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April 11, 2013

EXECUTIVE REPORT: Southern Indiana mayors, leaders discuss local issues during 1si event

JEFFERSONVILLE — Bridges, budgets and business — the executive leaders of New Albany, Jeffersonville, Clarksville and Charlestown all face similar challenges.

During a Wednesday luncheon hosted by One Southern Indiana, the leaders discussed pressing issues and touted progress made in their communities as New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan, Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore and Clarksville Town Council President Bob Polston spoke during the event.

Bridges and infrastructure were the focal topics discussed by the Clark County leaders. Hall and Moore were asked about the construction of the Ohio River Bridges Project and the affect it will have on Charlestown and Jeffersonville.

Hall said there’s not one specific area to focus on when it comes to preparing for the bridges, but that the region as a whole must be ready to deal with all aspects of growth that will come with the project, both economic and in terms of population.

He likened the current era of the coming bridge additions and the boom of the River Ridge Commerce Center to the 1940s when the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant opened and Charlestown’s population quickly grew.

“There is so much opportunity and future for this area,” Hall said.

The bridges project has international companies eyeing Jeffersonville, Moore said.

“We are in a very, very good situation,” he said.

The Big Four Bridge project, which is slated to be finished in August, will also serve as a quality-of-life enhancement for the community while also improving business in Southern Indiana, Moore said.

The pedestrian bridge will connect Jeffersonville with Louisville’s Waterfront Park, and on a bigger scale, will serve as a link along the Ohio River Greenway with Clarksville.

“I can’t imagine having a better asset dropped in our lap than the Big Four Bridge,” Moore said.

He added that Jeffersonville has received commitments from multiple restaurants looking to open downtown near the bridge ramp and surrounding park.

Though he didn’t provide specific names, Moore said the goal is to create an “ethnic flair” of eateries in downtown Jeffersonville.

He pointed to the success New Albany has enjoyed over the past five years in attracting new and diverse restaurants to its downtown and said Jeffersonville hopes to produce a similar scene.

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