LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As offices sit empty at near record levels, and some buildings remain boarded up after protests, leaders are discussing the future of downtown Louisville. 

Some leaders at the Louisville Forum on Wednesday believe things are heading in the right direction, but the perception of the city is what needs to change. 

"It's about bringing people down here, and, honestly, I'd say keep doing what we're doing," said Brad Keller, workplace strategy leader at Humana. "I think a lot of these events are drawing people in. There is a perception that there may be unsafe environments downtown. I think it's a misperception as somebody who's worked down here throughout a lot of the pandemic. I feel completely safe."

"Yes there are things that happen that aren't ideal. That's in any big city, you're going to have that," responded Rebecca Fleischaker, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership. "But how do we react to that and how do we work together to promote it and be able to bring people together as a community, as a society?"

Keller believes a solution to bringing people back downtown is through big events and conventions. 

"It will be kind of a cycle where as you bring more people in, the restaurants thrive, more people feel that vibrancy to come downtown, more workers want to come back and be a part of that vibrancy," Keller said.

"So I think it's kind of an easy button that we have right now. To really create that energy in our spaces."

One CEO is attendance thought the discussion was good on Wednesday, but hopes to see more focus on making downtown more attractive to small retailers and businesses. 

"Shopping — that's really a magnet," Signal.csk Brand Partners CEO Cheryl Farr said. "Those arts and cultural events that really make it a place to be, but not only a place to be, but a unique place to be in the whole Louisville experience." 

Among the different ideas, the one constant belief was in the potential in downtown Louisville. 

"Watching everybody invest in it, and to be part of that investment is just something that makes me really happy," Farr said. 

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