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Last Friday, sources told us Greater Louisville Inc. was about to name Kent Oyler as CEO. Over the long weekend, Kent gave Monday Business Briefing a “hold your horses,” non-denial denial.

Yesterday, GLI executives told their staffers at a 9 a.m. meeting that “contrary to media reports, no decision had been made.”

But we knew…

Oyler replaces Craig Richard, who was fired back in January.

IL has had a long relationship with Kent Oyler. We occasionally run the pithy posts he pens as CEO of OPM Financial. We also mentioned him in February – even before Richard officially left – as one of about a dozen potential candidates along with former GLI CEOs Doug Cobb and Steve Higdon.

From that post:

Kent Oyler is an entrepreneur and civic leader who has the personality and contacts to instantly reverse GLI fortunes. Also, Kent is chairman of EnterpriseCorp, the entrepreneurial side of GLI. (The side that actually works.) Oyler told us Friday an interim position “would be interesting. But on a permanent basis, they need someone with chamber-building experience. Someone who will deal with hard problems.” He could think of several people, he said, “maybe me among them ….” That doesn’t sound like “no.” But other factors make him a long shot including his investments and his day job at OPM Financials. We’ll say 20-to-1.

All this doesn’t mean we give Kent a free pass. We also put forward other candidates, including Trey Grayson. GLI executives interviewed Grayson, who ultimately left Harvard University to become president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

GLI also interviewed former Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership CEO Brad Richardson, now president and CEO of the Hardin County chamber, and others who are equally qualified.

We want to sit down with Kent to find out why he got the nod. How will he rebuild what is now – with the departure of GLI’s economic-development function to the mayor’s office in April – a conventional chamber of commerce? And one in a very deep hole financially after losing perhaps 30 percent of its membership since 2011.

As we stated in the MBB, we want to know his vision of what GLI could be and should be going forward.

More when we get face time.

Here’s the GLI release from this morning, complete with gratuitous quotes for your enjoyment:

Kent Oyler Named President & CEO of Greater Louisville Inc.

Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) announced today that Kent Oyler will become the business leadership organization’s new President & CEO, effective June 1.  Oyler most recently served as managing partner of OPM Services, Inc., a financial-services and investment firm and has founded or co-founded over 18 other businesses, including High Speed Access Corp., a broadband service provider.

“We had many strong candidates from both the private and nonprofit sectors. Kent Oyler was the ideal choice.” said Kerry Stemler, President, K.M. Stemler Company, Inc., and Chair of Greater Louisville Inc.’s Board of Directors.  “With Kent in place GLI is positioned to move forward and chart a new course of action for a truly regional approach to driving business growth and economic prosperity.”

 Oyler will take over the reins from Eileen Pickett who has been serving as Acting CEO in the interim.

“I’m honored to be entrusted with the leadership of the region’s largest business leadership organization,” said Oyler.  “My passion is business and GLI is the home base for businesses. I’m looking forward to working with the GLI team, member companies and community leaders to accelerate our region’s momentum and help our businesses succeed.”

Oyler brings more than 30 years of diverse business, finance, operations and entrepreneurial experience to the organization. He has served in CFO, CEO and Executive Chairman positions in small and large companies. His numerous entrepreneurial ventures have been in a wide variety of industries including railroads, leasing, manufacturing, Internet, and market research.

“I am extremely confident about the future of GLI with Kent Oyler as its new leader,” said Ed Glasscock, Chairman Emeritus, Frost Brown Todd LLC and former Chair of the GLI Board of Directors. “His strong private sector leadership experience and track record of economic development successes in the entrepreneurial community are an ideal fit for the type of person needed to lead GLI and the business communities’ regional growth strategy.”

“Kent Oyler is a creative and proven business leader” said Mayor Greg Fischer.  “He will be an asset to the Greater Louisville Inc organization.  Kent and I have worked together for many years on entrepreneurial and non-profit initiatives.  I look forward to again partnering with him in his new role at GLI to enhance the region’s economic prosperity and ensure that we are meeting the needs of our existing businesses.”

As the President & CEO, Oyler will lead the roll out of GLI’s recently announced strategic priorities, which are centered on serving the interests of its members and the regional business community.  These priority areas, as outlined in the organization’s Advantage Louisville plan, are: retaining and growing existing businesses, including supporting the entrepreneurial and start-up community; increasing the region’s human capital, levels of educational attainment and workforce readiness; and driving advocacy efforts aimed at creating a more business-friendly environment. 

“Kent Oyler fully understands the significant impact that GLI can have on the retention and growth of existing and emerging businesses in our region, as well as the importance of its leadership roles in workforce development and advocacy” said Steve Williams, CEO Norton Healthcare, and Co-Chair of GLI’s Board and Advantage Louisville Steering Committee. “The Board is aligned and committed to support the execution of our Advantage Louisville Strategic Plan. Kent is an exceptional addition to the organization and will, without a doubt, be the catalyst to pull all of the pieces together.”

Oyler has served on several public and private corporate boards including Thornton’s Inc., Republic Bancorp, Inc. and Beam Technologies as well as on dozens of civic boards and committees, including United Way Worldwide, The Pritchard Committee on Education, YPO/WPO, Metro Louisville Police Foundation, the Association for Corporate Growth, Leadership Louisville, and University of Louisville Business School and Board of Overseers.  He has been involved in GLI for over 20 years including 8 years as a board member.  Oyler currently chairs GLI’s EnterpriseCorp Board of Advisors and serves on the Advantage Louisville Steering Committee. 

“Kent’s business experience and deep connections with the Louisville business leadership and entrepreneurial community will allow Greater Louisville Inc. to grow and expand its role in driving economic prosperity for the region,” said Diane Medley, Managing Partner, Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP and Chair Elect GLI Board of Directors.  “His experience in the private sector gives him firsthand knowledge of what is needed to expand and grow existing businesses in the Louisville region.”

Oyler has also been involved in fund-raising for Metro United Way, the Louisville Science Center, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and the YMCA.  He holds both a bachelor’s and MBA degrees from the University of Louisville.

“GLI’s work is vital to the region’s business community and I look forward to working with the board, volunteer leadership, and staff to grow the organization while promoting the interest and the livelihood of our existing businesses,” said Oyler.

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