Louisville loses three executives who have left their mark on the city


by Mike Colombo


Posted on December 13, 2011 at 1:40 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 13 at 1:42 AM

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WHAS11) – They brought jobs, money, and vision to Louisville and the state of Kentucky. On Monday, three well-known and influential businessmen are stepping down from their jobs.

From GE's Appliance Park to the KFC Yum! Center and beyond, their impact on the community will be felt for decades to come.

Jim Campbell, Jim Host, and Joe Reagan are three executives who have left their stamp on Louisville.

Campbell is the longtime CEO of GE's Louisville-based appliance park. With roots in New York, Campbell came to Louisville in 1992.

In 2005, Campbell brokered a competitive wage agreement with the unions which lowered salaries. He also brought back more than 1,000 jobs to Louisville from Mexico and China.  Campbell's success led GE to invest $800 million in Louisville's production of new, go-green appliances.

On Campbell's resignation, Kentucky's US Congressman John Yarmouth said, "Jim has been a strong and creative leader during one of the most difficult economic times our country has endured. I wish him all the best.”

Campbell will retire at the end of the month, after 30 years with GE.

Next, when you think of the KFC Yum! Center, the Cardinals or world class entertainment may come to mind rather than Jim Host. The venue simply would not have been possible the way it stands now without Host as Chairman of the Arena Authority. Host is resigning from that position at 74-years-old, but holds his latest work in the highest regard.

"To see all of that is probably the greatest professional feeling I've ever had in my life," said Host.

But the Yum! Center project may not be his last. The renovation project to Rupp Arena is on his radar.

Finally, for the last 14 years with Greater Louisville, Inc., Joe Reagan has helped make Louisville matter on a national and international stage at a salary of $370,000 a year.

Reagan is now heading to the gateway to the west, where he will take over the same position with the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

"I think Louisville has been really focused on being welcoming and open to all of our neighbors from all over the world. That has made a difference," said Reagan.

Reagan's resignation is effective January 26. Trace Trout, GLI's Executive Vice President, will serve as interim CEO.