On Monday, we held our second Virtual Town Hall with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and 25 local leaders, where we discussed important issues facing Louisville and the country, including jobs, local food, and innovation.
Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John Fernandez kicked off the discussion, telling the group assembled in Louisville about President Obama’s Select USA Initiative to attract and retain investment in the American economy, the progress of the National Export Initiative toward the goal of doubling American exports over the next five years, and the developments in the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. In addition, Assistant Secretary Fernandez who previously served as Mayor of Bloomington, Indiana discussed with Mayor Fischer the importance of regional strategies and ways to continue to grow the Louisville economy from the bottom up by making investments in public-private partnerships that accelerate job creation.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan followed with a dialogue about local food and access to healthy nutrition. Deputy Secretary Merrigan detailed the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative to carry out President Obama’s commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems. She shared examples of innovative ways cities are educating students about food sourcing, including bringing farmers into schools to talk about their crops and sharing farmer “trading cards” to help explain the connection between food, agriculture, community and the environment. During the discussion, we heard from Louisville-based Grasshoppers Distribution, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization dedicated to making available “locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and dairy from over 60 local family farms”.
Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, closed the conversation with a report on his previous visit to the Louisville Idea Festival in September and encouraged Louisville leaders to participate in the $1 billion health care innovation challenge to support compelling new ideas to deliver better health and improved care at lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Ted Smith, Louisville’s Director of Innovation, helped lead the conversation on using data and technology to better inform educational outcomes, an effort in response to the CTO’s challenge issued during his remarks at EDUCAUSE.
This Virtual Town Hall was a great opportunity to hear directly from community leaders in Louisville on how federal, local and private sector groups can partner to improve services for everyone. We look forward to “virtually” visiting more communities across the country in the months to come.