Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Louisville- Lexington Super Region Partnership Good Lesson for Owensboro

Back in the early days of the commonwealth, Lexington and Louisville were about as different as two cities could be.

The Bluegrass metropolis, for a time the largest city west of the Alleghenies, fancied itself an extension of Virginia. Its beau ideal, Henry Clay, had traveled west from Virginia, as had many of the early residents of the town. It boasted elegant streets and spacious homes.

A hundred miles west on the Ohio River, Louisville's origins were far different. The river city was settled by hardy pioneers, many of whom came from the East and were dissatisfied with their lot in life there. Always a bit rowdy, known for its brothels and barrooms, Louisville grew because of its location, soon outpacing Lexington in both wealth and population.

Fast forward to 2011, with two new leaders, both young entrepreneurs interested in setting a new course in partnership, not in competition. Together, they creatively sought support from the Brookings Institution to do a study that explores how to build the corridor between the two cities (which also includes the capital city, Frankfort) to the advantage of both.

The economic development impact of this approach will be felt all around the Commonwealth. What can Owensboro learn from this initiative? Would a similar super regional arrangement with Evansville or Bowling Green provide similar benefit to this region and part of the state?

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