Editor’s note: The original version of the post misidentified Wayne Estopinal.
Welcome to the June 2 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.
A reminder: Insiders Meetups is taking a hiatus until Monday, June 16, when we’ll reconvene with a special economic-development panel at Harvest restaurant. Details to follow.
We thought as we approached summer, things would quiet down a bit. Maybe even an opportunity for a break ….
Two words: No. Way.
Running toward opportunity
• In last week’s Monday Business Briefing, we told you Cobalt Ventures founder and chairman Todd Blue is leaving Louisville. In a detailed interview last Friday, Blue confirmed he is moving his family to Houston this summer. We asked then what this says about Our Fair City.
But Blue said, “I’m not running away from Louisville. I’m running toward opportunity,” focusing on new exotic car dealerships in Texas and California. He told MBB he’s been commuting between Louisville and Houston for five years. Now, with new luxury auto dealerships in Houston and California, Houston is the operational center of his IndiGO Auto Group business operations, “and underline operational,” he said.
“I’m not leaving Louisville in some sort of protest. This is a beautiful, beautiful city,” he said. But it doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines to figure out Blue sees Louisville as a parochial city, where “too few people have too much power,” a city that’s not participating in any meaningful way in the current national economic upswing. In other cities, their skylines are thick with construction cranes, he said. In Louisville, the last skyscraper went up more than a decade ago.
Blue’s most pointed criticism is for University of Louisville and its president, James Ramsey, over what Blue views as local leadership valuing U of L’s growth over the private sector.
Compared to Louisville, where Blue was excoriated for proposals to turn the east side of Whiskey Row into a parking lot, he’s been embraced by the media in Houston since buying a Lamborghini dealership there in 2011.
And those media are full of stories about whether their high rate of growth rate can be – or even should be – maintained. From a post in the Houston Business Journal, a sister publication of Business First.
“We are already seeing a slowdown in Houston from incredibly high levels of job growth (last year), but that’s a good thing,” said Patrick Jankowski, the Greater Houston Partnership’s vice president of research. “Creating 115,000 jobs a year is not normal, not sustainable and not desirable. At 75,000 jobs a year, we can build the apartments, build the houses and pave the roads to support that kind of job growth.”
We’ll have a full post later.