China, India and Russia and 600 stores in Africa, Novak stressed the importance of local talent and the huge opportunities that exist in international markets. “We are so global, we think we can teach others,” Novak said. “We want to be the defining company for how you do that.”

Novak recently released a new book entitled, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen, to teach others his approach to leading a great organization. All of the proceeds from the book go to the United Nations World Food Programme as part of Yum!’s commitment to fight world hunger. The company has raised $120 million in the last 10 years for its hunger relief effort, including $10 million locally for the Dare to Care Food Bank.

Be sure to get the full story on Novak’s one-on-one with Tom Monahan in the Septemeber 14 issue of Busines First.

image courtesy of

Fischer Launches Vision Louisville

Leadership LouisvilleThe highly anticipated 2012 Leadership Louisville Luncheon, held in partnership with the Leadership Louisville Center and the Office of the Mayor, brought together nearly 1,000 community leaders in business, government, nonprofits and civic engagement from the region.

The event centered around building a stronger community and a challenge from Mayor Greg Fischer to local leaders to start thinking about what Louisville will look like in 25 years.

The goal of Fischer’s 25-year vision initiative, named Vision Louisville, is to get people to collaborate and talk about ideas for a vibrant and prosperous future. He encouraged Louisvillians to think boldly about the look, feel and flow of the city. The upcoming IdeaFestival in September will be one of the first opportunities to provide input and ideas can also be shared at

“We have plenty of resources if we engage each other in citizenship,” Fischer said. While there are community issues to be addressed today, the mayor encouraged citizens to alson look forward. “If we aren’t thinking about the future, we aren’t doing our job.”

The Honorable Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento and former NBA All-Star, shared how his vision and a passion for education inspired “Sacramento READS!” Johnson launched the ten-year literacy campaign with a goal of making Sacramento the first city in the country to have every third grader reading on grade level.

“You cannot have a great city without great schools – make sure that public education is a top priority,” Johnson encouraged.

Leadership Louisville Fischer will be pushing for a local option sales to help finance big ideas that emerge from Vision Louisville, which will require an amendment to the state constitution.

The planning team responsible for Vision Louisville brings together local, national and international talent, including Space Group, based in Oslo, Norway, and a New York City design studio called 2×4. Matthew Barzun and Maria Hampton will co-chair the effort.

The Leadership Louisville Luncheon was moderated by Joe Arnold of WHAS and presented by LG&E and KU Energy LLC.


From Louisville to London, Athletes from our Region are Realizing their Dreams

Paralympic Games in LondonThe 2012 Olympic games have come to a close, but after an exciting few weeks of competition, viewers can look forward to another round of fierce tournaments when London plays host to the Paralympics Games starting on Wednesday, August 29.

This year, Louisville has a favored olympian we’ll be cheering on, Dennis Ogbe. Not only is he the top ranked American and U.S. champion in both shot put and discus classifications, he’s also a favorite for the 2012 London Games.

Dennis is originally from Nigeria and has a truly inspiring story of strength, determination, and courageousness. At age three he contracted Malaria and when a nurse accidentally broke a needle in his back, he was in a coma for several days. When he woke up from the coma, he contracted Polio which left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Through hard work and the encouragement of a friend, Dennis was able to regain the strength of his right leg, learning to walk on his own, run, and eventually compete in Olympic events.

Dennis came to the United States on a sports scholarship and holds a Bachelors and M.B.A. from Bellarmine University. At Bellarmine, he competed against able-bodied athletes in discus, shot put, and javelin.

Dennis competed for his native Nigeria at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, but decided his next goal would be to represent the United States at international competition. Ogbe officially became an American citizen in 2010 and he competed for Team USA for the first time at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On his website, Dennis described what it means to represent team USA in London: “I am so proud to be an American, I cannot even find the words to describe the feeling. Having kits (uniforms) with the USA logo on them from the U.S. Paralympic Committee are so special, I wear them with great respect and pride.”

The men’s track and field competition begins on August 31. Times are subjet to change so be sure to check out the official Paralympic website for the most updated schedule.

We can’t wait to watch Dennis compete in the Paralympic games and wish him the best of luck as he reaches his goals and realizes his dreams!