Welcome to the Dec. 8 Monday Business Briefing.
This is your private business intelligence briefing with Insider Louisville staff and contributors vetting tips collected during the past few days, hours and minutes before we post.
If you’re like us and the Internet is integral to your daily existence, chances are you’ve cursed the absence of a speedy connection in this town. Well according to one city leader, it’s more than just a pesky annoyance and could be bad for business in Louisville.
But first, an insider pointed us in the direction of some job losses on the advertising front…
Layoffs at ad firm Current 360
For the second week in a row, we have bad ad-agency news to report: The Louisville-based advertising firm Current 360 laid off five workers on Thursday, leaving it with a total workforce of 38, down from nearly 50 in 2012.
Firm CEO Rick Schardein said the actions were prompted by the firm losing a large account. “It necessitated letting some people we really liked go,” he says.
The workers were creatives at the firm, with one media assistant also laid off. Three of the layoffs took place in Louisville, and two occurred at the firm’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., location.
Schardein wouldn’t say which account was lost as Current will continue working with them through early 2015.
The laid-off workers are receiving severance packages. “It’s not like see ya’ later, you’re out of here,” Schardein says. “They’re like family to us. This is an unfortunate reality of business.”
A source had told Insider that Current 360 was moving to a commission-only payment structure for some employees, a claim Schardein emphatically denied.
The source also said there had been other layoffs in recent years, which, again, Schardein denied, saying some employees had been terminated, and others had left, but there had been no prior layoffs.
IL also heard from this same source that senior execs at the firm are taking pay-cuts, but Schardein declined to comment. He added there were no other cost-cutting measures being implemented currently.
Last week, MBB reported that ad firm Scoppechio (formerly Creative Alliance) recently laid off close to 10 employees.
Ted Smith: Slow Internet could result in Louisville losing businesses
Literally as these words are being typed, a sluggish Internet connection is making this writer mutter obscenities. It’s a problem that plagues much of Louisville — residents and businesses alike. And according to Ted Smith, chief of civic innovation at Louisville Metro Government, the city is at risk of losing business to competitors both bigger and smaller if it doesn’t find a way to make high-speed Internet connectivity happen — sooner rather than later.
Louisville has long wanted to radically update it’s sub-optimal Internet connectivity, most publicly by applying to be a so-called “Google Fiber” city, where the tech-firm would lay the lines. This has not come to pass. Metro Louisville also has awarded franchises to lay fiber to two firms, Sifi Networks and BluegrassNet … but this hasn’t come to pass either, as they haven’t figured out how to do it profitably.
And so, we wait… potentially dissuading businesses from operating in Louisville in the meantime.
According to Smith, businesses of all sizes need high-speed connectivity, but especially those with off-site workers using the net to send large files.
This brought to mind Warby Parker, the hip glasses e-tailer that ended up passing on Louisville, instead locating in Nashville. When asked whether slow Internet was a factor in Warby Parker’s decision, Smith said, “There was a list of things that company had in mind; I’m sure this was on the list.”
Currently, Louisville doesn’t have any real answers for the many firms that need this kind of speed. “It would be hard to argue that’s not relevant to having a vital economy,” Smith says.
To make this a reality, according to Smith, various things need to happen, starting with those who want high-speed Internet becoming more vocal, especially when it comes to showing up at public meetings that deal with this issue. “These kinds of things don’t succeed without demonstrating demand,” he says.
IL will have more from Smith and his thoughts on Louisville’s absence of high-speed Internet connectivity in a longer post later today.