When Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) welcomed a group of business site selectors for the metro chamber of commerce’s Familiarization (Fam) Tour, Louisville Water stepped up again in its role as a partner in regional economic development initiatives.
With the Louisville region’s burgeoning bourbon industry in mind, GLI officials paired up Louisville Water and Maker’s Mark bourbon for a bourbon and water tasting event on Nov. 14 at the Kentucky Derby Museum for a fun and informative experience for the visitors. As one of a wide variety of learning opportunities during their visit, the tasting provided the chance to tell site selectors about the significance of the bourbon industry along with the importance of Louisville’s high-quality, good-tasting water as a key ingredient in bourbon.
That’s one example of how Louisville Water participates in GLI’s economic development efforts. Unlike typical water utilities, Louisville Water works to promote the Louisville region as a great place for businesses to locate — especially given the abundance, affordability and high quality of the water.
“The Fam Tour bourbon and water tasting event gives Louisville Water a chance to tell an important audience about our abundance of water and its affordability while the tasting experience proves the high quality part of our message,” said Kelley Dearing Smith, Louisville Water’s Vice President of Communication and Marketing. “We appreciate GLI including us in the event so site selectors hear our positive water story that extends throughout the Louisville region.”
GLI sees value in its partnership with Louisville Water as well. “When it comes to promoting the significance of our regional economy, we have that mission in common with Louisville Water,” said Deana Epperly Karem, GLI’s Vice President for Regional Economic Growth. “They’re an extension of us, and we’re an extension of them.”
Karem described the collaboration between GLI and Louisville Water as effective teamwork.
Representatives of both groups meet periodically to discuss strategy and put the plans they come up with into action. “They are a huge contributor of ideas,” she said. “They know how to market the regional economy. Louisville Water is part of that branding.”
GLI also had Louisville Water’s support during the September 2018 GLIDE trip to Denver. The annual excursions give Louisville executives an opportunity to visit another city and learn best practices and potential opportunities from that business community. Louisville Water invested in the GLIDE trip as a sponsor and also provided refillable water bottles with Louisville Water branding to everyone on the trip. Louisville Water President and CEO Spencer Bruce was among the GLIDE participants.
“The GLIDE trip provided a great opportunity to learn about the Denver business community and its successes, and I’m glad I had the chance to participate,” Bruce said. “But even more than that, the experience was a terrific way to build rapport with other Louisville executives and share Louisville Water’s story with them.”
Karem said she appreciates Louisville Water’s support of the GLIDE trip and noticed the refillable bottles being used throughout the group’s days in Denver. “It was pretty cool, and people held onto them throughout the trip,” she said. “Spencer would come over and take a picture of us with our water bottles.”
The refillable bottles accomplished their intended environmentally friendly mission of reducing use of plastic bottles, Karem noted. But, she added, the bottles “provided lots of visibility for the Louisville Water brand.”
The involvement in GLIDE helped participants see Louisville Water “more as a quality employer and quality brand than just a utility,” Karem said.
Beyond participation in special economic development events, Louisville Water also plays a role in supporting GLI’s ongoing economic development efforts when it courts businesses considering locating or expanding in the Louisville area. “They are great ambassadors,” Karem said.
If a prospect is in the food and beverage industry, Louisville Water is called in to talk about water quality and availability, Karem said. “They want to know the science about the water and how abundant it is here,” she said of food and beverage companies. “They will definitely ask that.”
Louisville Water representatives meet with prospects and give details about the abundance, affordability and high quality of the water. But they also tell how their staff scientists will go on site with companies and help them develop the precise scientific balance suited for their products.
“Louisville Water is one of the best partners we have in economic development,” Karem said. “They want to do the right thing for the client — even if it’s not a larger water user. They are problem solvers with a creative spirit.”