Louisville: Top 5 City for Entrepreneurial Start-Ups?

Dale Schaefer

Dale Schaefer (LL '13), vice-president and market manager, Main Line Broadcasting

by Dale Schaefer, Leadership Louisville 2013 – I am finding my personal Leadership Louisville experience to be both rewarding and unsettling.  It has been extremely rewarding to get to know my fellow classmates, the industries they work in and about our community as a whole.  The unsettling part of this experience I was not expecting at all.

First, let me explain what has been unsettling to me.  I knew I was going to learn about a lot of great community leaders and their organizations, but I didn’t expect to be personally challenged the way I have so far.  This personal challenge became very real in our last session on Tuesday, October 9 at the UPS Global Operations Center when young, upstart entrepreneur, Alex Frommeyer from Beam Technologies, made a simple statement about the future potential of Louisville as an entrepreneurial city.  Frommeyer said, “In 2022, ten years from now, Louisville could be a Top 5 city for Entrepreneurial Start-Ups much like Silicon Valley.”

As a life-long resident of this great city, I felt a great sense of pride as he made that comment, but he did not stop there.  No! Instead he said that the city of Louisville and the leaders of this community needed to step up in a big way for that to happen. In fact, he said that “the city could do very little over the next ten years and we would be just one of a hundred cities.”  When his fellow panelists, Mark Crane and Maggie Harlow made similar supporting comments I knew they were talking to everyone of us in a leadership position.  It was then that I began to feel a little uneasy and, for sure, unsettled.  I knew I needed to do my part, but what could I do?  What can any of us do that don’t have deep pockets filled with cash?

I am not sure I have a definitive answer for this question, but I know I can be a great encourager of people and the businesses they are building.  As a career marketing and broadcast executive, I can help get the word out about the exciting things happening with businesses in our city, but that does not seem like enough.

This is where I really feel unsettled, I want to do more but not sure what I can do.  And then it hits me…being restless and unsettled is a good thing when you are trying to help people and your community.  It makes you think and thinking leads to action then action leads to results which could lead to Louisville becoming a Top 5 Entrepreneurial Start-up City.

I have learned from this Leadership Louisville experience and the entrepreneurs I have met that positive results come from just starting…without stepping up to start the race you have no chance to win.