Leaders say 'Respect the West' when it comes to economic develop - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Leaders say 'Respect the West' when it comes to economic development

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Some say, while West Louisville does desperately need jobs, they should not come at any cost. Some say, while West Louisville does desperately need jobs, they should not come at any cost.
The methane plant, which was to be built at 17th and Maple, is the third recent economic development project either canceled or delayed because of concerns from west Louisville residents. The methane plant, which was to be built at 17th and Maple, is the third recent economic development project either canceled or delayed because of concerns from west Louisville residents.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Respect the west and, at the same time, create much-needed jobs.

With the proposed west Louisville methane plant now canceled, some are asking what happened and what can be learned in terms of economic development in the community.

The methane plant, which was to be built at 17th and Maple, is the third recent economic development project either canceled or delayed because of concerns from west Louisville residents.

The company now known as STAR BioEnergy had originally planned to build two methane plants in west Louisville, one at the Food Port at 30th and Muhammad Ali and the second at 17th and Maple.

Both were met with angry protests from activists and residents concerned about health, safety and the environmental impact. Both projects were ultimately scrapped.

“A lot of people felt like it was something that the city was trying to ram down their down their throat,” said Rev. Milton Seymore of the Justice Resource Center.

Seymore says, while West Louisville does desperately need jobs, they should not come at any cost.

“We're not good enough to get the real good jobs, but they want to bring the trash and the garbage to the west end. That's what the people saw,” he said.

Seymore says, going forward, developers and city leaders should engage west end residents early in the process. Mayor Greg Fischer agrees.

“Start involving all of the stakeholders earlier in your project, to make sure there's the kind of support that will ultimately make that project successful,” Fischer told WDRB News.

Fischer says he's not concerned that companies might think twice about locating in west Louisville.

Seymore says he's not so sure.

He points not to the canceled methane plants, but to the continuing delay of the west end Walmart, which has been stalled by lawsuits challenging its design.

“If Walmart walks away from the table, I believe that's going to shut us down for another 10-15 years because you won't have they type of people that want to invest in our community,” said Seymore.

“They've said that they're committed to that project, so we're thankful for that,” said Fischer.

But the mayor says there are lessons to be learned from the hits and the misses in west Louisville.

“I think what it says is you need to have a thoughtful development approach to each one of the projects,” he said.

Some west Louisville leaders say part of the solution is more diversity on the boards and commissions that must approve projects early on.

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