Serving a message about economic development – in a glass of Louisville Pure Tap®

By Hayley Robb, Building Kentucky

For someone who doesn’t live in Kentucky, serving a glass of water is an easy and flavorful way to explain the benefits of Kentucky’s water to growing a business. That sip can also serve as a reminder to those who live in the state.

Highlighting differentiators is important for economic development – what makes your community stand out from others? What sets your community apart? Two recent events highlighted one of Kentucky’s advantages: water – an abundant, reliable and high-quality supply of water.

Louisville Water Company elaborated on this advantage at the Annual Economic Summit in Ashland, Kentucky and the Annual Women in Economic Development Forum in Chicago alongside the Kentucky United team, a statewide group that works with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to highlight Kentucky’s business advantages.

In Chicago, Louisville Water’s presentation focused on the perfect pairing: bourbon and water. Louisville Water’s Kelley Dearing Smith joined Beam Suntory’s Raelyn Adkins and served Louisville Pure Tap® on ice alongside Chicago’s tap water. Adkins also served a sampling of Basil Hayden and Knob Creek in addition to the two waters.

Why a water tasting? It’s an easy way to get people thinking about something they often take for granted. Plus, it’s fun – how many times do companies and business professionals get to use their senses to sniff, swirl and sample different kinds of water?

Water has a connection to 24,000 businesses and 20 Kentucky distilleries, whether that’s through a direct supply, enhancing the quality of the final product or even its deep history. Water is truly bourbon’s best friend.

Louisville Water has been reiterating this message through its Water Grows KY campaign, a statewide educational initiative, highlighting water’s vital and often unexpected role in Kentucky’s signature industries – starting with bourbon, but also focusing on agriculture, education, health care and manufacturing.

Business leaders embraced the opportunity to learn of the state’s abundant supply for manufacturing, distilling, food/beverage production, the reliability for operations and the superior quality. As the only utility to trademark its tap water, Louisville Water definitely has an advantage to others in creating a platform to talk about water’s connection to a community.

“I came for the bourbon – but I’ll stay for the water,” one water taster commented.  

At the Annual Economic Summit, an event hosted by the Kentucky Association for Economic Development in eastern Kentucky this year, Smith was a featured speaker, in which she shared more about the “Water Grows KY” campaign and offered that same water taste test to attendees.

Much like Chicago, the ah-ha moments happened.

“Pure Tap is smooth and tastes like water should taste,” One attendee said. “There’s no plastic taste.”

Others were surprised by the ways in which you could discuss water’s taste, smell and make-up. But the goal above all was to bring water into the economic development conversation.

And what better way to start the conversation than serving the water? Ditch the bottled water for a site selector visit and give them a tall glass of Louisville Pure Tap®.

To learn more about the Water Grows KY campaign and how water can grow your business, visit

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