Metro Council Committee Set to Vote on Support for Louisville-Lexington Economic Super Region

by Gabe Bullard on November 14, 2011

The Metro Council will express its support for the so-called economic super region between Louisville and Lexington tomorrow.

The Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement, or BEAM, is a partnership between the two cities organized with help from the Brookings Institution and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Its goal is to create an atmosphere in which the cities can work together to attract jobs, mostly in the manufacturing sector.

But BEAM is little more than a concept—a well-funded concept—at this point. It has a leader in former Louisville Arena Authority chairman Jim Host, and a board and direction are expected to begin forming next week.

Despite the uncertainty, every member of the Metro Council has signed on as a cosponsor to a resolution supporting BEAM. Majority caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt says council President Jim King wants both Louisville and Lexington governments to express early support for the BEAM concept.

“The president felt a resolution would show strong support between the two governments,” he said. “And the two governments will work with whatever BEAM comes up with in the future if it’s geared toward economic development to specifically create jobs.”

Hyatt says similarities between companies in both cities means there are logical ways to share ideas.

“Many of the initiatives are things that will enhance both areas,” he said. “We have Ford, they have Toyota in the area. We have GE, they have Lexmark.”

More decisions on BEAM’s leadership and direction are expected next week. Councilman Ken Fleming says there is some behind the scenes work that could strengthen the region as well, and he doesn’t think the resolution is premature.

“Is it too early?” Fleming asked. “No, because we feel there is a good initiative and it’s something that needs to be done and there are some things in the works that I think it’s going to hopefully bear out sooner rather than later.”

With every council member supporting the resolution, it’s expected to handily clear committee tomorrow and go to the full council for a vote.

A similar resolution will be introduced in the Lexington council tomorrow.

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