The following op-ed was written by the Jefferson Community and Technical College President Dr. Ty Handy.
Downtown Louisville is on the cusp of its next great chapter. In every direction, I see potential flowing through the veins of our community, like water from the river this city is built on.
I recognize this potential because I see it every day in our students. At Jefferson, we welcome folks who, like the city, are eager for an opportunity to open doors and start a new chapter in their lives.
As we develop our students into future professionals, the same attention must be given to our urban areas. In other words, we owe this city a commitment to revitalizing downtown Louisville just as we are committed to developing and educating our residents for productive life.
These investments are already happening. Down the street on West Broadway is the future home of the West End Elementary School, a 79,000 square foot facility with a capacity to serve an estimated 650 students. The shared site with the new YMCA allows two organizations to share amenities, including the gymnasium, playgrounds, tech center, and library.
And the City has plans to update and improve the entire Broadway corridor with a safer, more beautiful gateway into downtown Louisville.
That includes our Downtown Campus, with moving the Jefferson bookstore from a basement to its new home at 200 W. Broadway. What was once a bank headquarters is now an inviting space where the student experience begins.
At the heart of our campus is one of Jefferson’s most recognizable landmarks, Hartford Hall. Standing 11 stories tall, this fixture of the downtown setting may look unrecognizable in the next decade. A proposed replacement of Hartford Hall could mean not one, but two new buildings will go in its place.
Finally, the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, UofL Health, Norton Healthcare and Jefferson have joined forces as the Louisville Medical and Education District, LOUMED, a district committed to improving the safety, security and quality of place in and around the downtown medical and education area.
No matter what part of Louisville you call home, these projects matter – as does the more than $1 billion in investments that have rolled in over the course of the last year according to the Louisville Downtown Partnership – because downtown belongs to all of us.
The 2022 Downtown Louisville Economic Impact Report published by the Louisville Downtown Partnership reveals a multitude of reasons for investing in downtown Louisville. With approximately 61,000 workers, downtown Louisville is the region’s largest employment hub. Thriving attractions like the Bourbon District with seven distillery experiences, an ever-growing waterfront park and culturally-enhancing performing arts venues bring more than 10 million visitors annually. Not to mention the fact that industries account for $8+ billion in gross domestic product – all happening downtown.
Little by little, one block at a time, we are bringing Louisville closer to the start of a new beginning. Revitalization takes investment of all sizes and vision from all who call Louisville home. In that spirit, let’s work together to ignite the change that will revolutionize the future of downtown Louisville and open more doors to opportunity for everyone.
Learn more about Ty Handy and his work at Jefferson at jefferson.kctcs.edu/.