2 Ky. cities push for innovation

By Amelia Orwick

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer are teaming up in an initiative for economic progress across the state.

The Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement will emphasize learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and seeks to make Kentucky a competitive force within the business world.

Twenty-one professionals from across the state, including UK President Eli Capilouto and University of Louisville President James Ramsey, have been named BEAM board members.

The board is chaired by sports entrepreneur Jim Host, who led the effort to build Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center.

Their first meeting was held Nov. 21 in Frankfort, Ky. The deans of the education and engineering colleges at both UK and Louisville were present.

Mary John O’Hair, dean of the College of Education, is excited to join forces with Tom Lester, dean of the College of Engineering, and Louisville to kick-start the initiative. They want to do this by transforming Kentucky’s education systems

to support world-class knowledge and skills for Kentucky students to ensure college and career readiness.

“It’s all about innovation,” she said. “We want to help Kentucky be one of the most innovative states, not only in the U.S. but globally.”

The group hopes to attract businesses to the state through a “high-quality workforce resulting from an innovative, high-quality education system,” O’Hair said.

Students should begin to notice a shift in focus to a more personalized style of learning in the near future.

“There will be strong focus on performance-based, mastery learning, which puts students at the center of the learning process and ensures business and industry that graduates are ready from day one to assume the scientific and technical jobs demands of today and in the future,” O’Hair said.

Capilouto is hopeful BEAM will help give Kentucky an advantage in a competitive 21st century.

“That’s what BEAM represents — an innovative collaboration among Lexington, Louisville and its research and educational centers, UK and U of L, to leverage our assets to create a partnership that makes us, together, stronger than we could ever be apart,” he said in an email to the Kernel.