Francene Cucinello has lived in Louisville since 2003, the longest she’s stayed in any city during her professional career. In the last 10 years, she’s lived in 12 different places, including St. Louis, Nashville, Charlotte and Washington, D.C. So what keeps her here, and what will make her go?
“I really, really like Louisville! I do. And I knew nothing about it when I came here. There are people with forward vision here. And that’s exciting. The city is building. Boy, there are lots of people who are holding it by the ankles trying to stop it. But it is building. We have good education facilities. We’re going to have a beautiful new arena. We have good museums. There’re friendly people here. Not fake Southern hospitality but genuine. I love the track. I love the horse industry. We have bourbon! We have a good location. I like the airport. The standard of living is really good. It’s a very nice city.”
“There’re people who don’t want to grow. The bridge? Oh, we’re building that bridge, trust me! This may be completely arrogant, but when they started talking about the arena, and people said the same thing to me — ‘Oh, they’ve been trying to build an arena for 30 years. Forget it, Francene. Give it up. The only reason you think it’s going to happen is because you’re new’ — so I thought, if I’m going to live in this city, I’m going to build this city the way I want it to be. And I pushed for that arena. And it’s happening. Every month I have the bridge people on, and I say, ‘I wanna see big things that dig!’
“There’s no reason we’re not more like Nashville. There’s no reason we’re not more like Cincinnati. There’s no reason we don’t have some of the plusses that St. Louis has. I’m not a fan of St. Louis, but they have developed their waterfront far more than we have. These are the same cities, basically. Some people say they don’t want to lose the charm. You don’t lose charm when you build buildings. The people are what provide the charm.”
“We’ve got to stop being last or next-to-last in terms of healthcare and education and technology. We’ve got to be more proactive in bringing jobs to replace the manufacturing jobs that we’re watching fall away. We can’t pretend that everything is rosy. It’s wonderful here, but there are problems, too. But what city doesn’t have them?”