Wednesday October 23, 2019
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Bourbon City to Headline Travel South USA International Travel Showcase

Travel South USA is excited to announce the upcoming locations for its annual International Showcase through 2023; Louisville, Kentucky (2021); Memphis, Tennessee (2022); Atlanta, Georgia (2023).

International travelers mean big business for the south and connecting with tour operators and trade journalists in 7,000+ pre-scheduled business appointments is a key marketing tactic for the region. This program combines outstanding entertainment, city tours, and evening events along with curated content during meal functions and is considered the premier marketing opportunity to showcase the rich music, food, culture, history and hospitality of the South.

Louisville continues to strike a balance between its role as a capitol city for America’s most venerable spirit, Bourbon, and its 21st century position as one of the most energetic places in the country to eat, drink and explore. Travel South USA describes Louisville as having the atmosphere and attraction of a big city with the hospitality and heart of a small one. They cite that often the globalization of society has made larger cities seem homogenous, however as Louisville is home to the Kentucky Derby, Muhammad Ali and Louisville Slugger, the city has been able to retain its cultural authenticity.

The city continues to garner national accolades including TravelAwaits “Most Affordable U.S. Cities to Visit in 2019,” and Southern Living’s “The South’s Best Food Cities 2019” as well as Business Insider’s “8 Best Places to Visit in the U.S. if you Love Bourbon.”

“Louisville is ready to open its doors to Travel South USA and the lucrative travel trade market. The timing is perfect as the city’s tourism product is more sought after than ever before, said Karen Williams, President & CEO of Louisville Tourism. “We’ll be ready to show Travel South delegates why Louisville is one of the hottest destinations in the US,” she said.

The state and city hosts will have the opportunity to feature the exclusive experiences found around the state and in the city destination to over 100 International Tour Operators from about 20 countries from around the world. Working together, over 300 tourism professionals from destination marketing organizations, hotels, attractions, restaurants and global partner representatives will meet one-on-one with top International Buyers and U.S. Receptive Tour Operators with a goal to build more visitation, spend more time and money in the South, and generate awareness of the diverse destinations found within the region.

Citing Louisville’s strong economy, sound management, and budgetary flexibility, the nationally recognized credit rating services Fitch Ratings, Inc. and Moody’s Investors Service have again granted Louisville Metro positive bond ratings.

The economic renaissance underway in Louisville includes $13 billion of capital investment since 2014, 80,000 new jobs and 2,700 new businesses since 2011, rising wages and an unemployment rate below four percent. The new acknowledgements from Fitch and Moody’s of “The Big Three” credit agencies position Louisville Metro to build on that economic momentum through additional capital investments across the city.

“Unprecedented economic growth is visible in every corner of Louisville, from the Southwest, South Central and Northeast Regional Libraries to the revitalization at the intersection of 18th and Broadway and the renaissance underway in Russell,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Positive credit ratings strengthen our ability to make smart investments that complement the contributions coming from other sectors.”

Louisville Metro’s upcoming bond sales will be used to repay notes issued in 2017 to provide initial financing for land acquisition associated with the approximately $200 million development of the Butchertown Stadium District. The sale will include $15.8 million in tax-exempt and $14.8 million in taxable general obligation bonds. Louisville City FC, which has enhanced their financing portfolio with support from the state, will pay $14.5 million back to the city over 20 years for reimbursement of a large portion of the land cost.

Fitch again assigned and affirmed its highest rating of AAA for Louisville Metro.

In its report, Fitch stated that the “AAA’ ratings reflect metro government’s low long-term liabilities, strong revenue and expenditure frameworks, and Fitch’s expectation that the metro government will maintain a high level of financial flexibility throughout economic cycles.”

Moody’s affirmed its Aa1 rating for Louisville Metro.

Moody’s report cited Louisville Metro’s “sizeable and growing tax base serving as a regionally important economic hub” as a factor in assigning the Aa1 rating, and the “regionally important local economy” as rationale for issuing a stable outlook.

“Mayor Fischer’s leadership in strengthening our financial foundation has positioned Louisville Metro to act on strategic opportunities that build on our economic momentum,” said Louisville Metro’s Chief Financial Officer, Daniel Frockt. “Our positive credit ratings are key to making that happen.”

Louisville Metro’s bond sales are scheduled for Oct. 31, 2018.

As part of a cultural exchange program initiated by Mayor Greg Fischer and Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, six teenage boxers and their coaches from the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABA) are visiting Louisville from October 8-14.

The Louisville-Liverpool cultural exchange is meant to build on the series of iconic photographs showcasing the February 18, 1964 meeting between Louisville’s Muhammad Ali and the Beatles, of Liverpool. In May, local musician Carly Johnson and her band represented Louisville in Liverpool, performing at the Sound City Music Festival and at the iconic Cavern Club.

During their stay in Louisville, the English boxers will train with James Dixon at TKO Boxing, tour area cultural institutions, and visit with area schools to better understand Muhammad Ali’s lasting impact on Louisville. Thanks to a generous $5,000 donation from Danny Wimmer Presents, the boxers will stay at the iconic Galt House Hotel.

“This exchange builds on the connections between Liverpool and Louisville that were initiated with that 1964 meeting of world-changing artists and a barrier-breaking athlete,” Mayor Fischer said. “The Champ and the Fab Four were committed to making the world a better, more compassionate place – a common bond that’s always worth celebrating.”

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram echoed this sentiment: “More than half a century on from the famous photo that brought those two icons together, we are determined to build on those links to create a strong cultural and sporting partnership that will bring our two regions together, paving the way for future cultural and commercial collaborations.”

For the fourth year in a row, Louisville has earned a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) scorecard.

The ranking — called the Municipal Equality Index (MEI) — reflects the city’s support of the LGBTQ community, and the commitment of all Louisville Metro Government agencies to ensure the city is welcoming and inclusive.

“In Louisville, we believe that everyone has the right to be treated with respect, and that being a compassionate community means working to ensure everyone has the ability to reach their full human potential,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “This ranking underscores our hard work and commitment to those beliefs.”

The Human Rights Campaign began in 1980 and is now the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans. It represents more than 1.5 million members and supporters.

In a press release, HRC says its index, “the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Kentucky, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBTQ people and workers — even in the face of renewed attacks this year on the LGBTQ community by federal and state officials.”

Mayor Fischer said Louisville’s HRC ranking is a boost to the city’s economic development efforts, given that inclusive cities are increasingly winning in the competition for residents, businesses and employees.

That message was emphasized in the HRC report, in which Richard Florida, Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, noted: “Cities that do not guarantee equal rights to LGBTQ people send a strong unwelcoming message to potential visitors, residents, and investors, stymying their potential for economic advancement. In short, many businesses and top talent consider LGBTQ discrimination a deal-breaker. Fully-inclusive laws draw in diverse residents, visitors, and enterprises, the ingredients of sustained economic growth. It pays to prioritize inclusion.”

HRC president Chad Griffin said this year’s MEI “again proves that there are no barriers to municipal LGBTQ equality for a city with dedicated, pro-equality city officials. … As we approach one of the most critical elections of our lifetimes, it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that we help elect more leaders across the nation who share this uncompromising commitment to equality for all.”

Mayor Fischer applauded all city workers and staff for their work in human rights, including Louisville Metro Police and the Metro Louisville Human Relations Commission, whose mission is to promote unity, understanding and equal opportunity among all people of Louisville Metro, and to eliminate all forms of bigotry, bias, and hatred from the community.

Chris Hartman, Fairness Campaign Executive Director, said the HRC ranking highlights Louisville’s exemplary leadership on LGBTQ inclusion, which “should serve as a model for other cities in our Commonwealth and across the nation.

“As we near the 20th anniversary of Louisville’s original Fairness Ordinance in January, we’re reminded that time and time again, our city has helped pave the way for LGBTQ rights–and we’re not stopping here,” Hartman said. “We’re grateful for the dedicated work of Mayor Greg Fischer and his staff, the Louisville Metro Council and Louisville Tourism to embrace, promote and protect our diverse LGBTQ community.”

Read the full MEI report at www.hrc.org/mei.

Louisville’s homeless population will have an opportunity to access services, information and assistance in a one-stop environment at the 2018 Project Homeless Connect/VA Stand Down, on Wed., Oct. 3. Resources available at the event will include food, clothing, medical evaluations, help with employment, education and benefit services, State ID’s, and many other forms of assistance.

The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (entry doors will close at 1 p.m.) at The Salvation Army (Old Male High School) campus located at 911 S. Brook St. in Louisville. Several TARC buses will provide access throughout the day from emergency shelters to the event site at no cost courtesy of TARC. The event is coordinated by the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services, Coalition for the Homeless and other community partners including The Salvation Army.

The Project Homeless Connect/VA Stand Down (PHC/Stand Down) is an annual one-day community outreach project where representatives from community service organizations come together to address the collective needs of the homeless during a single visit. This event is made possible by the work of hundreds of volunteers and resources from the Robley Rex VAMC, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, Louisville Metro Government, Coalition for the Homeless, and Louisville Metro Council.

The latest numbers from the 2017 Homeless Census indicate 6217 individuals were homeless at some point in Louisville last year — either on the streets, in homeless shelters or accessing services through Louisville’s homeless service providers. A variety of factors can lead to homelessness and often these individuals may be victims of domestic violence, disabled, veterans or senior citizens.

At last year’s event approximately 400 persons participated receiving a variety of individual services including State of KY ID cards, flu shots and other medical exams and services, housing linkages, mainstream benefit access (SSI/SSDI), clothing, food and general case management services. The “Stand Down” event, named for the military concept of renewal, personal care, etc., is replicated from a national service delivery model that has proven to be crucial in eliminating barriers to housing, employment, education and the myriad of other factors that contribute to long-term homelessness.

“This is a vital event for our community because it allows our service providers to connect much-needed resources to our homeless residents”, stated Gena Redmon Harris, director of the city’s Office of Resilience and Community Services.  “It also allows us a great opportunity to measure the needs of our homeless population so that we can come together to be more responsive”.

Offered again this year will be a foot-washing service provided by community volunteers and the Coalition for the Homeless. Many individuals experiencing homelessness have issues with their feet due to diabetes, frostbite and other exposure issues. Every participant at Project Homeless Connect/Stand Down will be invited to soak their feet and have them examined by medical volunteers.

For more information about the Homeless Connect event contact:

  • Jamie Watts – Louisville VAMC Homeless Supervisory Coordinator at 502-287-4176
  • Ethan Lambert – Louisville Metro Resilience and Community Services at 502-574-5375
  • Natalie Harris – Coalition for the Homeless at 502-636-9550

Photo: Louisville Metro Council

Councilwoman Mary C. Woolridge (D-3) is inviting everyone to come out to this year’s Unity in the Community Festival on Saturday, August 11th in Algonquin Park. This annual event is a fun filled afternoon and evening for the entire family.

“Summer is winding down and the start of school is just around the corner. This Festival is a chance for everyone to have a little fun at the park and our help children get ready for the beginning of a new school year,” says Woolridge. “We want everyone to come out and enjoy themselves as we have some summer fun.”

A highlight of the Festival is a Back to School Back Pack and School Supply giveaway. 500 back packs will be given away while they last. All children must be accompanied by an adult to receive a backpack and supplies.

For children there will be free face painting and a free inflatable bouncy. The Festival will also feature free blood pressure screening and a voter registration booth.

There will be free hot dogs, sodas and water.

Summer entertainment this year will be provided by two great groups of musicians: The Unlimited Band and The Eddie Abraham Band.

“This is truly a community event with a purpose: making sure our children are ready for school while helping families prepare them for the new school year. We also want to kick back and have a little fun in Algonquin Park which is such a great asset to the community,” says Woolridge. “I hope everyone will come out and join us.

The Unity in the Community Festival will get underway from 3:00pm to 8:00pm in Algonquin Park located at Cypress and Burwell Streets.

For more information, contact Councilwoman Woolridge’s office at 574-1103.

Angela Leet Releases Statement on Crime Numbers

Mayoral candidate and current District 7 Councilwoman Angela Leet called the Fischer Administration’s claim that crime is down, “dishonest.”

This claim is absolutely disingenuous. During Fischer’s first year in office, there were 49 homicides in the county. Last year, there were 108 homicides in the county. This year, we are currently on track to double the number of homicides in Fischer’s first year. So seeing a tiny downtick in a few week’s time is not a victory when all Fischer has managed to do is set a new normal of more than a 100 homicides a year,” said Leet.

In a 2005 survey, Morgan Quitno Press ranked Louisville as the seventh safest large city in the United States with that rank dropping to number eight in the 2006 edition of the survey.  Lousiville, however, failed to make independent security review site SafeWise’s 2017 list of 50 Safest Metro Cities in America at all and came in at 106 in WalletHub’s 2017’s Safest Cities in America rankings.

Leet claimed that the legacy of the Fischer Administration would be that “homicides have doubled, shootings have doubled, and drug overdose deaths have tripled” under the oversight of the current mayor.

The LMPD historical homicide data does show a dramatic uptick in murders over the past several years. The highest number of murders since 1960, the earliest year in which data is available, was 2016’s record setting year with 122 homicides in Jefferson County, followed closely by 2017’s number of 116 total homicides.

Fischer’s first year in office, 2011, saw the lowest number of homicides since 2003. The several years following his tenure as Mayor showed measurably higher numbers before beginning their remarkable increase to the numbers seen in recent years.

Leet continued, “For the 10 years prior to Fischer taking office, U of L Hospital admitted an average of 166 gunshot victims per year. During the Fischer Administration, U of L Hospital has seen an average of over 200 shooting victims, and that average is over 300 for the last 2 years. 1700 people have been admitted to University of Louisville Hospital for gunshot wounds since Fischer took office. That does not even include victims who were not admitted.

Putting a rosy spin on crime numbers is nothing new, however. Last August we published the city’s release claiming that crime overall in Lousiville was down 4%, driven by large decreases in violent crimes such as rape and robbery, and smaller decreases in property crimes like larceny. The article, however, noted then that homicides were up by 20% over the previous year’s data.

However, Leet said of Fischer’s attempt “to spin a tale of ‘crime is down'” in a year in which he is up for reelection, “I am disappointed that Fischer is manipulating numbers and denying the reality of drug and gang issues in our neighborhoods.

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