Summit focuses on growing businesses, jobs in West Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Summit focuses on growing businesses, jobs in West Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- How to grow businesses and jobs in West Louisville: that's the subject of an economic summit being held this weekend.

It's a question that does not have a simple answer.

The consensus is it will take government, schools, churches and private business all working together to create economic growth.

The Great Northern company manufactures and distributes specialized construction products. It's one of the fastest-growing companies in Louisville. And it's located in the west end.

Why the decision to move into an abandoned bakery at 15th & Breckinridge?

"It was just a good business decision, really nothing more complicated than that," said co-owner Neville Blakemore.

Blakemore took advantage of special tax credits for businesses that locate in depressed areas.

"An opportunity to work in the West End was attractive to us, but if the economic incentive was not there, if the New Market Tax credit was not there, we wouldn't have done it," said Blakemore.

Blakemore and others shared their ideas at an economic summit sponsored by the Louisville African American Initiative.

"Some of the challenges that have to do with economic development in the West End have to do not with resources but will. That is, making economic development in the West End a priority," said F. Bruce Williams, pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church.

The panelists agreed, part of the solution is government helping to create a climate for economic growth, including tax incentives, infrastructure and land acquisition.

"We're very positive that we're going to be able to acquire a very large parcel of land that will be ripe for development," said David Morris of Louisville Metro government.

But as important as government investment may be, the panelists agree the West End must also invest in itself.

"My perspective about the whole piece of economic development is what we do for ourselves, as African Americans, and not what we're looking for other people to do for us," said Walter Malone, pastor of Canaan Christian Church.

Canaan Christian Church has taken the lead in creating partnerships with private business to provide educational and economic opportunities.

"We cannot change our community individually, but we can change it collectively. And the focus should be not on what we don't have, but the focus should be on the utilization of what we do have," said Malone.

The conference wraps up Saturday afternoon. But organizers hope the ideas exchanged will have a permanent impact in West Louisville.

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