Economic Growth and Innovation Newsroom


Economic Development Department Gets New Name, New Director

Wednesday January 11, 2012

The city’s Economic Development Department will be reorganized to focus its resources on innovation, global outreach, entrepreneurship, sustainability and advanced planning for the city, Mayor Greg Fischer announced today.

Fischer also announced a new name for the agency — the Department of Economic Growth and Innovation — and he appointed Ted Smith as its new director. Smith is currently Director of Innovation but will merge his current role with the new role beginning immediately.

“The world is changing at a rapid pace and the ways of conducting economic development are changing. We need to change with it, too,” Fischer said. “This reorganization allows us to focus more clearly on our economic development opportunities while helping shape our future from a sustainability and planning perspective.”

The new focus is the result of a year-long review of the Economic Development Department by Margaret Handmaker, who until Dec. 1 was serving as interim director of the agency. Handmaker is now director of the city’s Bloomberg Initiative, a project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies of New York City to help improve city services and grow exports.

Changes planned for the newly reorganized department include:

· A new focus on advanced urban planning, creating a 25-year vision for Louisville. While the city’s Planning and Design Department concentrates on land use, zoning and development issues, the new role in economic development will include creating a long-term plan for the city in everything from parks to neighborhoods. Patti Clare, formerly assistant director of the Downtown Development Corp, will oversee that effort.

· A new focus on sustainability, making the city greener while growing green-collar jobs. Maria Koetter has been hired in that role as the city’s first Director of Sustainability (see related release).

· An updated economic development plan that focuses on collaboration and global outreach to grow exports from Louisville. Suhas Kulkarni, Director of Globalization, will lead the efforts to take Louisville to the world and bring the world to Louisville.

Handmaker’s review recommended the continued relationship with Greater Louisville Inc. the metro chamber of commerce, and the Downtown Development Corp. Both agencies are unique and do not duplicate services performed in city government.

Smith said he looks forward to the challenge of reshaping the economic development department to grow jobs.

“We have a great foundation on which to build,” he said. “Louisville is a city teeming with ideas and entrepreneurs who want to make those ideas come true. Our re-energized department will help make those connections – and ultimately grow the economy.”

The report also noted the need for the new department to begin assembling land for future development, especially in West Louisville, and to increase the city’s commitment to the green economy and 21st Century jobs. “Cities that will win in the 21st Century will be innovative and nimble,” Fischer said.

Click here to read the full report.