Viewpoint: Finding new economic growth in the aging care industry
By Greg Fischer
America is getting older.
Even so, today’s seniors are more active, better committed to their health, and more eager to continue the activities they love than any generation before. In response, entrepreneurs and growing companies are developing targeted products for this newly energized population. These innovative companies are finding a home in Louisville, Ky.
Louisville is at the center of the growing Aging Care and Lifelong Wellness industry in the United States. In fact, there are more corporate headquarters in Louisville in the aging care industry than anywhere else in the country, including well-known names such as Humana, Kindred and Almost Family.
With more than 4,000 professionals producing more than $28 billion in revenue, Louisville’s nursing home, assisted living, home health and Medicare management community is the most developed in the country. Add to this a skilled workforce, the presence of world-class suppliers, ground-breaking research and firms catering to the lifestyle changes of an aging demographic, and you have a key area of economic growth for the city and the nation at large.
This didn’t happen by accident, nor did it happen overnight. Louisville has created an ecosystem to support and encourage growth in this key sector, and it’s a strategy that other communities can use to capitalize on their unique natural strengths.
Before serving as mayor of Louisville, my background was in business entrepreneurship and growth. And in a very real way, Louisville’s success in the aging care and lifelong wellness industry is an example of successfully using business strategies in regional economic development planning. We studied the market, identified a strength, and developed a plan to equip our community with every resource that strength needed to grow and succeed.
To create an environment where aging care companies can thrive, Louisville established the country’s first aging care accelerator to help develop innovation in the aging care and lifelong wellness industry. This is complimented by a $5 million fund designed to support companies that come through the incubator.
Knowing that innovation is driven by interaction, the University of Louisville and Signature Healthcare worked together to create a not-for-profit think tank producing white papers, workshops, symposiums and publications. All of that helped lay the groundwork for a dedicated and strategic effort to attract, develop and grow aging care companies, by showing them the benefit of locating to a community where the talent, research and resources their companies needed to succeed were embraced and enumerated.
This plan is working. In the past year alone, Louisville has seen economic development successes as diverse as Kindred Healthcare’s acquisition of RehabCare Group, creating the largest post-acute health services company in the nation, to the rapid expansion of MD2U, an in-home medical care start-up.
Every city has unique strengths, and Louisville is a leader in developing targeted economic development strategies around our strengths. Aging care and lifelong wellness is an industry poised for exceptional growth, and Louisville, and its workforce, stands to benefit.
We know these things for sure: Americans are living longer and staying active later in their lives. The need for targeted services and innovations is growing, and Louisville’s economy will grow along with it. It’s a formula for economic success in the years and decades ahead.
Greg Fischer is mayor of Louisville, Ky. For more about the city’s aging care and lifelong wellness strategy, visit www.GreaterLouisville.com/AgingCare.