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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city of Louisville is gambling more than $1 million on an effort to attract jobs to a part of town that badly needs them.
The city has purchased an abandoned 30-acre piece of land to try and bring jobs to West Louisville. The property is the former home of the National Tobacco company. City officials are hoping to use it to light up the economy of West Louisville
It is 30 acres of crumbling concrete, twisted steel and overgrown weeds. But city officials hope it's just what a major employer needs - a prime piece of inner city real estate, close to both railway and highway. That's why the city has spent $1.2 million to purchase the property.
"This is a major milestone for West Louisville economic development," said Dist. 5 Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton.
Hamilton says the lack of a large tract of land in west Louisville has been a barrier to attracting a major employer.
"It's been an obstacle but it's not an obstacle any longer, so we want to welcome everybody to west Louisville."
Headliners Barber Shop is a popular spot for cuts and conversation in the Shawnee neighborhood. Today there was much talk about the possibility of new jobs.
"That would be the best thing. That's needed around here, more jobs. So, it's a good thing - a real good thing," said west end resident Robert Sarver.
Owner Eric Rice is hoping the city's move will eventually help not just his business but the entire community.
"More people will come around in the neighborhood, come in this barbershop and spend money; go to the bank next door to cash their checks, to the grocery store just down the street, the Shawnee Market and get groceries, and it will really help the economy," he said.
But buying this property may have been the easy part. Now the city must attract a business that needs lots of new workers. The city says it plans to aggressively market the space. Folks who live nearby hope whoever moves in will be a good neighbor.
"All business is not good business," said Antonio Dennis, who lives nearby. "As long as it promotes goodness. We already have enough negativity coming up on us in the West End."
Hamilton says the city does indeed want to attract the right kind of industry.
"Anything that's non-polluting. We're looking for light industrial, light manufacturing, those kinds of jobs."
Mayor Greg Fischer says the purchase is a key component of his long-range plan for West Louisville. Hamilton says the timing is perfect. She has already spent one-million dollars to begin development of nearby W. Market Street.