Bi-partisan bill aims to empower West End with investments, economic opportunity for growth

A community-driven initiative nearly nine months in the making was filed by Kentucky Senate leaders on Tuesday as a tool for economic solutions and development in West End neighborhoods.

© WLKY West end

The “West End Opportunity Partnership,” is a plan presented by Senate President Robert Stivers and senators Julie Raque Adams, Morgan McGarvey and Gerald Neal of Louisville. They spent months working with key West End organizations, Louisville leaders and community development officials to draft actionable solutions to address long-standing issues of systemic racism that plagues communities west of Ninth Street.

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“This is about providing these communities the ability to have long-term investment and reinvestment over the next 30 years leaving something better for prosperity,” said Senate President Robert Stivers. “The commonwealth cannot be strong unless Louisville is as strong as it can possibly be, and that includes the West End.”

Supporters say the goal is creating generational wealth and opportunity for the nine neighborhoods listed in the bill: Parkland, Shawnee, Park Duvalle, Russell, Portland, California, Chickasaw, Park Hill, and Algonquin.

The collaborative effort between residents of the neighborhoods, the city of Louisville and the state will include measures to address gentrification, prevent displacement of current residents due to increasing housing values, creation of a tax incremental financing program, and most importantly give community members a voice and seat on the board.

The board and advisory council were chosen with community input and will include an African American majority of local organizations like OneWest, education and financial institutions such as Simmons College, the NAACP and Louisville Urban League. There are also five seats for residents from the impacted neighborhoods. Additionally, a community advisory committee will be comprised of nine people to represent all the communities in decisions such as local projects and initiatives that will impact them directly.

“It has the full support of our board because it brings tangible resources that are needed to improve quality of life and environmental and economic justice in the West End,” said OneWest CEO Evon Smith. “We applaud the senators here and so many others that understand working with your polar opposite to find common ground in order to help people is what we are here to do.”

Key elements of the bill include:

  • Community-led
  • 80 percent of revenue generated will be invested in communities
  • Protects existing homeowners against tax rate increases
  • Provides sustainable resources for home improvements, affording housing
  • Collaboration between private sector, city, and state
  • Creates opportunities, attracts more investment
  • Addresses gentrification of communities
  • Pushing for more owner-occupied homes

Though a Senate-led effort, supporters say the legislation was proposed with excellent collaboration with the House.

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