Glenn Waldrop had originally decided that he would retire from his position in state government in November and see his son graduate high school before he would take on another job. When Downtown Frankfort Inc. Executive Director Kelly Everman announced her departure, Waldrop’s plans changed.
“This opportunity came about and I really like working within the community on projects that really have a goal of improving the way of life for the people that in the community,” Waldrop said, adding that what was he missed most when he left the Frankfort Plant Board.
Waldrop, who has previously worked as public information officer for the Kentucky Department of Revenue and the Frankfort Plant Board, was recently named the executive director of DFI and the Bourbon on the Banks Festival. The two groups decided to look for a joint director last fall.
Waldrop was chosen from a pool of 23 applicants. His salary will be $70,000 a year and funded by both DFI and Bourbon on the Banks, said outgoing DFI President Terri Bennett. Everman's salary was $45,000 when she was hired in 2018, according to a previous State Journal article.
Waldrop grew up in Owenton and attended Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. In 1995, Waldrop moved to Frankfort and worked for the Department of Fish and Wildlife on Kentucky Afield projects, beginning his 27-year career in public information and media. While there is some transition from those roles to the DFI/Bourbon on the Banks directorship, Waldrop said both are about the same thing — people.
“It’s all about communicating with people and trying to make where you are better every day, and that doesn’t change,” Waldrop said.
In 2011, Waldrop became the public information coordinator for FPB. He was the first to have the role for the municipal utility. After leaving FPB, Waldrop joined the Department of Revenue as its public information officer. During his tenure there, the state approved demolition of the Capital Plaza Tower. In January, Waldrop started in his newest role. Earlier this week, Waldrop attended his first DFI board meeting as the executive director.
Bennett said Waldrop’s integration in the community and understanding of the city's progress stood out to her in the selection progress. In the work ahead, she said Waldrop’s sensibility will serve him well in this role.
“One of the positive things about Glenn is that he is level-headed,” she said. “He maintains a consistent demeanor. He’s nice to everybody. He’s courteous. He’s a professional. And I think that’s something that’s going to translate very well in this position.”
Tom Bennett, Terri Bennett's husband and chair for the Bourbon on the Banks Festival, said Waldrop’s reputation was also a factor for him in selecting Waldrop for the joint position. The two previously worked together in state government and Bourbon on the Banks is looking forward to welcoming Waldrop to the team, Tom Bennett said.
“I think his biggest strength for us is his knowledge of the community,” Tom Bennett said. “He has a well-established reputation as a professional communicator. He knows a lot of people here in Frankfort, and that’s going to be very valuable to us.”
Newly elected DFI President Rene True also said Waldrop was chosen for his connections to Frankfort and the community. However, Waldrop’s experience with ongoing projects stood out to True.
“What impressed me in the interview, though … was his grasp of issues in downtown, specifically Parcels B and C and to some extent the (Downtown) Master Plan,” True said.
Both said their first order of business will be further defining the role DFI is to play in the implementation of the Downtown Master Plan, such as whether the organization should be a project manager or only take charge of implementing certain parts of the plan. Last summer, the Capital Plaza Community Engagement Committee voted to disband and pass implementation to DFI, with a provision that DFI would receive $150,000 in city funds for the work.
“We are going to play a critical role in anything that has to do with development and improvement of downtown, simply by our charter and what we are doing here,” Waldrop said. “What that specific role is, I think, will be defined and it will certainly be a partnership with the city and other organizations.”
The City of Frankfort and the Franklin County Fiscal Court approved the Downtown Master Plan in late 2018. It envisions mixed-use commercial and residential redevelopment, improving traffic and circulation, engaging with Frankfort’s riverfront and more ways to encourage growth in the area.
With the shared services agreement between DFI and Bourbon on the Banks, some changes will come to the lineup of events. DFI’s annual fundraising event Bourbonanza, which is an auction of rare bourbon, spirits and related products, will now move from October to a VIP dinner during Bourbon on the Banks.
The date for Bourbon on the Banks 2020 has been set for the weekend of Aug. 29. True, who served as an interim director of the festival after Wendy Kobler moved out of the community, said the festival “fits in hand and glove with what DFI’s mission and the master plan have in store.”
Making Bourbonanza part of Bourbon on the Banks weekend could strengthen both events, he said.
“The rare bourbon auction, which was the main focus of Bourbonaza, I think could be another draw to bring in people from outside the community to come in for that because Bourbon on the Banks had a larger marketing budget,” True said. "Now they have something else to market.”
The Summer Concert Series will begin on June 5 and will take place on the first and third Fridays of June, July and August, Waldrop said. Selection of the musicians who will perform is underway. While he doesn’t expect any major changes to happen to the event, he is looking forward to growing it into an even bigger success.
Waldrop said some areas that will have to be a focus for DFI, Bourbon on the Banks and their partners in future revitalization of Downtown Frankfort will be development of housing, Parcels B and C and the riverfront, as well as recruiting businesses to the area.
“We want this entire community to thrive, and we think it can start with downtown and some of the wonderful things that are happening here now and what we anticipate will happen going forward,” he said.