Iorio's latest adversary: Louisville's mayor
Talk about slugging a town when it’s down. Louisville — the town that gave the name to the famous slugger — is trying to poach Tampa’s yuppies by plying them with jobs and booze.
Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson has armed himself with Kentucky Derby tickets and top shelf bourbon, and plans to throw a party Thursday night in Tampa inviting the city’s young malcontents to “Move to Possibility City.” The effort to recruit former Kentuckians to move back home comes just days after Forbes named Tampa as the worst major metro area in America for young professionals.
“I’m not worried,” said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. “We’ve got a great city, a great quality of life, and people live here and work here because they love it here. We’ve got a wonderful atmosphere — so good that I don’t need to throw parties in other cities to get people to move here.”
“Beaches?” scoffed Louisville’s Ambramson. “We’ve got fall and winter. Seasons are important to some people.”
The party, dubbed the “Louisville Reunion,” is in its sixth year, and has visited Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and Dallas. This is its first visit to Florida. The invitations go out to people with ties to Kentucky, like graduates of some of the state’s colleges and universities. Abramson said the Tampa-St. Petersburg area is home to one of the largest alumni associations of the University of Louisville.
The party offers a tasting of Kentucky’s signature liquor — bourbon. Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve will be on offer, as will door prizes to the 2009 Kentucky Derby and the 2008 Ryder Cup.
"Bring it on, Louisville," said Larry Richey, senior managing director of Cushman Wakefield in Tampa and chairman of the Committee of One Hundred, Tampa's economic development partnership.
"These young professionals will get free beer any chance they get, but I doubt many of them will move to Louisville," Richie said. "I'm flattered, but I like our chances."
Abramson bragged about his city’s vibrant downtown, its “great public schools,” and its many large employers, like Humana, Kindred Health Care and UPS Worldport’s shipping hub. The city was just named among the “Best Towns of 2008” by Outdoor Magazine, and named “Most Livable City” by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Speaking of mayors, we asked Abramson if he’d given Iorio a heads up. “Is your mayor still Greco?” he asked. (No, the mayor isn’t still Dick Greco and, no, Abramson did not call ahead.)
“You think the used car business is tough, you should try being mayor,” said Abramson, who has been mayor for 19 years. “It’s very competitive.”
If You Go
The Louisville Thursday, July 24, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Tampa Hotel at International Plaza, 4200 Jim Walter Boulevard. The party is free, but you have to RSVP at www.myspace.com/louisvillereunion.
-Asjylyn Loder, Times staff writer