Take a look at this story from WFPL:

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer delivered his first State of the City address Thursday.

You can read and listen to the speech here

Fischer acknowledged the city’s shortcomings and said Louisville must rise above the second tier: The city has lost thousands of jobs in the last decade; educated residents have moved away; and current graduation rates are below expectations.

Fischer says he wants the Brookings Institution to help craft a new economic development plan—a plan that includes working with nearby cities.

“I’ve spoken with the respected Brookings Institution to work with us to develop a new economic blueprint—a plan that includes Louisville working together with Lexington to grow the I-64 corridor into a super-region, along with the I-65 corridor,” he said, later adding that the consequences for not reaching beyond the city border could be dire.

“We need to look at our geographical cluster—Louisville, Lexington, E-town, Southern Indiana—as a geographic cluster that in 20 years will be viewed as a mega-city by the world. If we don’t have that population mass of 2.5-3 million, we will not be relevant in the view of the world 20 years from now,” said Fischer.

Fischer also acknowledged an $18 million gap in the city budget. While the economy played a role in the shortfall, most of the gap comes from a legal settlement with retired firefighters. Afterward, the mayor said he’s not sure how he will make up for the gap when he drafts the budget for the next fiscal year.

“Well we’re five months away from that right now, so we’ll be diving into that over the next 30 to 60 days and it’s just to early to comment on,” he said. “We’ve got to balance it, obviously, so we will.”

Fischer says he is determined not to raise taxes. The city budget has come up short for the last three years. Cuts in those budgets included layoffs and the sale of city property and equipment.

Compare Fischer’s first State of the City to former Mayor Jerry Abramson‘s last. Here is WFPL’s coverage:

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson delivered his final State of the City address Thursday to the Rotary Club. The speech included his vision for Louisville over the next five years.

The mayor says many of the accomplishments during the period will be the continuation or completion of projects he’s championed in the last few years. They include the Museum Plaza complex, expanded operations at G.E.’s Appliance Park and Ford’s two Kentucky plants, and the start of construction on two new Ohio River Bridges.

“My hope is by the end of this year—by the end of my administration—the bi-state authority will have a game plan and a financial plan in place to finance the construction of the two bridges and the reconstruct of Spaghetti Junction,” he says.

The mayor says the city will have to work with Southern Indiana and the rest of Kentucky to be successful.

“We have become of aware of the importance of understanding how what’s happening around us affects us directly,” he says. “And look at what I’m talking about when you focus on Fort Knox.”

The only element of Abramson’s plan that will come online while he’s still in office is the new downtown arena. It will open in November, just before Abramson leaves office to run for Lt. Governor next year.

Abramson’s speech looked ahead to 2015–a year when he imagined the city would be coming alive with new developments and attractions. Fischer, however, said Louisville will be irrelevant by 2031 if it does not work more closely with Lexington, southern Indiana and Elizabethtown, a partnership Abramson nodded to.

When you look at it this way, the difference between the two mayors’ visions for the city is stark. Like Abramson, Fischer didn’t hide his affinity for Louisville, but the new mayor also described the city as one that’s at risk of becoming out of date and has to overcome a decade of declining employment and education in order to survive.

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