An Epcot Center for the elderly

WelcomeHere's a quick trivia question:

What city is completely re-inventing itself to become 'The Silicon Valley for lifelong wellness and aging care?

A) Scottsdale, Arizona
B) Louisville, Kentucky
C) Boca Raton, Florida.

If you picked Muhammad Ali's birthplace, you'd be correct.

Louisville, Kentucky, is rapidly becoming THE mecca for every entrepreneur, venture capitalist or Fortune 500 corporation that aspires to create new products and services for senior citizens.

It's a smart, strategic move for the relatively obscure Midwestern city considering that 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. And, says Advertising Age, “Within the next five years, boomers are on pace to control 70% of the disposable income in the U.S.” That's a whole lot of hearing aids, walkers and adult diapers if you ask me.

But, Louisville's desire is to go far beyond products and services one would associate with today's seniors.

They've already created a massive, downtown innovation hub that includes an 18,000 square-foot experience center they call an Epcot Center for the Elderly. The center enables entrepreneurs to test everything from bathrooms with robotic-tub technology that helps seniors out of the bath to a therapeutic motion simulation system that enables grandma to experience everything from jet skiing to motorcycle riding (all from the comfort of her BarcaLounger). Talk about the little old lady from Pasadena! (I may have to order one of those babies in 20 years in case I don't summit Mt. Everest).

Based upon what I've read, Louisville seems to be a superb example of public and private sector collaboration to achieve a desired goal. Government officials, local business executives and just about anyone else with energy and a few extra bucks is pitching in to change Louisville's image from a city of bourbon, fast food and the Kentucky Derby to the Davos of movers and shakers who want to create products for folks who just can't move and shake like they used to.

I could go on and on, but Louisville's accomplishments show what Americans CAN do when they set their minds to it.

In fact, if it were up to me, I'd relocate President Obama's upcoming State-Of-The-Union address to Louisville. And, I'd have a local octogenarian give the president a lift to the podium in a touch screen sensitive, video game equipped, battery-charged SeniorScooter. As for the audience, I'd seat the lawmakers in specially-equipped BarcaLoungers with video screens that depict a safe, upbeat and economically stable country.

I think we need an Epcot Center for Congress.

2 thoughts on “An Epcot Center for the elderly

  1. Thanks for the additional info, Sam. I never thought I’d call Louisville a best practice for anything but, clearly, the city’s really gotten its act together.

  2. Interesting piece, Steve. Louisville has been putting some concentrated effort in on several fronts to build the city up (and get on more than that unhealthiest American cities list you blogged about awhile back). The bourbon business is booming (largest expansion since the end of prohibition, driven by both greater interest in the U.S. and by greater international interest), which has created quite a bit of tourism interest in the “Bourbon Trail” of distilleries. And there’s been a major “cultural renaissance” there–leading to Lonely Planet just naming Louisville top domestic tourist destination recommendation of 2013. And all of it, it seems, has been achieved by balancing industry/governmental partnerships (at least from a casual observer like me who lives down the Interstate a bit).