Update: Former Mercy Academy site under contract

The old Mercy Academy | Google Maps

The old Mercy Academy | Google Maps

We told you last month about a flurry of new activity at the old Mercy Academy site on East Broadway, which has been vacant since 2007. Now it’s under contract, confirms broker Rhonda Karageorge of Commonwealth Commercial Real Estate.

Details are scarce because of a confidentiality agreement, but insiders tell IL to look for multifamily housing and possibly a mixed-use development at the 80,000-square-foot former girls’ school. The sprawling campus, which Mercy still owns, was last valued at $2.3 million in 2010, according to the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator. Mercy President Mike Johnson didn’t return a call for comment from IL.

Two previous attempts to redevelop the site — first into Wayside’s women and children’s facility, and later a rehab facility — failed under neighborhood pressure. But the third time might be the charm. This has the potential to spur some real movement along an otherwise sleepy connector corridor between the Highlands/Germantown/Phoenix Hill and east downtown.

Brookings: KY and manufacturers partner to close skills gap

brookingsBack in Nov. 2013, the Brookings Institution collaborated with the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) to produce a report about the economic state of the 22-county region between Louisville and Lexington.

The report, “Seizing the manufacturing moment: an economic growth plan for the Bluegrass region of Kentucky,” had a tone of urgency, emphasizing that in many important ways, Kentucky had fallen behind as the rest of the mechanized world embraced advanced manufacturing with zeal and fervor:

“From 2000 to 2012, the region’s overall employment, total economic output and productivity … all lagged behind the national rates. Those trends reflected … increasing concentrations of lower wages and less productive jobs.”

Now, Brookings has taken a new look at worker skills in the region, and it sees a lot of improvement.

In a Brookings post this week, Amy Liu and Rachel Barker give kudos to how area manufacturers are working to bridge the skills gap. They note how GE Appliances and 11 other Louisville manufacturers have collaborated to start a local chapter of the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, a partnership of regional manufacturers and higher-learning institutions designed to help apprentice a tech-savvy, skilled workforce. Some of the locals include Atlas Machine & Supply, Clariant Corporation, nth/works, Paradise Tomato, Westport Axle and the Zoeller Company.

Brookings also notes that the Louisville chapter of KY FAME will partner with Jefferson Community and Technical College, with a goal to put together a class of 22 students by this fall. A similar model is already in operation in the Lexington area, where high school students have joined up with Toyota in the Advanced Manufacturing Technician program, a paid apprenticeship where students learn advanced manufacturing skills. Students also gain experience on a plant floor.

Brookings was impressed:

“Toyota, GE, and their partner manufacturers are proving that employers can drive solutions to the skills gap. Firms can work collectively, rather than individually, to develop programs at scale that build a pipeline of young workers ready to enter careers in manufacturing and other sectors. “