Fischer Chooses Economic Development Director to Lead Bloomberg Project

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has chosen a member of his cabinet to lead a grant-funded project to develop a new manufacturing region with Lexington.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is giving Louisville and several other cities grants to form so-called innovation teams to carry out municipal improvement projects.

Fischer has tapped interim Economic Development Director Margaret Handmaker to lead the project locally. Mayor’s spokesman Chris Poynter says Fischer interviewed many potential candidates in and out of Metro Government. Bloomberg officials helped choose Handmaker and will continue to work on the project for the next three years.

“Basically, Bloomberg’s role, in addition to funding the initiative, they will be bringing in their experts from around the country to Louisville for meetings and to work directly with Margaret and the team Margaret is about to assembly to work on what we call the innovation teams,” says Poynter.

Bloomberg gave Louisville $4.8 million for the project. The city is contributing an additional $2.4 million.

Handmaker has been conducting a review of the city’s economic development strategy. She’ll assume her new duties in December and step down from her current post.

“The mayor’s goal is to have a permanent [economic development] director named by the end of the year, which would coincide with Margaret’s report of changes to the city’s economic development strategy,” says Poynter.

Handmaker’s salary in the new position and the salaries of her appointees will be paid from the project fund.