Monday, February 05, 2007

PharMerica in the Suburbs and Louisville's Genlyte

On Friday it was reported that Louisville's newest corporate citizen would by planting it's roots in suburban Jefferson County - off of Blankenbaker Parkway in Jeffersontown to be more precise.

The new 2 billion dollar company will fill the space that was vacated over a year ago when Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield built a new suburban building at Eastpoint Business Center and consolidated their operations. PharMerica is expected to lease nearly 100,000 square feet of space in the Blankenbaker Crossings building for their 300 to 350 new employees.

PharMerica looked at three locations in Louisville - 2 suburban and 1 downtown - before settling on Blankenbaker Crossing. Jeffersontown's mayor has commented that the city will bend over backwards to support the new company in any possible ways.

While I think it is a missed opportunity for the downtown core to score this fantastic, growing is a win for the Louisville business community to have them settle roots here. The number of Fortune 1000 companies has been reduced in the last decade with RJ Reynolds being acquired and moved to North Carlina and the takeover of LG&E in the mid 90's by German electric conglomerate E.ON. Thankfully for the latter company, LG&E was basically left unchanged and E.ON made Louisville it's US Headquarters - although that still isn't quite as nice as having LG&E as our own Fortune 1000 company again.

Fortune 1000 companies are a point of pride for any community, and it is one indicator of a regions general economic strength and importance. Fortune 1000's are not the only indicators, o even the single most important one, but it is still great to have as many as possible.

It is because of this that I am excited about recent news from Louisville-based Genlyte. Genlyte is a homegrown company that has experienced explosive growth and is acquiring companies left and right, like last weeks announced acquisition of Pennsylvania-based lighting manufacturer, Hanover Lantern.

Genlyte's 2006 revenues were announced to be 1.48 billion dollars. Had Genlyte posted that number in 2005, they would have easily made Fortunes 1000 list. But last year they had sales of 1.2 billion - nearly 200 million dollars short of breaking into the top 1000 public companies. Revenue is up nearly 25 percent this year from last, and if they don't make the Fortune list for 2006, there is no doubt they will make the cut for 2007.

Louisville has a reputation of plodding along without much growth - and to a degree that has been very true. But times are changing, not just for Louisville, but for Kentucky. Kentucky is expected to ride the next wave of Southern expansion as people start looking for places that aren't yet saturated - such as Florida, Georgia, or Texas. This means we'll start seeing more economic diversity, more local companies, and greater opportunity.

Recent economic news from Louisville has been very bright, indeed. And I expect that momentum to continue. Not every week will bring with it a new company or large expansion, but Louisville will continue to do what it does best - nurture small groups and daring entrepreneurs. That's how Genlyte started. And Smoothstone. And Zirmed. And a whole slew of others.

Louisville has a lot of baggage to overcome...but slowly, we're turning the corner, and news like these recent developments, only embolden us more.


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