Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

April 5, 2012

Abramson praises teamwork

BELLEFONTE — As the former mayor of Louisville, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson knows a few things about life in a river town.

Abramson praised members of the Ashland Alliance during a luncheon speech at Bellefonte Country Club on Wednesday, citing “the importance of working as a region” when it comes to economic development.

“You guys are doing it right,” Abramson said, encouraging the alliance to take advantage of proximity to the Ohio River for development of business and industry as well as quality-of-life concerns.

“You are as competitive as anybody in Kentucky,” he added, noting the river gives local cities a natural advantage officials in other areas would be thrilled to have.

Abramson said local officials should stress the river provides a more affordable method of transport than railroads for manufacturers and other industries, and the riverfront itself can be a crucial component of the area’s social and recreational complexion. Recalling a time when truck drivers referred to Louisville as “Junk Town” because of its industrial appearance, Abramson said a great deal of time, effort and money was required to transform the city’s waterfront and revitalize public perception about the place.

“We decided to return it, part of it, to the people,” Abramson said, explaining the city had “turned its back on the river,” allowing it to become unattractive and industrialized and essentially rejecting the very thing that caused the city to prosper in the first place. When people were asked about what they wanted along the river, he said officials were surprised to hear an overwhelming desire for open spaces instead of things like restaurants and clubs.

“We tend to forget these cities and communities were established because of the river,” he said.

While elected officials may face criticism for funding improvements or development of things like parks and other public spaces, Abramson said quality-of-life issues are the first thing a business or industry representative will want to know about when considering a new location or expansion.

He said the effort to transform Louisville’s waterfront required a combination of private-sector funding and federal, state and local money, Abramson said, confirming the renovation created “a vital part” of the city.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at

tpreston@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2651.

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