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Brain Drain Series: 'While I Had Been Away, Louisville Had Grown Up'

Patty Payette graduated from the University of Louisville with a master's in English, but left the city in 1995 to earn her Ph.D in East Lansing, Mich.

Over the years, she would visit Louisville and was able to watch its slow but progressive growth. She returned permanently several years later with her husband and children. Payette sat down to talk for our series on "brain drain" and growing talent in the city. She says when she returned she was looking for new challenges. “I’m someone who went to high school here in Louisville, calls Louisville my hometown, and I felt very strongly about moving back to Louisville after I had lived away for about 12 years. And I got here and I realized that there’s so much change going on here, so much excitement and I’d like to see more young professionals move to Louisville. I’d like to see the people work to really sell the city.” What was it like watching the city grow while living in Michigan but visiting Louisville regularly? "When I left Louisville in 1995 there was a lot of growth but it tended to be on the East End. I saw a lot of growth eastward. But when I visited I saw a lot of growth in the center of the city and in different neighborhoods. And I began to see the city changing but also changing in ways that were very unique to Louisville. And that was very exciting to me and I realized while I had been away, Louisville had grown up.” Is there still a long way for the city to go? "Yes. I think Louisville has unlimited growth potential and I think we’ve seen just in the last five years additional growth downtown and I’d like to see our city center continue--not just develop in tourism, which is wonderful, but also in looking at historic buildings and how do we make our development greener, how do we diversify leaders in our city. And so there’s still a lot of exciting horizons.” Is the city doing enough for brain gain? "I felt like I couldn’t get a lot of traction [networking]. I had an unusual professional background. I wasn’t in marketing or sales or something like that. I would like to see city leaders, business leaders, non-profit leaders be more diligent in attracting new talent to the city. I think there’s a lot here and a lot more that can be done." (Image via Shutterstock)