Louisville Needs Better Marketing to Enhance National Reputation

City Livability Awards report cover graphic
Louisville was the top city in the nation for livability in 2008. But just a year later it doesn’t crack the Top 15? Makes you wonder.

Each day my little electronic minions spider across the interwebs to find news items related to Louisville KY, local real estate and other assorted topics.

They do their job fairly well; quite well when you consider what I’m paying them.

My scouts report back with titles like Best Places to Live With the Lowest Cost of Living (Kiplinger) and Safest U.S. Cities for Families with Young Children (Sperling’s) all touting the great attributes of our city—Louisville, Kentucky.

Keep in mind that many of these awards are the work of a single author combing through piles of data, building an equation that may or may not accurately describe their stated goal then finally publishing a “report” with bold claims that ultimately are designed to capture readership.

Most awards should be taken with a grain (or 100) of salt.

That doesn’t stop people like me from trumpeting every triumph. Heck, Louisville is my city and I’ll praise it as much as I can! I just think Louisville needs better marketing.

Other awards are more political in nature. Take, for instance, the City Livability Awards. In 2008, Louisville was awarded the Most Livable Large City in America (.pdf). Awesome! Right? Well… wouldn’t logic say that if a city were #1 in a given year that in following year it deserved to be in the Top 15? It’s not like a natural disaster flattened our city between award ceremonies.

Alas, it appears that while “winners are selected by an independent panel of judges” sounds fair enough, the award might have more to do with the award sponsor, Waste Management, and which city mayors are most active in the United States Conference of Mayors. Politics.

So why do I make my claim that our national perception should rise to match the accuracy of the facts?

I could cite our great low cost-of-living numbers (affordability of Louisville housing, low utility rates, etc.), highlight a few of our treasured local landmarks, describe our incredible parks and water locales. Instead, I’d like to tell a personal story that I share with many of my clients who are relocating to Louisville from another part of the country:

I used to work for a local technology company that was a national leader in its field. Eventually this company was sold to a large multinational that decided to combine some disparate pieces in one geographical location… Rochester, NY.

I’ll admit it was a hard sell but the pay, benefits and work environment were truly top notch. We had 108 employees and each was offered a relocation package to move to Rochester and continue working for a best-in-breed business. Care to guess how many took the deal? Seven. Only, seven.

The rest of us chose to stay home, even if that meant looking for a new job and whatever pitfalls came along with it. You see, home was Louisville and people love Louisville.

So when one of my spiders brings back news that Louisville is one of America’s Top 10 Underrated Cities, I smile and say, “Now that’s a report I can believe.”