GLI Leadership Expedition 2014: Learning from Charlotte
Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal joined Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, and 300 other business and community leaders from Kentucky’s largest cities for GLI’s 2014 Leadership Expedition in Charlotte, NC.
Greater Louisville Inc. held the event in Charlotte because it is a high-growth city that companies in the commonwealth can learn from. When asked what contributes to Charlotte’s success, Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal says “Charlotte has created an amazing downtown environment and business community with shops, restaurants, sports, entertainment, and stadiums. That drew the best and brightest people to come work in Charlotte’s business-friendly environment.” And what lessons can other cities draw from that? “In short, cities need to make moves or make way.”
This mantra challenges Kentucky’s largest cities to adopt similar methods for improving their communities. For Louisville, Gopal gives examples of what that change looks like: “We’ve started to do some of the things Charlotte is doing here in Louisville. The University is creating the talent. The Yum! Center is bringing the entertainment. The Nulu district and Portland are creating a unique place. But cranes still need to go up in the air so that we can be perceived as a high-growth city. Once we show that we are a high growth city, that will persuade graduates to move here, residents to stay here, and opportunity to thrive here.”
Another emphasis of the 2014 Leadership Expedition was collaboration. When asked about collaboration between the state’s largest cities, Louisville and Lexington, Gopal says “There is definitely competition between communities that extend beyond the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. But both cities have the same problems that Charlotte had before it did something about it.”
Gopal gives an example: “Years ago, all the banks in Charlotte decided to work together to bring in business, talent, and more people into their community. This helped create a great place to work, live, and do business. Lexington, Louisville, and the whole state of Kentucky need to similarly work together to bring in talent. Once that talent is here, local companies can start competing again for the best and brightest. These are the people, the companies, and leadership that will contribute and make long-term impacts in our community.”
Gopal stresses the importance of collaboration throughout Kentucky’s businesses and communities adding, “Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro, Bowling Green, have all made a good start, but it now needs to be a more consolidated and targeted effort, led by Frankfort. And frankly, if this doesn’t happen, we will find ourselves like Cincinnati, who lost some of their best companies, saw a mass exodus of people leaving the city, and had their airport shrink from 600 to 100 flights per day.”