Mayor Unveils Top 10 Accomplishments of 2008
Monday December 29, 2008
City moved forward, despite economy, Abramson says
From being named one of America’s Most Livable Cities and hosting the international Ryder Cup to overcoming the worst windstorm in 30 years, 2008 was a year of challenges and progress for Louisville, Mayor Jerry Abramson said today.
“Despite all the tough challenges we faced this year, and there were many, we still moved Louisville ahead,” Abramson said as he unveiled his list of the Top 10 projects and events for 2008. “Construction on the arena started, Ford announced a major investment in our city and we moved our City of Parks plan forward.”
The Mayor’s Top 10:
- New cars and trucks — Ford announced that it would invest at least $200 million to re-tool the Louisville Assembly Plant to build a new fuel-efficient car for the American market. Ford also announced it would move production of the Navigator and Expedition to the Kentucky Truck Plant.
- Overcoming adversity — From natural disasters to the economic downturn, the city faced numerous challenges. The city hosted 1,200 evacuees from Hurricane Ike and, weeks later, a major windstorm knocked out power to more than 300,000 LG&E customers for days. A major economic downturn also required more than $30 million city budget cuts over two fiscal years – $13 million in early 2008 and $20 million in late 2008. The cuts were achieved without laying off city workers or major reductions in city services.
- A sports city — Louisville’s reputation as a sports center continued to grow, after hosting the 2008 Ryder Cup, viewed by 600 million people worldwide. The city also hosted its second Ford Ironman Competition and landed the Breeders Cup for a return engagement at Churchill Downs in 2010.
- Best in America — Louisville won numerous national accolades, including:
- America’s Most Livable Large City, U.S. Conference of Mayors
- One of America’s Most Improved Cities for Cycling, Bicycling Magazine
- One of America’s Best Towns, Outside Magazine
- America’s Best Tasting Water, American Water Works Association
- Downtown growth — Construction began on the new $238 million downtown arena and the city completed the deal to expand Fourth Street Live with the Center City project, which will create 1,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs. Downtown’s newest high-rise, Zirmed Gateway Towers, started construction. West Main Street was named one of America’s 10 Greatest Streets by the American Planning Association.
- Improving the environment — The city launched its Go Green Louisville initiative that includes the first green roof on a city-owned building, at the Metro Development Center, and the Kilowatt Crackdown to lower energy use in 230 buildings, including schools. Mayor Abramson fueled the movement by switching to a Ford Escape hybrid for his work vehicle. By the close of 2008, the number of ENERGY STAR buildings doubled, from 5 to 10.
- Creating new parks – The City of Parks initiative reached another major milestone – the opening of the first 25 miles of the 100-mile Louisville Loop. The city also purchased land in the Floyds Fork area for the greenway parks project, including a 98-acre walnut farm.
- Improving public safety – The city’s focus of safety continued with major investments in state-of-the-art equipment and buildings that improve public safety including:
- Twelve new communication towers were built or upgraded for the MetroSafe radio communications system, which will open in summer 2009.
- Two new firehouses, one in Butchertown/Clifton and one in Portland, are under construction as part of the city’s 21st Century Fire plan. They will open in early 2009.
- All of the city’s EMS vehicles have been equipped with handheld computers, called ePCRs, which record and disseminate patient information to hospitals in real time so doctors can begin treatment as soon as the patient arrives.
- More visitors – The FFA Convention announced it would return to Louisville, starting in 2013. The convention, one of the largest in the nation, attracts 55,000 people and has an economic impact of $40 million. Tourism in Louisville had $1.4 billion in economic impact in 2008.
- Better students — The city, in partnership with Greater Louisville Inc. and Jefferson County Public Schools, achieved its plan to raise $8 million to improve reading scores with the Every 1 Reads initiative. The city also reached its goal of 10,000 volunteers to read to students in their classrooms. When the initiative began, 18 percent of students – nearly one in five — were not reading at their grade level. That percent has been cut by more than half. The city and school system also hosted a Dropout Summit to lay plans for reducing the high school dropout rate in Louisville.