News and Tribune

March 5, 2014

Fischer touts regionalism between Louisville, Southern Indiana

Louisville mayor says communities are dependent on one another


NEW ALBANY — Southern Indiana is an extension of Louisville Metro, and the communities depend on each other for commerce and economic development.

That was the gist of the message delivered by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Wednesday, as he was the keynote speaker during an event on regionalism and philanthropy hosted by the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana at The Grand in New Albany.

While area cities can’t exactly provide funding or subsidize services for each other, they can support one another economically and socially, Fischer said.

While the federal government is divided by partisan lines, Fischer said local communities still have the power to mold their futures without gridlock.

“At the local level is where it gets done,” he said to a crowd of more than 275 people.

“There’s no conservative or liberal way to plow a street.”

Fischer noted two high-profile projects that have entailed cooperation from Southern Indiana and Louisville in the Ohio River Greenway and the Ohio River Bridges Project.

“There’s going to be a lot of winners on the economic development front coming out of the bridges project,” Fischer said.

The growth of River Ridge Commerce Center in Clark County is just one example of the economic impact the ORBP is already having on the region, he continued.

And Fischer said he knows firsthand the importance of regionalism, as his private business interests brought him regularly to Jeffersonville and Sellersburg prior to being elected as mayor of Louisville.

The Ohio River Greenway is also connecting Kentucky and Indiana in new ways, especially with the May targeted opening date for the Big Four pedestrian bridge in Jeffersonville.

Fischer joined New Albany officials in stressing the importance of opening the K&I Bridge to pedestrians as part of the greenway.

He asked for leaders and residents to continue to push Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. into realizing “that the world will not come to an end if pedestrians and bikers cross the K&I Bridge.”

Fischer called upon residents on either side of the Ohio River to have compassion for each other. The community’s response two years ago following the Henryville tornado is an example of the spirit people have in the area, he touted.

“There’s something inside everybody that says ‘I want to help,’” Fischer said.

Though he didn’t specify any particular projects, Fischer said he hopes Louisville and Southern Indiana towns and cities can continue to partner together in the future.

He also credited CFSI for its impact locally, as the organization now has more than 240 charitable funds holding about $27 million in assets.

Nationally, community foundations are celebrating their centennial after being founded in 1914. The CFSI launched in 1991, and has aided with education programs, scholarships, donations to the Greenway and support for nonprofits.

According to CFSI President and CEO Linda Speed, the organization could provide another $7 million in grants annually if 5 percent of transferred wealth locally was earmarked for the foundation’s charitable causes.

“Our vision is to be the partner and trusted resource for philanthropy in our community,” she said.