Just last week, we learned that Owensboro was ranked as the #6 small metro in the United States for job growth in 2013 (up from #21 in 2012). And today, we celebrate another great accolade: According to Garner Economics, there were only 11 markets in the South that have seen wage growth in each of the past 24 months. Southern Business & Development used this metric to rank the top ten economic development markets in the South—and Owensboro made the list, joining metros like Winston-Salem, NC; Brownsville, TX; Jefferson, MS and many more. The article cites Owensboro as one of two Kentucky markets that have seen double-digit wage growth and rising wages each of the last 24 months. To read the entire breakdown, please click here.
Also, thank you to Adam Paris of AP Imagery for taking the awesome photograph of the new park!
Every spring on the second weekend in May, Downtown Owensboro comes alive with the smell of our world-famous down-home cuisine and thousands of visitors descend upon our little city for a weekend of food, fun, and just about everything else!
This year’s festival promises to be the biggest one yet with the newly-completed Smothers Park and riverfront. The weekend’s special events are listed below. Please click here to visit the festival’s website or here for a map of all the activity locations. We look forward to seeing you there!!
At the conclusion of the Easter season, just before Palm Sunday, members of the congregation at First Christian Church: Disciples of Christ awoke to the news that the church they called home (complete with one of the most beautiful sanctuaries one could ever encounter) was engulfed in flames—a victim of an apparent lightning strike. This beautiful church—sitting at the southern end of Downtown Owensboro—was gone.
Here in Owensboro, Kentucky, we look out for one another. We recognize that we’re all in this together. We are a community that cares about our neighbors. We are truly honored that a group of businesses in our Downtown has agreed to donate a portion of their sales from this Saturday (April 20) to the missions of First Christian Church.
“The downtown community is one that thats about each other. All of these wonderful store fronts, bars, resaturants, are all saying that we’re here to take care of each other and one of ours is hurting, ” said Ben Skiadas, manager at Famous Bistro.
We are so lucky to live in such a caring and compassionate community. If you would like to patronize these establishments on Saturday, please look for stores with a benefit flyer in the window.
On Saturday, March 30th, the Owensboro community will have an opportunity to view a wide range of exciting local and regional independent films.
The Daviess County Public Library will host Verite Cinema’s special one night benefit Unscripted: Series One – Screen for a Cure to garner donations for Family Video’s national charity drive for The Lymphoma Research Foundation. The evening will be a recap of the wildly successful first season of local/regional independent films from Series One including They Said They Were Here To Help, The Red Box, Bumsicle and A Mind Beside Itself. There will be a free charity concert starting at 4 pm in the Library Courtyard with music by Jordan Bonner Fuller featuring Heather Rose, Gypsylifter, Mollie Garrigan and Pat Ballard with Johnny Keyz. This concert is sponsored by the online entertainment magazine Sugg Street Post.
At 6 pm the doors to the screening room will open to begin showing the local/regional independent films. All those who attend will have a chance to meet each filmmaker as well as discuss the films during the event’s unique live audio commentary experience. We will have a special appearance by Lee Goldberg from Hollywood, California via Skype during the BUMSICLE commentary. The event is free to attend and donations will be collected by a Family Video representative that will be on site. There will be free drinks, popcorn, door prizes and a silent auction. All donations collected will be handled by Family Video to be given to The Lymphoma Research Foundation to help their cause. This event is sponsored by Owensboro Music Center, Sugg Street Post and Family Video.
Films include: BUMSICLE with Writer/Director Lee Goldberg Firelight Entertainment Group; THE RED BOX with Writer/Director Max Moore; THEY SAID THEY WERE HERE TO HELP with Writer/Director David Bonnell; and A MIND BESIDE ITSELF with Writer/Director P.J. Starks.
Come out and support local artists and films—it is sure to be a great time!
This morning, the City of Owensboro joined developers Tim Turner and Mike Baker in announcing a new restaurant concept that will be constructed adjacent to the Riverfront Crossing in the spring of this year. The City of Owensboro and Turner-Baker LLC reached a preliminary agreement in December 2012 that involved the transfer of the parcel to the developer to construct the two-story, 4,120 square foot building. The project will involve an investment of $900,000 and will include two residential units.
Mayor Ron Payne commented, “The vision the Owensboro’s citizens had for their downtown revitalization very much continues to become a reality because of businesses like Fetta Specialty Pizza & Spirits. We are proud to welcome the new owners to the ranks of our fine downtown business culture.”
“We are very excited and humbled that the City of Owensboro has chosen Fetta Specialty Pizza & Sprits to be a part of the revitalization of Downtown Owensboro. This business model will be unique to Owensboro—our mission is not to be a new restaurant but rather a community destination for both citizens and visitors alike. Our proposed mixed-use building at Riverfront Crossing will include ample outdoor seating and residential spaces for downtown living. Our team is comprised of local individuals who have a passion for a producing a quality product and a hospitable environment,” said project developer Tim Turner.
Fetta Specialty Pizza & Spirits is the latest private project announced for Downtown Owensboro since the adoption of the Gateway Master Plan in 2009, which has resulted in over $90 million in private investment.
Excerpted from Urban Land.
Why do people—especially talented Creative Class people, who have lots of choices—opt to locate in certain places? What draws them to some places and not to others? Economists and social scientists have paid a great deal of attention to the location decisions of companies, but they have virtually ignored how people, especially creative people, make the same choices.
This question first began to vex me more than a decade ago. In search of answers, I began by simply asking people how they made their decisions about where to live and work. I started with my students and colleagues and then turned to friends and associates in other cities. Eventually, I began to ask virtually everyone I met. Ultimately, in the mid-2000s, I put the question at the heart of a major survey I conducted along with the Gallup Organization. The same answers came back time and again.
Place itself, I began to realize, was the key factor. So much so, that I coined a term—quality of place—to sum it up. I use the term in contrast with the more traditional concept of quality of life to cover the unique set of characteristics that define a place and make it attractive. Over time, my colleagues and I have come to refer to these characteristics as Territorial Assets, the fourth T of economic development after Technology, Talent, and Tolerance (what I have elsewhere called the 3Ts of Economic Growth).
Generally, one can think of quality of place as cutting across three key dimensions:
What’s going on: the vibrancy of the street life, café culture, arts, and music; the visible presence of people engaging in outdoor activities—altogether a lot of active, exciting, creative goings-ons.
Quality of place can be summed up as an interrelated set of experiences. Many, like those provided by the street-level scene, are dynamic and participatory. You can do more than be a spectator; you can become a part of the scene. But while the street buzz is there to be found if you want it, you can also retreat to your home or some other quiet place, chill out in an urban park, or even set out for the country.
Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, to trade views and spar over issues. A person’s circle of closest friends might not resemble the Rainbow Coalition—in fact, it usually doesn’t—but creatives want the rainbow to be available.
Authenticity—as in real buildings, real people, real history—is key. A place that’s full of chain stores, chain restaurants, and chain nightclubs is seen as inauthentic. Not only do those venues look pretty much the same everywhere, but they also offer the same experiences you could have anywhere.
Many members of the Creative Class want to have a hand in shaping their communities’ quality of place. Years ago, I attended a meeting of a downtown revitalization group in Providence, Rhode Island. One participant remarked, “My friends and I came to Providence because it already has the authenticity that we like—its established neighborhoods, historic architecture, and ethnic mix.” He went on to implore the group’s leaders to make those qualities the basis of their revitalization efforts and to do so in ways that actively harnessed his and his peers’ energy. Or as he aptly put it, “We want a place that’s not done.”
Quality of place does not occur automatically; it is an ongoing, dynamic process that engages a number of disparate aspects of a community. Like most good things, it is not altogether good: what looks like neighborhood revitalization from one perspective is gentrification from another. Rising housing values often go hand-in-hand with the displacement of long-term residents, a serious problem that demands a serious response.
Interestingly, a counterintuitive trend in current research suggests that gentrification is less disruptive of some neighborhoods than it has been given credit for. According to a study by Columbia University’s Lance Freeman intended for publication next year by the Journal of the American Planning Association, even when controlling for factors like age, race, and overcrowding, gentrifying neighborhoods retain poor households at a higher rate than do nongentrifying ones. Obviously, his study will be tested and challenged; but even if its statistical findings hold up, it bears remembering that gentrification imposes other tolls on long-term residents, even if they are able to remain in their homes.
Two often-overlooked factors that go into quality of place are the thickness of the mating market (only 48 percent of U.S. households include a married couple today) and, seemingly paradoxically, quasi-anonymity. Most people don’t want to live in tightly knit communities, with neighbors figuratively peering over back fences into their lives. Life in modern communities revolves around a set of looser ties that allows us to admit a greater variety of people and information into our lives.
An attractive place doesn’t have to be a big city, but it does have to be cosmopolitan—seething with the interplay of culture and ideas, where outsiders can quickly become insiders and anyone can find a peer group to be comfortable with and groups to be stimulated by. In her book Cosmopolitan Culture, Bonnie Menes Kahn says a great city has two hallmarks: tolerance for strangers and intolerance for mediocrity. These are precisely the qualities that appeal to members of the Creative Class—and they also happen to be qualities conducive to innovation, risk taking, and the formation of new businesses.
Some critics claim that jobs are the only amenities that truly matter. I point them to the Knight Soul of the Community study, which is an expanded version of the survey I began with Gallup years ago. “After interviewing close to 43,000 people in 26 communities over three years,” the Knight Foundation and Gallup concluded in 2011, “the study has found that three main qualities attach people to place: social offerings, such as entertainment venues and places to meet; openness (how welcoming a place is); and the area’s aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces).”
Some of my critics argue that my focus on quality of place, especially in regard to artistic scenes and diversity, is a trendy pose. Pointing to sprawling tech enclaves like the suburbs of northern Virginia, Silicon Valley, or the outer rings of Seattle, they make the point that the people who work in high-tech industries actually prefer traditional suburban lifestyles. My response is simple: all of those places are located within major metropolitan areas that are among the most diverse in the country. As colorless and bland as those suburbs might appear to some, they are constituent parts of a broader milieu. Silicon Valley, for example, can’t be understood without reference to the 1960s counterculture of the wider San Francisco Bay area—Esalen, the Grateful Dead, the Summer of Love, the Black Panthers, Harvey Milk, the Castro, and all. Had Silicon Valley not been receptive to offbeat longhairs like the young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, it could not have become what it is today.
What people want is not an either/or proposition. Successful places do not provide just one thing; they provide a range of quality-of-place options for different kinds of people at different stages in their lives. Great cities and metro areas are not monoliths. As Jane Jacobs said long ago, they are federations of neighborhoods.
Think about New York City and its environs. When they first move to New York, young people cluster in relatively funky places like the East Village, South Slope, Williamsburg, or Hoboken, where there are lots of other young people, the rent is more affordable, and roommate situations can be found. When they earn a little more, they move to the Upper West Side or maybe Fort Greene or Jackson Heights; earn a little more, and they can trade up to the West Village or the Upper East Side. Once marriage and children come along, some stay in the city while others relocate to bedroom communities in places like Westchester County, Connecticut, or the New Jersey suburbs. Later, when the kids are gone, some of these people buy a co-op overlooking Central Park or a duplex on the Upper East Side. Members of the Creative Class come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and lifestyles. To be truly successful, cities and regions must offer something for all of them.
Quality of place defines the very soul of a successful community; the factors that go into it—aesthetic, cultural, demographic—add up to the things that everyone wants in their communities. This is not to say that jobs, schools, and safety do not also matter. Of course they do. But those who frame the issue as an either/or proposition—jobs or scenes, quality of life or basic services—are offering a false choice. In my book Who’s Your City?, I likened what we want in our communities to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Just as we want more from our lives than the mere basics of bodily subsistence, we also want more from our communities.
Quality of place is not a frill; it is a necessity.
This weekend, Owensboro audiences will be treated to a Pulitzer-Prize winning masterpiece as the Theatre Workshop of Owensboro presents Rabbit Hole. The play has been heralded around the world for its honesty and naturalism in exploring themes of loss and grief—it received five Tony Award nominations, including Best Play.
Performances begin February 1st and run through February 17th. Tickets may be purchased by calling the TWO Box Office at (270) 683-5333 or online at www.theatreworkshop.org. Trust us, you won’t want to miss this amazing cast perform this remarkable and challenging piece of work.
From Verite Cinema, the group that brings you The River City Festival of Films and The Indie Film Series, in association with the Daviess County Public Library brings you UNSCRIPTED; the latest independent film series experience. This six week series offers the best local and regional indie fare—however, this is more than just your average screening. Following a question and answer session with the filmmaker, the audience is asked to view the film a second time and participate in a live interactive audio commentary. Ask questions as the filmmaker, along with cast and crew, discusses the various facets of filmmaking as you view their project. What film venue would be complete without drinks and popcorn, all FREE and provided by local sponsor donations. There will also be special door prizes and give aways. The film event is free to the public and takes place every Friday starting January 11th until Friday, February 15th, 2013.
Friday, January 11th, 2013 – BUMSICLE w/ Firelight Entertainment Group & Actor Todd Reynolds
Friday, January 18th, 2013 – THE WINDY HOLLOW BOYS w/ Director Rick Miller
Friday, January 25th, 2013 – A DREAM UNDONE w/ Director Jeremy Bronaugh & Actor Grant Niezgodski; THE RED BOX w/ Director Max Moore
Friday, February 1st, 2013 – OBSOLESCENCE w/ Director Jakob Bilinski; THEY SAID THEY WERE HERE TO HELP w/ Director David Bonnell
Friday, February 8th, 2013 – MONKEY MOCHA FANTASTIQUE w/ Director William Wallace
Friday, February 15th, 2013 – A MIND BESIDE ITSELF w/ Director P.J. Starks & Actress Lori Rosas
This next level series is hosted through a partnership with the Daviess County Public Library and sponsored by 97X Owensboro’s best rock and Family Video. For more information visit the event’s Facebook page.
This Saturday, December 1st, the streets of Downtown Owensboro will be filled with the Christmas spirit as Owensboroans enjoy the 5th Annual Holiday Stroll!
The Stroll, which is sponsored by We Are Downtown, Inc., includes storefront entertainment from Clay Street to Smothers Park on Second and Third Streets. Second Street will be closed to traffic from Daviess to Frederica to allow pedestrians to walk the streets, sip hot chocolate, shop and kick off the Christmas season! Last year’s event drew thousands, and we are hoping for an even better turnout this year…oh, and did we mention we now have one of the best riverfront parks in the U.S. as part of the Stroll?!
At 5:00 p.m., Mayor Payne and other officials will be on-hand for the official lighting of the Downtown Christmas tree. Please take a look at the graphics above to see the great variety of entertainment that will be featured in this year’s event. There is literally something for everyone!
Happy Holidays friends! We hope to see you on Saturday!