Main article: Economy of Louisville, Kentucky
See also: Greater Louisville Inc. and List of major employers in Louisville, Kentucky
The L&N Building on West Broadway
Bourbon bottle, 19th century. One-third of all bourbon whiskey comes from Louisville.
Louisville’s early economy first developed through the shipping and cargo industries. Its strategic location at the Falls of the Ohio, as well as its unique position in the central United States (within one day’s road travel to 60% of the cities in the continental U.S.) make it an ideal location for the transfer of cargo along its route to other destinations. The Louisville and Portland Canal and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad were important links in water and rail transportation. <a href=”http://jamescollinsford.net“>James Collins Ford</a>Louisville’s importance to the shipping industry continues today with the presence of the Worldport global air-freight hub for UPS at Louisville International Airport. Louisville’s location at the crossroads of three major Interstate highways (I-64, I-65 and I-71) also contributes to its modern-day strategic importance to the shipping and cargo industry. As of 2003, Louisville ranks as the 7th largest inland port in the United States.
Recently, Louisville has emerged as a major center for the health care and medical sciences industries. Louisville has been central to advancements in heart and hand surgery as well as cancer treatment. Some of the earliest artificial heart transplants were conducted in Louisville. Louisville’s thriving downtown medical research campus includes a new $88 million rehabilitation center and a health sciences research and commercialization park, that in partnership with the University of Louisville, has lured nearly 70 top scientists and researchers. Louisville is also home to Humana, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies.
Louisville is home to nearly two dozen major corporations and organizations:
Atria Senior Living
Brown-Forman (Fortune 1000)
Hillerich & Bradsby (manufacturer of Louisville Slugger baseball bats)
Hilliard Lyons (investment firm)
Humana (Fortune 500)
Kindred Healthcare (Fortune 500)
Long John Silver’s
Papa John’s Pizza
PharMerica (Fortune 1000)
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Republic Bank & Trust Company
SHPS (healthcare and human resources services company)
S.Y. Bancorp (holding company for Stock Yards Bank & Trust)
Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar
Yum! Brands (owners of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) (Fortune 500)
ZirMed (health care technology company)
Humana headquarters in Downtown Louisville
Louisville for a long time was also home to Brown & Williamson, the third largest company in the tobacco industry before merging with R. J. Reynolds in 2004 to form the Reynolds American Company. Brown & Williamson, one of the subjects of the tobacco industry scandals of the 1990s, was the focus of The Insider, a 1999 film shot around the Louisville area. Also located in Louisville are two major Ford plants, the headquarters of GE Consumer & Industrial (a subsidiary of General Electric) and a major General Electric appliance factory.
Additionally, Louisville is a major center of the American whiskey industry—approximately one-third of all bourbon comes from Louisville. Brown-Forman, one of the major makers of American whiskey, is headquartered in Louisville and operates a distillery in the Louisville suburb of Shively. The current primary distillery site operated by Heaven Hill, called the Bernheim distillery, is also located in Louisville near Brown-Forman’s distillery. Other distilleries and related businesses can also be found in neighboring cities in Kentucky, such as Bardstown, Clermont, Lawrenceburg and Loretto.
Louisville also prides itself in its large assortment of small, independent businesses and restaurants, some of which have become known for their ingenuity and creativity. In 1926 the Brown Hotel became the home of the Hot Brown “sandwich”. A few blocks away, the Seelbach Hotel, which F. Scott Fitzgerald references in The Great Gatsby, is also famous for a secret back room where Al Capone would regularly meet with associates during the Prohibition era. The drink the Old Fashioned was invented in Louisville’s Pendennis Club.
Several major motion pictures have also been filmed in or near Louisville, including The Insider, Goldfinger, Stripes, Lawn Dogs, Elizabethtown and Secretariat.