Wednesday July 18, 2018
News Topics

Mayor Greg Fischer is taking part in a 10-day trip to India, organized by the international Strong Cities Network (SCN), that will include a visit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

As part of the trip, funded by the U.S. Embassy in India, Mayor Fischer and Tom Tait, Mayor of Anaheim, Calif., will meet with government, business, media and thought leaders to discuss approaches to making cities safer and communities stronger amid the rise in violent extremist groups around the globe.

Mayor Fischer also will be speaking to members of India’s business community at the Indian Merchant Chamber of Commerce, and industry, interfaith and community leaders at various stops throughout the trip. He’ll also meet with state and city officials, including the mayor of Mumbai Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, and discuss Louisville’s story in interviews with India’s media.

“Visits like this are great opportunities to promote our city,” Mayor Fischer said. “Our focus on compassion is something that resonates worldwide and is so relevant in today’s world. And I always welcome to the chance to tell our city’s story to potential investors and business interests that may be looking to expand in the U.S.”

India’s population is 1.3 billion, and its GDP is about $2.3 trillion.

SCN Manager Rebecca Skellett said the two mayors were chosen for the trip because of their focus on compassion, which has been championed by the Dalai Lama. Anaheim’s City of Kindness initiative parallels Louisville Compassionate City efforts.

“Mayor Fischer and Mayor Tait are both driving forward innovative practices to build social cohesion with city-wide Charters for Compassion and Kindness, which offer tremendous value to residents and businesses alike,” Skellett said. “This is why we’re delighted to be taking these two U.S. Mayors to Delhi, Mumbai and Dharamsala — to share their journeys, inspire Indian cities and policy makers, and learn more about how India’s diverse range of communities live together side by side.”

Mayor Tait said, “As a city, we must always respond to daily needs for public safety and community services. But kindness is our long game. It has the potential for positive change over generations. While cities across the world may face different issues, the impact of kindness is the same. We are honored that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has embraced what we are doing in Anaheim. His words to us sum it up perfectly: ‘Creating cultures of kindness and compassion throughout the world is the key to achieving world peace.’”

Launched by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue at the United Nations in September 2015, SCN “is the first ever global network of mayors, municipal-level policy makers and practitioners united in building social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms,” according to its website.

SCN membership is diverse, including large megacities like London and Mumbai, to smaller municipalities such as Kristiansand and Tripoli.  What unites SCN members is their desire to share their experiences, learn from others and build community resilience against the divisive ideologies of hate, division and violence in all its forms.

“The network catalyzes, inspires and multiplies community-centric approaches and action to counter violent extremism through peer learning and expert training including city exchanges, annual summits, regional workshops and providing consultancy to cities,” the website said.

Mayor Fischer, who leaves for India Tuesday afternoon, said he’s pleased to share Louisville’s successes in compassion, community building and economic growth, and to learn best practices from others while visiting India.

The 55th Annual National Recreation Vehicle Trade Show returns to Louisville Nov. 27-30 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. This industry-only event draws approximately 8,000 industry professionals and is expected to generate $6.9 million in economic impact.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) hosts the event, which is the largest concentration of RV manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and campground managers in the world. More than 300 booths will pack 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space with motorhomes, travel trailers, campers, RV parts and accessories.

The four-day show provides attendees the opportunity to: 

  • Discover new products and innovations 
  • Attend training sessions 
  • Engage with key stakeholders and leaders 
  • Network with colleagues

This year features new awards:

  • the RV Industry Awards
  • the RV Industry 40 under 40.

Other new additions include a dealer sales boot camp, top tech challenge, and outdoor lifestyle pavilion.

Today, a record 9 million recreation vehicles travel U.S. roads representing a substantial increase in ownership over the past decade. The RV industry has seen seven consecutive years of growth.

RVIA is the national trade association for RV manufacturers and their component parts suppliers that together build more than 98 percent of all recreational vehicles produced in the United States.

The National RV Trade Show is closed to the public. For more information, visit

Registration deadline is Oct. 22

A Nov. 2 economic development forum focused on west Louisville will examine strategies and available resources to help rebuild and sustain communities.

The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences is offering the public event, “The Future of Our Community: West Louisville Economic and Community Development Forum,” at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Advance registration is required by Oct. 22 for the forum, which includes lunch. Participants should visit and pay online or by check; fees are $60 for corporate representatives, $50 for individuals and $40 for students.

Forum breakout sessions will focus on creative financing for individual and large construction projects, economic opportunities for minority-owned firms, successful neighborhood planning and access to lending opportunities. Panelists will include residents, developers, financiers, entrepreneurs and government and community group representatives.

WAVE 3 News anchor Dawne Gee will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the event.

The program includes a 12:45-2:15 p.m. luncheon panel with former National Basketball Association players Derek Anderson and Darrell Griffith discussing “Giving Back: The Power of Investing in the Community” and a tribute to philanthropist and civic leader Charlie Johnson.

The A&S international, diversity and engagement programs office organized the forum. Other partners are Brown-Forman Corp., OneWest, PNC Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis-Louisville Branch, Louisville Metro Council, Louisville Housing Authority, Louisville Forward, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and UofL’s urban and public affairs department.

For a full schedule of sessions and speakers, see the forum’s website. For more information, contact Clest Lanier at 502-852-3042 or

WorldFest, one of the region’s largest international festivals, will take place this Labor Day weekend for its 15th year, with four days of international food, music, dance and culture starting Sept. 1 at the downtown Belvedere.

More than 70 local and regional entertainers will offer a variety of music, dance styles and beats, ranging from African drumming to reggae to Indian, Celtic, Arabic, Latin, Caribbean music and more.

Headliner acts will include Toby Foyeh & Orchestra Africa, Cheili Minucci & the EFK All Stars with Karen Briggs, Billy Goat Strut Revue, Cosa Seria, Afro Physicists, and The British Invasion.

More than 100 vendors will participate, with 30-plus food vendors serving a global sampling of cuisine and culture.

“Louisville is a welcoming community, a community that values the immigrants and refugees who help make us grow as a city in so many ways,” Mayor Greg Fischer said today, in announcing this year’s event. “Our diversity is on proud display during the WorldFest weekend, and I encourage everyone to come out and experience all the world has to offer, right here in our own downtown.”

Admission to WorldFest is free all four days because of Western Kentucky University Confucius Institute and Passport Health Plan’s generous support.

“The Confucius Institute at WKU (CI at WKU) is very excited to partner with the Mayor’s office to support this event,” said the institute’s Terrill Martin.  “Last year was the first year that the CI at WKU participated in the event, and it was phenomenal.  We wanted to be a bigger presence this year, which is why we are a ‘Gold’ sponsor.

“What a great platform for us to share the Chinese culture and language to the communities we serve,” Martin said.

“Passport Health Plan is proud to once again sponsor the WorldFest event in downtown Louisville,” said Jill Bell, its Vice President, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer. “This amazing international festival highlights so many of the wonderful and diverse people who make Louisville such a fun and exciting place to live, work and play.”

In addition to music, food and dancing, other highlights include:

  • The Global Village – A kaleidoscope of Louisville’s culture, where you can interact with representatives of more than 20 nations. All nine of Louisville’s Sister Cities will be represented again this year.
  • The WorldFest Children’s Area – Will feature activities from WKU’s Confucius Institute, as well as Home Depot.
  • Parade of Cultures – Will showcase the multicultural diversity of our unique city.
  • Chinese Cultural Experience – Mobile Unit in front of The Kentucky Center.

The festival includes a naturalization ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, where more than 300 immigrants will become full U.S. citizens, and a colorful Parade of Cultures at noon on Saturday.

New this year, the children’s activities have expanded to include more than 20 interactive activities highlighting specific aspects of the Chinese culture like calligraphy lessons, fan painting and Tai Chi demonstrations. In addition, the Confucius Institute will have its Chinese Cultural Experience mobile unit on display in front of the Kentucky Center for the Arts. This 40-foot RV is retrofitted to serve as a Chinese museum on wheels.

Along with the Chinese Cultural Experience, the Global Human Project has registered more than 1,000 middle school and high school students to take part in the Walk-A-Mile in My Shoes Immigration Simulation on Friday, Sept. 1. Students will play the roles of immigrants and will encounter the hardships that are common to refugees.

On Sunday, Sept. 3, WorldFest will offer a Job Expo from 1 to 7 p.m. on the west lawn between The Kentucky Center and the Main Stage. This is a great opportunity for community members to connect with hiring managers from a number of employers in our area.

The International Festival and Events Association has recognized WorldFest as among the best in North America. In 2011, it was named a Top Ten Fall Festival by the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, and in 2015, the International Festival and Event Association named Louisville the Top Festival City in North America.

WorldFest is free to the public because of its generous sponsors. Signature Gold Sponsors: Western Kentucky University Confucius Institute and Passport Health Plan. Silver Sponsors: Kentucky Lottery and ValuMarket. Bronze Sponsors:  The Muhammad Ali Center, Al Dia, Anthem Medicaid, CareSource, Ford/UAW, Stella Artois, and WLKY. Contributing Sponsors: Erie Insurance, El Kentubano, The Galt House Hotel, Global Human Project, The Home Depot, Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Louisville Public Media, Outfront Media and UPS.

For more information about WorldFest, visit Let us know if you plan to attend, via our Facebook event page. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AroundLou!

County Attorney Mike O’Connell is supporting a high-tech approach to curbing habitual drunk drivers with the rollout of Jefferson County’s new Continuous Alcohol Monitoring Program (CAMP).

Under the new initiative, prosecutors in O’Connell’s office will request that all repeat offenders for driving under the influence (DUI) wear alcohol-sensing anklets for varying periods of time to ensure that they aren’t drinking. The anklets, produced by SCRAM Systems, automatically test a subject’s perspiration every 30 minutes for alcohol consumption.

The 24-hour monitoring is designed to help individuals address their alcohol issues and reduce the chances that they will reoffend. The Jefferson County Attorney’s office will also recommend CAMP for certain alcohol-involved domestic violence cases and for first-time DUI offenders with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 or greater that also have an additional serious aggravating factor. Aggravators would include multi-vehicle crashes or those that involve bodily injury or death, a driver under the age of 21, or having a minor-age child in the car at the time of arrest.

In addition to keeping roads safer from impaired drivers, O’Connell stressed the focus on rehabilitation with CAMP.

“The use of this alcohol-sensing technology can absolutely save lives,” O’Connell said. “This is an effort to use the accountability of the courts as a path toward sobriety. The longer a person is able to stay sober, the greater the chance that they will not commit a DUI or other alcohol-involved crime.”

Depending on the case, CAMP might be recommended while a defendant is awaiting trial, entered as a condition of a plea agreement, or both. The program could also conceivably cut city costs by allowing certain offenders to avoid jail days if they agree to continuous monitoring and demonstrate that they take their offense—and their alcohol misuse—seriously and are addressing the issue.

Offenders will pay for the monitoring with planning in place to help people who are indigent and cannot afford the costs. Monitoring costs nationwide average $10-12 a day. SCRAM Systems claims that former clients have self-reported spending on average about $14 per day on alcohol prior to wearing the bracelet. The office of the Jefferson County Attorney receives no money from the program.

Jurisdictions across the country have had success using SCRAM technology and continuous alcohol monitoring. York County, Pennsylvania reduced pretrial recidivism for drunk drivers by more than 90 percent. The district attorney in San Diego County, California–using monitoring guidelines similar to what is planned in Louisville–has saved taxpayer dollars by reduced jail overcrowding and seen earlier intervention for alcohol misuse.

Monitoring technology and services will be provided locally by Bluegrass Monitoring, which has monitored more than 9,200 individuals through similar efforts in the region as Ohio Alcohol Monitoring Systems.

Seminars are set for August 14-16 at the Louisville Bar Foundation to educate members of the local legal community, including judges and members of the defense bar, about the program.

CAMP is the latest tactic that O’Connell has promoted that uses the leverage of the court system to have a positive impact on addiction. His office has been instrumental in forming and supporting the Jefferson County’s Drug Treatment and Veterans’ Treatment Courts, and he has supported the use of Casey’s Law in Kentucky, which allows parents, spouses and others to seek the court’s assistance to order their loved one into treatment for drugs or alcohol.


  • According to Kentucky’s Administrative Office of the Courts, Jefferson County has averaged 4,260 charges of DUI each year since 2011. In 2016, there were 2,383 total DUI charges in Jefferson District Court and more than 22 percent (528) were repeat offenses.
  • In 2016, 835 people in Kentucky died as a result of car crashes. The Commonwealth saw more than 4,200 collisions involving alcohol last year, resulting in more than 1,900 injuries and 119 alcohol-involved fatalities.
  • On average, a DUI can cost a person $10,000 in attorney fees, fines and court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing and repairs etc. Based on 2010 data from NHTSA, impaired driving crashes cost the United States more $44 billion each year.
  • SCRAM Systems has monitored nearly 600,000 people with the technology that will be used in Jefferson County, and on any given day, 99.3 percent of individuals are sober and fully compliant with their monitoring.

Interapt LLC, a tech development startup focusing on business innovation services and workforce development, will establish a new Louisville headquarters with a nearly $3.7 million investment and create 250 full-time jobs over the coming years, Mayor Greg Fischer and Gov. Matt Bevin announced yesterday.

“Louisville is seeing growth like never before in our tech sector right now. Interapt’s expansion is confirmation that we have created an environment where entrepreneurs, innovators and makers can thrive,” said the Mayor. “I look forward to seeing the continued growth of our trained IT workforce and applaud the company on its move to the Portland neighborhood in west Louisville.”

Photo: Interapt

For its new office, Interapt will renovate a 22,000 square-foot manufacturing and warehousing facility at 1226 Rowan St. in the city’s Portland neighborhood near downtown. The new headquarters will include dedicated space for community-focused workforce development and technology training programs.

Interapt develops mobile, web and high-tech wearable applications that help businesses improve their processes, communication and bottom line. Customers include Baptist Healthcare, Eurofins, Humana, Kindred Healthcare, YUM! Brands, General Electric and many others.

“Interapt has dedicated itself to creating a pipeline of highly qualified software developers in Kentucky, and their work is catching the attention of a national tech industry,” said Gov. Bevin “The tremendous work of founder and CEO Ankur Gopal, and his team, serves to further establish Kentucky as a premier location for high-tech businesses. With its new corporate office, Interapt will invest in both its own future and that of the commonwealth’s tech industry, and we are thankful for their continued commitment to Kentucky.”

In 2016, Interapt collaborated with multiple for- and nonprofit organizations to develop a technology workforce training initiative. That initiative includes TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY), which has successfully re-trained under-employed individuals in the Appalachia region.

Gopal, who founded Interapt in 2009, said he hopes the company’s growth inspires the next generation of Kentuckians to start their own entrepreneurial journey, and that other global technology companies take notice and consider Kentucky when expanding their businesses.

“This is an exciting milestone for Interapt. Our team has worked very hard to establish ourselves in the global technology industry and help create technology skills across the Commonwealth. We are proud that our work is changing many people’s lives and creating new opportunities for people to embark on fruitful technology careers,” said Gopal. “I appreciate Kentucky’s support and commitment to Interapt’s growth, and look forward to our team making continued impact throughout my home state.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in April preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $2 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

Additionally, KEDFA approved Interapt for up to $75,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.

For more information on Interapt, visit


Passport Health Plan announced today that it has acquired a significant West Louisville property at 18th Street and Broadway. Passport’s plan for the 20-acre site is to create a state-of-the-art Health and Wellness Campus to serve the needs of the local community and house its 500-plus employees in its new corporate headquarters.

Plans for the campus would include health- and service-based retail sites adjacent to the newly announced YMCA facility. Together, the new developments will help transform this important section of West Louisville by providing much-needed services, jobs, and economic development opportunities. Before construction begins, Passport will engage the West Louisville community through a series of meetings and listening sessions to hear about residents’ needs and desires for the Health and Wellness Campus.

“Passport Health Plan is growing because of the great service we provide to our members, and we need to find a new home for our current and future employees,” CEO Mark B. Carter said at a news conference announcing the purchase. “After 20 years in the Louisville community, we realize that to truly meet our mission – to improve the health and quality of life of our members – we need to build a new model in healthcare. This new campus, and our initiative to integrate social determinants of health into our health plan, will ensure access to resources and services in our community and beyond to help our members flourish in all aspects of their lives.”

The corporate headquarters will initially be home to Passport’s current 500-plus employees, but will be designed with the extensive future growth in mind.

“With our community partners and local residents, we hope to add services to the community beyond clinical care, services that are person-centered,” Carter added. “We realize that access to housing, food, jobs, and other resources are key drivers to good health and wellness, and we look forward to facilitating a number of community conversations over the coming months as we strive to help transform and revitalize our community.”

According to the financial terms of the deal, Passport has acquired the parcels from New Bridge Development for $9.1 million. A letter of intent with Metro Louisville includes provisions subject to Metro Council approval, including the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan – the first TIF established west of 9th Street – estimated at $2.8-$4 million over 20 years.

“Passport is a great and growing company and its decision to relocate its headquarters to 18th and Broadway is a huge win for west Louisville – and for the city at large,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “Passport and its employees are driven by the same core values that we embrace as a city – compassion, health, and lifelong learning. Metro Government is honored to help make this deal a reality.”

Moving to West Louisville will allow Passport to work more closely with members in a new model that addresses the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age. By creating a new corporate home in West Louisville, Passport aims to improve the environment in which it works while also enhancing efficiency and effectiveness, placing a high priority on a working environment that encourages excellence and engagement on the part of all associates.

“For years, the University of Louisville has been collaborating with a large number of organizations through the Signature Partnership to enhance overall well-being on the West Side of Louisville,” said Dr. Greg C. Postel, interim president of the University of Louisville. “Having Passport, a company strictly focused on improving the health not only of individuals but also communities, establish its headquarters in the neighborhood will bring renewed energy to all of our efforts.”

Passport Health Plan is a provider-sponsored, non-profit managed care organization (MCO) that has been contracted with the Commonwealth of Kentucky to administer Medicaid benefits since 1997. It is sponsored by the University of Louisville Physicians, University Medical Center, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, Norton Healthcare, and the Louisville/Jefferson County Primary Care Association. It has been serving residents in all 120 counties of Kentucky since 2004, and currently counts more than 300,000 Kentuckians as members. There are also more than 25,000 providers in Passport’s provider network, including primary care physicians, hospitals, specialists, and more.