Providing parking and the cost of parking is a critical factor today. It was one issue that was facing Humana, one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health benefits company, headquartered in Louisville, Ky.
In the central business district of Louisville, Humana employs approximately 8,500 associates that work in a five-block area. Brent Densford, director of workplace solutions with Humana, says, “with 8,500 associates in a five-block radius, as you can imagine parking is a little bit of a challenge.
“And, being a second-tier city, public transportation isn’t really first and foremost on most people’s minds. This is still a community where essentially everyone drives to work.” He adds, “As we continued to grow, the parking experience began to deteriorate for our associates.”
At the time, Humana was already offering TARC vouchers to its employees. Employees that did not have access to a vehicle or didn’t want to pay their portion of parking could ride with a voucher. Densford mentions roughly 150 people were using the voucher system each month.
The Main & Market St. Trolley provides service that runs between Humana and Lousiville Slugger Field, the minor league baseball stadium where many employees park.
More than just parking issues, Humana was looking at a number of things. First, Densford says, was to create an enhanced experience for its associates.
“Associate experience first,” he states. “We just wanted to enhance the experience, give people a chance to not have to go out and find parking, not have to park in a location that they believe is a far distance.” He adds, “An equal benefit that we could provide for all associates for a relatively small charge.”
Second, Humana was active in its focus on sustainability and green efforts. “We’re very focused on, as a non-manufacturing business, still trying to reduce our carbon footprint,” Densford says. He adds that Humana has recently partnered with the EPA’s Energy Star and the Alliance with Kentucky Excel, a program that the state of Kentucky has to bring green businesses to the area.
Regarding the TARC partnership and Humana’s sustainability focus, Densford says, “This just fit nicely into that umbrella, environmental consciousness.
“The third thing we’re trying to accomplish is trying to help and invest in the community,” Densford says. Along with one of the local board members, Densford has been working with the downtown development corporation on alternatives to rush hour.
“Federal grants are beginning to be quite scarce for infrastructure enhancements like new roads,” he says. “We were looking with our downtown development corporation to apply for several new grants from the federal government that look at alternative ways to help reduce overcrowding due to traffic.”
He adds, “We’re trying to avoid getting to the status of some of the first-tier cities with traffic congestion problems and we felt like this was one way to help community effort and to help on some of our applications as a city, to look for federal grant money to look for alternative ways to reduce traffic.”
The competitive focus on talent and getting people to move to Louisville was the other major concern. Like many other cities, a lot of the growth had moved out to the suburban locations for many years. Densford says, “We have quite an increase in residential housing in the central business district.
“A lot of infrastructure’s coming back to downtown Louisville. There’s a lot of varied price range housing that’s available and that’s exciting,” he says. “We’re drawing new types of talent that’s interested in working in an urban environment looking at Louisville.”
He mentions that Humana realized that part of that urban development would be the urban continual development of the mass transportation system.