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Greater Louisville Inc.'s CEO Addresses Layoffs in Open Letter

Greater Louisville Inc. is characterizing recent staff reductions as re-focusing on the organization's priorities—"economic development and outstanding member services"—and "not just a cost-cutting measure."In an open letter, GLI CEO Craig Richard said the cuts—eight staff positions, not including a pair of recent resignations—wouldn't directly harm the organization's teams focused on economic development work for Louisville. He's also instituted a hiring freeze, a travel freeze, a "stringent" expense approval process and other measures.The idea is to put GLI in a better financial place, he said."Like many businesses in this new economy, we too are learning to do more with less," Richard wrote.GLI also confirmed  the recent departures of prominent staff members, including chief administrative officer Tracee Troutt (who leaves effective Oct. 15), spokeswoman Carmen Hickerson, chief financial officer Mark Kline and Kathy Zandona, vice president for education.In a "Frequently Asked Questions" section that accompanied Richard's letter, GLI notes:

We are currently evaluating all of our activities, committees and events to ensure they align with our top priorities - economic development and outstanding member services.  Any of these initiatives that do not support our priority goals will be suspended.  

GLI will continue to support our commitments to workforce preparedness (Degrees At Work) and maintain our entrepreneurial focus (EnterpriseCorp).  

GLI now has a staff of 36.The organization—Louisville's chamber of commerce—has hired a temporary accountant to work with Richard, who was hiredlate last year. Insider Louisville has reported that GLI's membership has declined in recent years and questions have been raised about the spending practices of Richard's predecessor, Joe Reagan. Reagan left last year for a similar post in St. Louis.Earlier this week, Mayor Greg Fischer's office expressed confidence that the staff cuts wouldn't harm Louisville's economic development initiatives. The city has budgeted about $950,000 for GLI, but the money must be used for specific projects and GLI is responsible for meeting benchmarks for each. Richard's full letter is here.
Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.