The Smoketown Steam Exchange group is just one initiative of the Creative Innovation Zone. | Courtesy of CIV
The Smoketown Steam Exchange group is just one initiative of the Creative Innovation Zone. | Courtesy of CIV

Last Saturday, as residents were celebrating the 150th anniversary of their neighborhood at the Smoketown Arts Festival, it was announced that the Smoketown Creative Innovation Zone (CIZ) would be adding 25 new jobs for young people in the area.

Just over a year ago, YouthBuild Louisville and IDEAS started CIZ in the neighborhood to implement arts- and culture-related programs that would serve low-income young people in Louisville’s urban core. The initiative was launched through a grant from ArtPlace America last August.

Since then, according to the press release, community members, private donors and many more have come together to make CIZ a success.

“We are proving how artist-innovators can become catalysts for building a resilient, vital economy. In Smoketown, that means supporting new forms of workforce development for young people that produce positive educational, business enterprise and cultural outcomes,” said IDEAS co-founder Theo Edmonds. “The ultimate goal of CIZ is to help Smoketown emerge as a place of opportunity. From grade-school age to high-school age, to young adults in their first job, we are working with YouthBuild to implement a system that directly supports the development of creative, compassionate citizens.”

The jobs will be tied to the various initiatives, including an Urban Green program; a culinary program led by Chef Edward Lee; the Steam Exchange program to further the arts; and the establishment of programs like the Smoketown Arts Series and the Mechanics Training Program for young women.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."