You're home in Owensboro

Call it a marketing ploy. Call it a boomerang campaign. Call it whatever you want.

This isn’t about putting up a good front. This isn’t about grassroots versus astroturf. In fact, we’ll be quite upfront with you about our agenda.

You see, Owensboro, Kentucky’s about more than just barbecue, bluegrass, and a bridge. It’s a place to call home, even from across the ocean (or at least the Ohio). And if you never realized this before, then you’ve certainly tumbled onto the right page.

After all, that’s what this page is about: bringing a bit of home, a bit of Owensboro, directly to you, regardless of which zip code you’re in now.

Basically, the plan here is to present you an authentic, though likely at least somewhat still biased, picture of what’s going on here at home. So get ready.

This is about community, and this is about home.

You’re home in Owensboro.


(Project of GO-EDC)

The brand new Owensboro Convention Center opens in January 2014. Some lucky folks got a sneak peek of the building last week. Enjoy! 

Happy Friday, friends! We’ve been a bit quiet lately and for good reason—tons of things are happening in Owensboro! But, that’s no excuse for our  tumblr to be as quiet as it has been, so we hope you will forgive our little sabbatical. As much as we love bragging about all of the wonderful things happening in Owensboro, we also enjoy searching for interesting stories from other cities. The story below is an inspiring one, and we hope we can be as successful as our friends in Cleveland have been in the coming years. Enjoy!

From Atlantic Cities

When the Maron family decided to redevelop an entire city block in downtown Cleveland, the area was so blighted no restaurateur would lease space there. A decade later, the East Fourth neighborhood is home to Food Network personalities, a House of Blues, and free Saturday yoga classes. Café-style seating spills into the pedestrian-only street. Apartments on the block are fully leased, and a 100-unit building under construction across the street has already reached full capacity.

The success of East Fourth Street in once-struggling Cleveland was something few people would have anticipated 20 years ago. It took years of collaboration between developers, businesses, local institutions, and government, but today downtown Cleveland is taking off—and giving the old Rust Belt city a future. There wasn’t a market for urban living in Cleveland until developers like the Marons built places where young professionals would want to be.

"Employers are looking for fresh, vibrant urban environments," says Chris Warren, the city’s chief of regional development. "Cleveland needs to compete." Until recently, Cleveland was on the sidelines. The city’s population has dropped by one-third since 1950. Although Cleveland includes two neighborhoods that are among Ohio’s top five employment centers, tax revenues from incomes go primarily to the suburbs where most employees live. As recently as 2011, about one-third of city residents lived in poverty.

When Ari Maron graduated from Rice University in 2000, he came home to Cleveland to find that most of his childhood friends had moved to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. “None of them lived in neighborhoods like we grew up in,” Maron says. He realized that if Cleveland were to retain—let alone attract—young professionals, the city’s downtown would have to offer more than just office space.

Maron joined his dad’s contracting and development company, MRN Ltd., which had just turned a building on East Fourth Street into apartments and started to renovate a hotel in the same neighborhood. At the time, these were considered risky projects. East Fourth Street was a center for prostitution and drug dealing—not exactly a robust housing market. But the street was also close to public transit, the Cleveland Indians’ new ballpark, and the historic theater district. Maron decided to aim even higher: to turn East Fourth into an entertainment district.

Developers were reluctant to invest in urban residential and mixed-use projects in an unproven market. An urban development in a distressed area is a significantly more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming endeavor than planting a subdivision in open space. “It took us eight years just to buy all the property, and we got no returns for that period of time,” Maron says. It helped that MRN wasn’t beholden to preconceptions about how to make money in real estate. Its leadership consisted of Maron, a trained violinist; his dad, a contractor; and his brother, an accountant.

Urban projects also require a lot of cooperation with city hall, to make sure they are integrated with existing infrastructure and comply with city laws. The 16 buildings on East Fourth had 250 owners crowded onto their land-leases. MRN managed to acquire 80 percent of the property, but to free up abandoned or extremely neglected buildings, the city had to exercise eminent domain. Realizing Maron’s vision required working with the city to waive parking-ratio requirements and to make sure fire trucks could still access a street closed to vehicular traffic.

Financing the project was even more complicated. “What we call ‘baklava financing’ has been the way we’ve approached urban projects,” Maron says, referring to the Mediterranean layered pastry. Federal and state historic tax credits provided a layer of funding for every apartment building, restaurant, or entertainment venue. Cleveland Development Advisers, a subsidiary of the regional chamber of commerce, provided loans and New Markets tax credits. 

MRN was forced to get creative. Restaurateurs were wary of taking a chance on a largely abandoned area, so MRN opened its own Mexican restaurant, Irish pub, and bowling alley. “We’re in the hotel business, and the restaurant business—things that, at the time, we were forced to do because it was the only way for us to prove that there was a market for this kind of product,” Maron says.

But each project got easier to finance. The 224 apartments filled up almost as fast as MRN could build them. Crowds gathered at East Fourth’s entertainment venues, attracting new businesses and new investment. Today, tenants include Chef Jonathon Sawyer, whose Greenhouse Tavern was named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit. Rents on East Fourth have gone up 60 percent in the last decade, Maron says, and restaurant retail sales are double what MRN first expected. “As the market continues to grow, there’s less and less need for the baklava financing,” Maron says.

"Back in the ’70s and ’80s when we were trying to save our cities, they were constantly coming out with silver bullets," says Christopher B. Leinberger, a real-estate developer-turned-research-professor at the George Washington University School of Business. But attracting a flashy new stadium or new convention center is only one piece of the puzzle. Those projects—both of which Cleveland has pursued—didn’t do for shrinking cities in the 1970s and 80s, when professionals were fleeing to the suburbs en masse. East Fourth Street was the right project at the right time.

Nationwide, demand for walkable, urban living is on the rise—in a way that it wasn’t in past decades, when high urban crime rates kept professionals in the suburbs. Leinberger believes demand will continue to rise as millennials and Gen-Yers focus on paying off student loans rather buying cars and houses, and baby boomers downsize to apartments. In Cleveland, there’s now a broad consensus that mixed-use, urban neighborhoods will give the city a future, says Edward Hill, dean of the college of urban affairs at Cleveland State University. As an economist, Hill is usually wary of the interference of public money in private markets, but in this case he thinks social-sector investment is justified. “The city really is positioned to realize the gains. If they don’t invest themselves, they’re going to die,” he says.

Cleveland’s urban revival has required leadership at every level. Business owners voluntarily raised their taxes to fund special improvement districts. Cleveland State University built space for nearly 1,200 additional dorm beds downtown. A Transportation Department grant helped fund a bus rapid-transit line between the business district and the university, hospital, and arts district. City hall modified building codes to encourage historic preservation and created new walkable neighborhood zoning.

There’s little political opposition, in large part because gentrification isn’t an issue. “No one’s being displaced,” Hill says. Downtown, in University Circle, and along the lakefront, new developments are replacing vacant office space, empty warehouses, and parking lots.

Today, nearly 12,000 people live in the two square miles that make up downtown Cleveland—the largest number in 60 years—and residential occupancy rates are over 95 percent. In 2011, MRN developed new office space for Rosetta, an area marketing agency that relocated downtown. Cleveland has been able to persuade major employers like Amtrust Financial Services and Ernst & Young to expand their downtown operations. They were sold, Warren says, on Cleveland’s ability to attract talented professionals.

We’re seeing a pattern here—every weekend there is another great event happening in Owensboro! 

This weekend through June 29, the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden will host their annual “Balloons Over The Garden,” featuring great activities for the entire family. The schedule is listed below:

(Special Event Admission $2 Daily/Everyone Except Children Under 2)

Friday, June 21st

6-9 PM HOT AIR BALLOONS IN THE GARDEN

Food/Entertainment/Family Fun

Tethered Rides $10 (1st come; 1st serve)

Full  Balloon Rides  $190 (By Reservation  “Balloon Line” 270-993-1234)

Lantern Launch at Dusk

WEATHER PERMITTING

Saturday, June 22nd

5:30 AM (Sunrise)-9:00 AM  HOT AIR BALLOONS IN THE GARDEN

Noon - Nine P.M.  Food/Entertainment/Family Fun

6-9 PM  BALLOON ACTIVITIES INCLUDING A GLOW & LANTERN LAUNCH

Tethered Rides $10   Balloon Rides $190  (By Reservation  “Balloon Line” 270-993-1234)

WEATHER PERMITTING

Sunday, June 23rd

5:30 AM (Sunrise) - 9:00 AM  Reserved Full Balloon Rides Only

(Reservations “Balloon Line” 270-993-1234)

Enjoy The Garden & Daylilies All Day Everyday

WEATHER PERMITTING

(Regular Garden Admission Begins At Noon on Sunday, June 23rd)

Members - Free    Adults - $5    Seniors - $3   Youth - $1

Daily Garden Hours:  9 AM - 3 PM

Monday, June 24th

10 AM & 2 PM Tour & Talks in The Garden

Photography Exhibition in The Cottage

Tuesday, June 25th

"Walk & Talk" & Lunch 11:30 AM

"The Enchantment of Kate Higdon",

Master Photographer

By Reservation 270-852-8925

Wednesday, June 26th

10 AM & 2 PM Tour & Talks in The Garden

Photography Exhibition in The Cottage

Thursday, June 27th

"On The Road Again" Leave 7:30 AM

To   Daylily World  Lawrenceburg, KY

By Reservation 270-852-8925

Friday, June 28th

1 PM-3 PM  Daylily Preview Sale (Members Only)

Saturday, June 29th

8 AM-Noon “Dazzling Daylilies Sale”

We hope to see you there! For more info, visit WKBG’s website

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From the Messenger Inquirer:

Owensboro is once again an All-America City.

The prestigious honor was bestowed on Owensboro on Sunday night in Denver at the National Civic League’s All-America City competition — 61 years after Owensboro last won the award. Twenty other cities were in the competition. Owensboro and nine other cities made the grade. All the cities performed a 10-minute presentation, with Owensboro’s contingent hitting the stage at 12:40 p.m. Saturday.

When Owensboro’s presentation — led by the ever-glib Kirk Kirkpatrick accompanied by his familiar “Good News Phone” — was over, the judges were highly complimentary, and they seemed pleased with the answers to their follow-up questions.

Sunday night, the judges made it official, and Owensboro was among the 10 winners.

"We won! Everybody in Owensboro should be proud," said a pleased Mayor Ron Payne. "We told their story. It gets the message out across the country that this is an exciting place to live and work. … We’ve had people come up to us and say they can’t wait to visit us."

Payne said being named an All-America City is an affirmation of everything that is happening in Owensboro. The win should boost economic development, he said.

"Our team did a wonderful job," Payne said. "Kirk Kirkpatrick was the star, and he did a phenomenal job."

The fast-paced, high-energy presentation seized on Owensboro’s recent successes, with particular attention to downtown revitalization and the private investment it has generated, a new hospital, neighborhood redevelopment, drainage improvements, the repainting of the Glover Cary Bridge and plans for an I-67 interstate, to name a few. Throughout the presentation, as Kirkpatrick highlighted  the city’s many traditions, Winnie Lin interrupted again and again to tell the judges “We have a festival for that!”

When it was his turn, Payne told that judges that Owensboro’s success has been “primarily home-grown.” And when a judge asked for details about Owensboro’s self-financing plan for downtown revitalization, it was a ready-made question for the mayor, its chief architect.

"A lot of this has happened in the last five years," Payne said. "When I was elected, I talked to the county judge and others. It was time to move forward. We had had town hall meetings. We had a plan. We did it by passing a tax right in the middle of the recession. We knew we were taking a risk. But when I ran for re-election, I ran without opposition. … We have a 1,000-member Chamber (of Commerce). There’s more excitement in our city than we have had since 1952, when we were last an All-America City."

The judges seemed impressed with the number of volunteers that serve on local appointed boards (about 300), as well as the city’s neighborhood redevelopment program that mixes limited public funds and private investment to raise home ownership rates in distressed areas by building scores of new homes and renovating even more.

"It’s been wonderful seeing you, and the 300 volunteers is pretty amazing," one of the judges remarked. "Thank you. It was fabulous."

Owensboro was named among the 20 cities and communities as finalists in the All-America City Awards in April. The list of finalisits included Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dubuque, Iowa, and Colorado Springs, Colo., in the running for one of the 10 awards.

The other nine winners were Birmingham, Ala.; Peoria, Ill., Dunn, N.C.; Montrose, Colo.; Garner, N.C.; Norfolk, Va., Downey, Calif.; Thomasville, N.C.; and Dubuque.

Owensboro’s application stressed three areas: downtown revitalization, the Mechanicsville Neighborhood Redevelopment project and storm water improvements.

Lin, Payne and Kirkpatrick were joined by city commissioners Debbie Nunley, Pam Smith Wright, Jeff Sanford and Bob Glenn, City Manager Bill Parrish, City Engineer Joe Schepers, Chief of Police Art Ealum, Community Development Director Keith, Kenny Lin, Gabrielle Gray and several spouses for the presentation.

A video of Owensboro’s stage presentation in Denver can be viewed at: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/34403451

 

Congratulations to the Owensboro delegation on this prestigious honor!!! We are truly on the move. 

This past weekend, the Owensboro community had the opportunity to witness a wonderful local production of Mitch Leigh and Dale Wasserman’s Man of La Mancha, and performances will continue this weekend through June 16th at Theatre Workshop of Owensboro.

It is adapted from Wasserman’s non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote which was in turn inspired by Miguel De Cervantes seventeenth century masterpiece Don Quixote. It tells the story of the “mad” knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition

The original 1965 Boradway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical has been revived four times on Broadway, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre. The principal song, “The Impossible Dream” is one of the most widely performed and recorded songs in the history of popular music. 

This production is not to be missed—it features a fantastic (and local) cast, beautiful music and a remarkable set, so be sure to get your tickets ($20 and half price for TWO members) today by calling (270) 683-5333 or visit the TWO website


It’s another gorgeous day in Downtown Owensboro, and we have lots going on today!
Owensboro Music Center, the Green Gazette and Downtown Date Night are all on hand in Smothers Park for a fantastic FREE opportunity for music fans of all ages. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is set up and ready. There are FREE tours from 10am till 5pm. The Green Gazette will unveil the winners of their recent Songwriters Contest with Special Guest Andy Brasher taking the Downtown Date Night Stage at 6pm. Come on down and see why Owensboro is the coolest place to be!
It’s another gorgeous day in Downtown Owensboro, and we have lots going on today!
Owensboro Music Center, the Green Gazette and Downtown Date Night are all on hand in Smothers Park for a fantastic FREE opportunity for music fans of all ages. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is set up and ready. There are FREE tours from 10am till 5pm. The Green Gazette will unveil the winners of their recent Songwriters Contest with Special Guest Andy Brasher taking the Downtown Date Night Stage at 6pm. Come on down and see why Owensboro is the coolest place to be!

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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!!

FRIDAY, MAY 10th

  • SHOPPING
    • Downtown Shopping Store Hours of Operation
    • Arts and Crafts 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (Veterans Blvd.)
    • Business Park Vendors 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. (2nd Street)
  • SPECIAL EVENTS
    • Souvenir Sales 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (Headquarters - 2nd St. at Judicial Center)
    • Sprint Festival Information Booth 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (2nd St. at Judicial Center)
    • Opening Ceremony 4:30 p.m. 
      (Family Stage - 2nd & Daviess St.)
    • Pie Eating Contest 6:00 p.m. (Family Stage)
    • Cooking Team Balloon Toss 6:00 p.m. (Courthouse Lawn)
    • Souvenir Sales 6 - 9 p.m. (RiverPark Center)
  • CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT
    • Carnival Rides 5 p.m. (3rd & Locust St. area)
  • FOOD & DRINK
    • Downtown Dining Restaurant Hours of Operation
    • Concessions 11a.m. - 10 p.m. (2nd St.)
    • Bar-B-Q Fest Party 
      by the Park
       6p.m. - 10:00 p.m. 
      (RiverPark Center - Brian Hart & Slick Willy performing) 
  • ENTERTAINMENT
    • Miller Stage
      • Mercy Academy 6 p.m.
      • Blackford Creek Band 8 p.m.
    • Family Stage
      • Opening Ceremonies 5 p.m.
    • Youth Stage
      • Street Debt 5 p.m.
      • Hammerfist 5:30 p.m.
      • Vehement Serenade 6:15 p.m.
      • FocusedXMinds 7 p.m.
      • Out of Time 7:45 p.m.
      • Warhound 8:30 p.m.
      • Hardside 9:15 p.m. 
  • OFFICIAL FESTIVAL BEER PLAZA 
    *Beer Garden opens at 5 p.m.
    • One Last Breath 8 pm.
    • Ryan Hayden and the Bourbon Barrel Band 9:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, MAY 11th

  • SHOPPING
    • Downtown Shopping Store Hours of Operation
    • Arts and Crafts 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. (Veterans Blvd.)
    • Business Park Vendors 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. 
      (2nd Street) 
  • SPECIAL EVENTS
    • Cooking Teams (Courthouse Square)
      • Judging 2 p.m.
      • SERVING TIME - NEW 3 p.m.
      • Awards 6:00 p.m. (Miller Stage)
    • Backyard Cook-Off (3rd and Frederica)
      • Set Up 6:00 a.m.
      • Cooking Begins 7:00 a.m.
      • Judging 2:00 p.m.
      • Awards 6:00 p.m. (Miller Stage)
    • 5K Run/Walk 8 a.m.
    • Bench Press Competition (Woodward’s Cafe)
      • Registration 9:30 a.m.
      • Lifting 10:30 a.m.
    • Car Show (3rd Street)
      • Registration 9 a.m. - 12 noon
      • Awards 4:00 p.m.
    • Family Pavilion 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
      (2nd & Daviess)
    • Keg Toss (Registration 1:30) 2:00 p.m. 
      (2nd & St. Elizabeth)
    • Souvenir Sales 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. 
      (Headquarters - 2nd St. at Judicial Center)
    • Sprint Festival Information Booth 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. 
      (2nd St. at Judicial Center) 
  • CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT
    • Carnival Rides 11:00 a.m. 
      (3rd & Locust St area)
    • Family Pavilion 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
      (2nd & Daviess)
  • FOOD AND DRINK
    • Downtown Dining Restaurant Hours of Operation
    • Concessions 11a.m. - 10 p.m. (2nd St.)
    • Mutton Glutton 
      Party by the Park
       2 p.m. -11 p.m. 
      (RiverPark Center - Discfunktn’l Groove performing) Cooking Team Serving in Mutton Glutton 4 - 7 p.m. 
  • ENTERTAINMENT
    • Miller Stage
      • Gunther Doug 2:00 p.m.
      • Critical Mass 3:30 p.m.
      • Noah Wotherspoon 5:00 p.m.
      • AWARDS Ceremony 6:00 p.m.
      • The Dammit 7 p.m.
      • The Hiding 8:30 p.m.
    • Family Stage
      • Pure Country 1:00 p.m.
      • Steven Bryant 3:00 p.m.
      • Eric Clark 5:00 p.m.
    • Youth Stage
      • Hydrawolf 12 noon
      • Aesthetics Vs Architecture 12:30 p.m.
      • O’Kingdom 1 p.m.
      • Heretic / All Became New 1:45 p.m.
      • Messengers / SWR 2:30 p.m.
      • From The Eyes of Servants 3:15 p.m.
      • Panic Manor 4 p.m.
      • Will To Die/Another Mistake 4:45 p.m.
      • Latin for Truth 5:30 p.m.
      • Dead Icons 6:15 p.m.
      • Denouncer 7 p.m.
      • On My Honor 7:45 p.m.
      • Harm’s Way 8:30 p.m.
      • Ringworm 9:15 p.m.
  • OFFICIAL FESTIVAL BEER PLAZA 
    *Beer Garden opens at noon, must be over 21 to enter after 6 p.m.
    • Bake Sale 6 p.m.
    • Skyscraper Stereo 8:30 p.m.
    • WORDSPIT and the ILLest 9:15 p.m.

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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.

Governor Steve Beshear and Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne announced today that U.S. Bank National Association, a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), plans to expand operations in Owensboro, add 332 jobs and invest more than $15.2 million in the project. 
The project is a phase III expansion of the Home Mortgage servicing division in Owensboro with an addition to the campus in the Mid America Airpark.
U.S. Bank National Association originates loans nationwide through a network of more than 2,700 branches in 24 states. The U.S. Bank Mortgage Servicing Center, located on Tamarack Road in Owensboro, supports U.S. Bank’s national portfolio of 1.63 million loans totalling approximately $266 billion. The expansion in Owensboro will meet increased demand for U.S. Bank’s mortgage services.
This is the third US Bank expansion in Owensboro since 2009, the 500-job expansion in 2010 exceeded expectations and job targets.
“Simply put, this is a victory, not only for the Commonwealth, but for Owensboro and for U.S. Bank,” said Gov. Beshear. “U.S. Bank plans to add 332 employees and invest more than $15.2 million in this expansion, proving how successful this area has been for such a respected institution, and showing U.S. Bank’s commitment to a promising future here in Kentucky.”
U.S. Bank National Association originates loans nationwide through a network of more than 2,700 branches in 24 states. The U.S. Bank Mortgage Servicing Center, located on Tamarack Road in Owensboro, supports U.S. Bank’s national portfolio of 1.63 million loans totalling approximately $266 billion. The expansion in Owensboro will meet increased demand for U.S. Bank’s mortgage services.
“As we announced the 500 job expansion in 2010, we anticipated having capacity through 2014. What we did not expect was the rapid growth of our mortgage company in 2012, along with expanded requirements and regulations,” said U.S. Bank Home Mortgage Executive Vice President Robert Smiley. “In partnership with the state and city, we are pleased to once again bring additional jobs to Owensboro, expecting about 330 over the next 24-36 months.”
 
“The economic partnership the city of Owensboro has found in U.S. Bank has been a great success,” said Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne. “This third expansion will create approximately 332 more jobs within the city. Owensboro is proud to support this employer as they continue to thrive.”
 
To encourage the investment and job growth in Owensboro, the City of Owensboro Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $2,875,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets. 

“I am thrilled with the expansion of U.S. National Bank in the area,” said Sen. Joe Bowen, of Owensboro. “Owensboro is making its mark with many industries, and I welcome the growth of our financial services.”
 
“Daviess County Fiscal Court is pleased to see the expansion of U.S. Bank at its Mid America Air Park location,” said Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly. “The 330 new jobs will provide employment for the Owensboro-Daviess County community, and the expansion is an encouraging sign of continued economic recovery.”

We are so excited about the forthcoming ROMP Bluegrass Festival! Today, the International Bluegrass Music Museum announced the line-up for the 2013 festival—which will feature an awesome array of artists from legends like Merle Haggard, Del McCoury and Sam Bush to perennial favorites like the Punch Brothers (check out their encore from last year’s festival in the video above), and the Carolina Chocolate Drops and many more! 

ALSO—today IBMM launched a new website for ROMP 2013: www.rompfest.com. This is the 10th Anniversary of what has become a signature event for our community and from noon to midnight today you can purchase a 3-day ROMP pass with FREE camping for only $90. We hope you will join us on June 27-30 for 3 days of music, food, fun and good vibes. It’s one of the best outdoor concert events you will find anywhere in the world! 

Tickets are available at www.rompfest.com or by calling (270) 926-7891

 

 

This is an awesome video about the future of cities and city-building presented by the Project for Public Spaces. It is definitely worth a few minutes of your time! Enjoy! 

Excerpted from Urban Land.

By Richard Florida

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 there: the combination of the built environment and the natural environment; a stimulating, appealing setting for the pursuit of creative lives.
  • Who’s there: diverse people of all ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and sexual orientations, interacting and providing clear cues that this is a community where anyone can fit in and make a life.
  • 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.

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.