GLI/John Launius

John Launius, GLI’s acting vice president

Greater Louisville has a strong and growing technology ecosystem. And beyond the tech-focused companies, scads of local companies rely heavily on technology—after all, it’s not just planes and trucks that keep UPS packages moving.

To prompt further growth, Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI) launched TechFirst, a network whose mission is to support and grow Greater Louisville’s technology ecosystem through the development of talent pipelines, a strong innovation culture, and resources.

Louisville Future talked with John Launius, GLI’s acting vice president of regional economic development, to learn more.

How did the new network come about?

Launius: We had a number of events and efforts centered on 2019 being the Year of Technology. We convened industry leaders in technology and conducted a number of meetings, focus groups, and roundtables to better understand their needs and to better understand the assets here within the region.

That really coalesced with a visioning committee that was formed—about 20 individuals primarily within the tech or tech-supported ecosystem. That committee adopted a visioning report and identified that there was a need in our community to create a more formalized structure to support and promote opportunities within that industry.

The visioning report talks as much about talent and culture as it does about infrastructure. Why?

Launius: You can kind of see the intersection of all those focus areas to really meet the ultimate need of the companies, which is to make sure our community has a compelling environment for the talent to come to, for the talent to maintain and be afforded professional and personal opportunities to make Greater Louisville their home.

What are next steps for TechFirst?

Launius: These strategic initiatives will now be supported by a guiding team that will comprise 12 to 18 C-suite leaders throughout the region. The first step in that was identifying our inaugural chair, and Stacy Griggs with El Toro has agreed to serve in that capacity. After we put the guiding team together, the next step will be to have kind of an invite-only meeting with either early adopters of TechFirst or those targets that we’re looking at recruiting.

How does TechFirst relate to groups like Bit 502 and LouTechWorks?

Launius: We want to be a complement to a lot of the work that’s being done. We want to celebrate all the businesses as well as the professional development organizations and academic institutions.

And inaugural membership is free, right?

Launius: We’re offering a complimentary membership to TechFirst for GLI members and non-GLI members. We want to make sure nobody feels late to the table and that they hear us sincerely opening this as an opportunity to get in at the ground floor to really help us build and shape this as we move forward.