Louisville-Lexington collaboration welcome

The college sports rivalry between Lexington and Louisville has showcased some great athletic talent.

The new economic collaboration between Kentucky's two largest cities also features an impressive lineup: The Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program has agreed to provide analysis, research, ideas and other support.

One of the world's preeminent think tanks, Brookings created the program in 1996 in response to the driving force metropolitan areas are in the economy.

Eighty-three percent of the U.S. population, 85 percent of the jobs and 92 percent of all college graduates are in metro areas.

Agreeing to chair the 18-month study is former state commerce commissioner Jim Host, who has spearheaded ambitious projects in both cities, most recently overseeing development of the KFC Yum Center by the Louisville Arena Authority.

Last, but not least, are two mayors who think big, are eager to innovate and can test their ideas against long and successful experience in business and finance.

Their initial idea is to leverage the foundation laid by Toyota and Ford to spur job growth in advanced manufacturing and related sectors.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer are talking about creating a "super-region to strengthen Kentucky's position in the global economy."

Kentucky has suffered in many ways from hyper-parochialism, which is hard to overcome in a state that's divided into 120 counties, or "little kingdoms" as historian Robert Ireland called them in his book of the same name.

Our state will never be more than an economic also-ran without regional thinking, planning and, most important, action.

Northern Kentucky is the best example of reaping benefits from cross-county cooperation.

This economic match between Lexington and Louisville makes so much sense the only question is: What took so long?