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Governor announces $2.5 billion plan to benefit Louisville’s health sciences development

August 6th, 2007

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Gov. Ernie Fletcher, left, and UofL President James Ramsey discuss the proposed TIF for downtown Louisville.

Development of a 30-block health sciences area in downtown Louisville received a huge boost Aug. 6 when Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced a $2.5 billion capital investment in expansion, renovation and infrastructure over the next two decades in an area that includes the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center.

The money will come, in part, from tax increment finance (TIF) funding, a method of redistributing property tax to finance infrastructure improvements within a designated area.

At the announcement at the Haymarket site at Jefferson and Preston streets, officials said the TIF increment may add up to $300 million, enough to build out the Haymarket Business and Research Park and other parts of the UofL Health Sciences Center Master Plan.

Among other things, it will support construction of research labs and other buildings; hiring of new faculty, and researchers and support staff at UofL; growth of new businesses to generate economic activity across Kentucky; and infrastructure for researchers and entrepreneurs to take health science technology to the marketplace.

The step “allows us take a quantum leap forward” in pursuing Louisville’s goal of becoming the next major life sciences center in the United States and beyond, said UofL President James Ramsey.

“The health sciences campus is the physical, economic and intellectual center of downtown Louisville,” he said. “Today, medical research, discovery and innovation in Louisville are at an all-time high. To bring all potential advancements to fruition for patients, however, we must expand research and clinical areas, infrastructure and specialized commercial space that specifically support the effort.”

TIF dollars from the health sciences campus area of downtown Louisville will be reinvested directly into a project with huge economic development potential, Fletcher said.

“This parking lot will be transformed into 700,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory and office space,” he continued. “There will be as many as six combined laboratory-and-office buildings and at least two parking garages.”

“TIF funding is a wise public investment that maximizes the benefits of a public-private partnership,” Fletcher said.

Of the $2.5 billion to be invested in the project development area over the next 20 years, officials expect $1.8 billion will be public investment and $700 million private, with $300 million invested by Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare. The Louisville Medical Center Development Corp. will manage the Haymarket area research park development.

“The entire commonwealth will reap the benefits,” Fletcher said. “When we do something good in Louisville, it is something good for all of Kentucky.”

“Kentucky cannot grow and prosper and be successful if Louisville doesn’t grow and prosper, and Louisville won’t if the University of Louisville doesn’t assume a leadership position,” said Metro Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. He also noted that the TIF not only will encourage economic development and create jobs, but it also may lead to treatments and cures for cancer, HIV and other diseases.

Officials hope to begin initial investment and constructionsoon after TIF approval by the Louisville Metro Council and the Commonwealth’s TIF Commission. Parking on the Haymarket lot, though, will not be affected in the near future.

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