Commerce Lexington Economic Development Blog


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Lexington Ranks 7th Best City for Attracting Foreign Investment (April 14, 2017)

The economic development team at Commerce Lexington is always working to attract companies to the region and to help existing companies grow. In fact, we regularly meet with 160 businesses each year that fall into our strategic targets. International companies are a large part of that effort, and we're proud to announce that Lexington has ranked #7 Top Small American City of the Future 2017/18 for FDI Strategy by fDi Intelligence! Continue reading. 

Economic Dashboard (March 31, 2017)

Introducing Commerce Lexington's Economic Dashboard! This tool measures aspects of Lexington and the Bluegrass Region that are important to economic development, such as our highly educated workforce, business climate, foreign direct investment, and quality of life. Continue reading. 

Life Sciences and Biotech in Lexington (March 17, 2017)

The Bluegrass Region has acquired a niche within the plant and genetic engineering segment of the life sciences industry, and many area companies are creating valuable pharmaceuticals, including Alltech, Naprogenix, ParaTechs Corporation, MosquitoMate, Evolva, Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals, and Hera BioLabs. Continue reading. 

Lexington's Health Care Industry (March 10, 2017)

The 2017 Kentucky Annual Economic Report released by the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) identified health care as a growing industry in Kentucky, accounting for mroe jobs than manufacturing, and anticipates that this trend will continue. Health care and social assistance jobs are in high demand in Kentucky, with over 7,500 advertised jobs, according to the Kentucky Career Center (on March 8, 2017). The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimatse that there are over 16,700 establishments within the health care and social assistance industry in Kentucky, employing over 240,000 people. Fayette County is a major health care hub in Kentucky, with the second-most health care and social assistance establishments and employees in the state and the fourth-highest wages. Continue reading. 

Lexington MSA's GDP Over $28.5 Billion (February 24, 2017)

The Lexington MSA GDP totaled over $28.5 billion in 2015, the most recent year for which data is currently available. The largest contributor was manufacturing at $5 billion, followed by real estate, rental, and leasing at $4.1 billion, and professional and business services at $3 billion. Durable goods manufacturing made up 75% of manufacturing, such as motor vehicel parts, computer and electronics products, machinery manufacturing, and fabricated metal products. Half of the business and professional services GDP was professional, scientific, and technical services such as legal occupations, accounting, engineering, and veterinary services. Continue reading. 

"Robust Growth" Expected for Kentucky (February 10, 2017)

The University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) released the 2017 Kentucky Annual Economic Report earlier this week. The report includes economic inputs and outputs and offers a comprehensive review of Kentucky's economy organized into twelve areas: Agriculture, Community, Economics, Economic Security, Education, Energy, Environment, Health, Infrastructure, Innovation, Population, and Public Finance. There are nearly 170 sub-topics, meaning that a complete review is beyond the scope of this blog. Let's review a few aspects of Kentucky's economy covered during the Economic Outlook Conference, attended by two members of the Commerce Lexington Economic Development team. Continue reading. 

BEAM International 2.0 Export Promotion Grant Program (February 3, 2017)

We're excited to introduce the BEAM International 2.0 Export Promotion Grant! Companies may apply for grants up to $5,000 for export development services, including preparing for exporting, identifying best markets, participating in trade shows and trade missions, and finding the right international business partner. Ideal companies are small businesses with ten or more full-time employees and an exportable product or service, who are operating profitably, and are ready to find new international customers. Continue reading. 

Lexington's Innovative Population (January 20, 2017)

Lexington earned a 106.2 on StatsAmerica's Innovation 2.0 Index, indicating a "very high relative capacity for innovation" and ranking among the top 10% in the country. The overall score is based on five equally weighted component indexes. Lexington performed particularly well on the Human Capital and Knowledge Creation Index, which measures a region's ability to innovate based on population characteristics and knowledge infrastructure, using factors such as educational attainment, knowledge creation, technology diffusion, and STEM education and occupations. In fact, Lexington's score of 148.1 ranks the city first in Kentucky and among the top 3% in the country. Continue reading. 

Measuring Innovation in Lexington (January 6, 2017)

Last January we looked at StatsAmerica's Innovation Index, a measure of an area's innovation capacity and output. The updated Innovation 2.0 incorporates new research and 50 new variables that better measure innovation, such as knowledge spillovers, technology diffusion, and foreign direct investment. Last year, Lexington scored a 101.8 on the Innovation Index. This year, Lexington has scored a 106.2! The Headline Index is the overall innovation score, made up of five equally weighted component indexes, with an optional Social Capital Index. In total, over 80 variables go into the Innovation Index. Continue reading. 

Lexington's 2016 Rankings (December 19, 2016)

Lexington received numerous rankings and accolades this year, praising our high quality of life, educated workfoce, business climate, and other assets. Our most prominent ranking was Chamber of the Year! Commerce Lexington Inc. was named Chamber of the Year in the large chamber category by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), recognizing the dual role chambers have in leading businesses and communities and honoring excellence in operations, member services, and community leadership. To see Lexington's other rankings, such as #14 City with the Fastest Growing Rate of New Startups and #1 Best Midsized City for New College Grads Starting Careers, click here to continue reading

Lexington's Population Growth (December 9, 2016)

Lexington's population has reached over 314,000! The most recent Census Bureau data puts Lexington's population at 314,488 people, ranking Lexington the 61st largest city in the country. Lexington's population has steadily grown over the past few years. On average, 3,500 people moved to Lexington every year over the past five years, representing a population growth of about 1.18% every year. In total, over 17,700 people have moved to Lexington since 2010, a population increase of 6%. Over the past ten years, Lexington's population has grown by nearly 60,000 people, or 23%. Lexington consistently receives praise as a great place to work, live, and play, and the city's increasing number of residents supports these accolades. Continue reading. 

Business and Professional Services (November 17, 2016)

The business and professional services industry provides service and support for other businesses in various industries. Primary services are highly technical and specialized services, such as legal, architectural, engineering, and consulting, that require expertise and extensive training. Secondary services are routine basic services that support daily activities, such as back-office support operations, accounting, and processing facilities. These services help companies operate, and the business and professional services industry is a targeted industry for Lexington's economic development. In 2015, approximately 28,200 people were employed in Lexington's business and professional services industry, earning an average of $49,268 per year. Continue reading. 

Kentucky Association for Economic Development (November 9, 2016)

This week, Commerce Lexington's economic development team is attending the Kentucky Association for Economic Development Fall Conference. Check back next week to learn about the business and professional services industry in Lexington! 

Smart Cookies! (October 28, 2016)

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released 2015 data and Lexington has ranked among the most educated communities in the United States! 41.6% of Lexingtonians over age 25 have a bachelor's degree or higher, ranking our city #11 in the nation among cities with at least 300,000 people. Equally impressive, 18.9% have an advanced degree, ranking Lexington #9 in the nation. Furthermore, 60.1% of Lexington residents ages 18 through 24 are currently enrolled in college or graduate school (ranking Lexington #10 among large cities), ensuring that Lexington will continue to have talented, highly educated people for all industries. The ten institutions of higher education in the Bluegrass Region offer programs that enrich our workforce and help our industries thrive. Let's look at a few programs. Continue reading. 

Lexington, KY Downtown Development Snapshot 2016 (October 13, 2016)

The Lexington Downtown Development Authority recently released the Downtown Snapshot 2016, a publication that examines quality of life and economic vitality trends in Lexington, with an emphasis on downtown development and community growth. Some findings from the Downtown Snapshot 2016 include: Downtown Lexington hosted over 2.8 million overnight visitors, 74% in town for leisure and 26% or business. Thirteen licensed bourbon distillers are within a 45-minute drive of downtown Lexington. There are 187 restaurants and bars in and around the Central Business District, with 17 new restaurants, bars, and retail stores opened since 2014. Major projects from the past year and a half include the Town Branch Commons linear park, Euclid Avenue and South Limestone commercial corridors, the renovation of the Historic Fayette County Courthouse, and Gigabit City Initiative. Continue reading. 

Lexington's Unemployment Rate is 3.3%! (September 30, 2016)

According to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program, Lexington's unemployment rate reached a low of 3.3% in August (most recent data available, preliminary), the lowest August unemployment rate since August 2000, when it was 2.9%. This August's 3.3% is also the lowest unemployment rate this year, except for April 2016 when it was also 3.3%. Continue reading. 

Jobs in Lexington - Mapped! Part 2 (September 9, 2016)

Last year's blog entry Jobs in Lexington - Mapped! explored Robert Manduca's Where Are The Jobs? Map, which used data from the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics database to map every job in the United States. At the time, 2010 was the most recent data available, but 2014 data has since been published and Mr. Manduca has updated his map. Each dot represents one job and is color-coded by industry. Lexington's workforce is easily spotted on a national scale, indicating the competitiveness of our region. Taking a closer look at the city, Lexington continues to demonstrate a healthy diverse economy, represented by all four colors and industries citywide. Continue reading. 

3.8% July Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 2001! (September 2, 2016)

According to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program, Lexington's July unemployment rate (the most recent available) was 3.8%, the lowest July unemployment rate since 2001! (When looking at the unemployment rate over long periods of time, it's a good idea to use the same month over time to avoid seasonal fluctuations.) Lexington's unemployment rate remained steady between 4.1% and 4.8% during 2002 through 2007, averaging 4.4% before spiking in July 2009, similar to other regions' unemployment rates throughout the nation during that time due to the recession. Continue reading. 

Immigrants in Lexington (August 26, 2016)

Building off of last week's blog, let's take a look at immigrants in Lexington. (Unfortunately, much Census data available at the state level for the foreign born population is not available at the county level, such as occupations, so there's less information than was presented in the New Americans in Kentucky report.) According to Census data, just over 26,500 Lexington residents were born in another country, or roughly 9% of Lexington's population, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the state's immigrant population. Most originated from Mexico (32%), followed by China (9%), India (5%), and Japan (4%). Of these 26,500 people, nearly 28% have naturalized and become U.S. citizens, while 73% have not. Continue reading. 

The Contributions of New Americans in Kentucky (August 19, 2016)

The New American Economy recently produced an overview of immigrants in Kentucky. The report analyzed multiple data sources, including the Census Bureau, and summarized the contributions of immigrants in Kentucky in several important areas. Take a look at a few key findings from the Contributions of New Americans in Kentucky. 160,000 Kentucky residents were born in another country, accounting for 3.6% of the state's population. This may seem small, but the percentage has been increasing since 1990, when less than 1% of the state's population was foreign-born. Furthermore, immigrants tend to have greater impacts on entrepreneurship, income and tax contribution... Continue reading. 

Commerce Lexington Named Chamber of the Year! (August 11, 2016)

Commerce Lexington Inc. was named "Chamber of the Year" in the large chamber category (Category 4) during the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives' (ACCE) annual convention in Savannah, Georgia. At an awards program last night, Commerce Lexington Inc. President and CEO Bob Quick and a portion of its staff accepted the honor from ACCE, after competing against other category finalists, which included other chambers from Brooklyn (NY), Jacksonville (FL), and Tacoma-Pierce County (WA). Continue reading. 

Mid-2016 Unemployment Rates (August 5, 2016)

June unemployment rates were recently released, and Lexington continues to maintain low unemployment! According to data from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program and the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, Lexington's unemployment rate was 3.9% in June 2016, a slight uptick from the previous two months but relatively steady over the past year. Over the past year, Lexington's unemployment rate was consistently below the national average, by 1.2 percentage points each month on average, and below Kentucky's unemployment rate, by 1.6 percentage points. Continue reading. 

Lexington Ranks #1 Best Large City for First Time Home Buyers! (July 28 2016)

Lexington ranked #1 Best Large City for First Time Home Buyers by WalletHub and ranked #10 Best City Overall for First Time Home Buyers! This 2016 analysis considered housing affordability, the local real estate market, and quality of life. Variables included the average cost of homeowner's insurance, average household income compared to the average housing prices, home energy costs, and the city's recreational options, weather, and school systems. The Cost of Living Index reinforces this ranking, particularly the Housing component which includes home purchase prices, mortgage rates and monthly payments, and apartment rent. Lexington's 2015 annual average housing score was 76.3. Continue reading. 

Lexington's Transportation Options Increase City's Accessibility (July 8, 2016)

Lexington is an ideal location for new project locations and expansions. Lexington offers all the amenities of a major metropolitan area with the immediate escape of unforgettable rolling countryside. To help citizens and visitors access the city, Lexington is committed to walkable neighborhoods and healthy lifestyles. Lexington's traditional roadways grant quick access to anywhere in the city and its numerous transportation options increase citizens' and employees' access to restaurants, attractions, and businesses, helping to make Lexington a great place to work, live, and play. Continue reading

Lexington's Visitor Industries, Part 4 - Lexington's Convention Industry (June 23, 2016)

In addition to local attractions, Lexington has a growing convention industry anchored by the Lexington Center. Lexington's visitor industries and convention center will get a boost next year with a $250 million expansion and renovation of the Lexington convention center. The project will begin in Spring 2017 and create a new 100,000 square foot exhibit hall, 22,500 square foot ballroom, and 30,000 square feet of meeting space to help Lexington remain competitive, retain, and expand convention center business and attract events. The Kentucky General Assembly approved $60 million in state funding towards the project in April 2016, and the remaining funding will include city bond money, hotel and motel tax increases, and borrowing. Continue reading

Lexington's Visitor Industries, Part 3 - Things to Do (June 14, 2016)

Lexington is a vibrant cultural hub with live music, art studios and galleries, museums, theaters, and outdoor festivals that fuel the Visitor Industries and bring people into Lexington. Visitor attractions abound and listing them all here would be impossible, but let's take a look at a few highlights. In the past few years, downtown Lexington has deliberately revitalized, adding shops and restaurants that capture the diverse culture of Lexington's population. Over 100 retail shops and 170 restaurants and bars are located downtown, as well as 9 museums. Continue reading.


Lexington's Visitor Industries, Part 2 - Travel/Tourism Contributes $2 Billion to Fayette County Economy, guest blog by Mark Quinn Ramer (June 1, 2016)

Next time you visit your favorite local restaurant, take a scenic drive along a country road or sip your favorite Kentucky bourbon, keep in mind that those attractions not only entertain us, they provide billions in economic development. That's right, billions. A new state survey showed that the total travel spending in 2015 topped the $2 billion mark for the first time ever in Fayette County. According to the "Economic Impact of Kentucky's Travel and Tourism Industry - 2014 and 2015," Fayette County had $2.02 billion in total travel spending, and the statewide impact was more than $13.7 billion. The annual survey also showed that tourism was responsible for more than 186,000 jobs in Kentucky in 2015 - with 15,339 of those in Fayette County. Continue reading.    


Lexington's Visitor Industries, Part 1 (May 18, 2016) 

Lexington is at the heart of the horse industry, the start of the Bourbon Trail, and the home of the University of Kentucky, drawing tourists and visitors to our region. Events and conferences at the Lexington Center, which contains Rupp Arena and the Lexington Opera House, and national and international events such as Alltech's Annual International Symposium and the 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championship also bring people to our city. These and other attractions and assets led Commerce Lexington to adopt the Visitor Industried as one of our Strategic Targets. Continue reading. 


Updated IEDC Data! (May 6, 2016) 

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization for economic developers. The IEDC has compiled a set data standard for site selection, organized by categories such as demographics, labor force characteristics, four year colleges, and taxes. These data sets are intended to provide information that a company or site selector considering a region would need to understand the local economy and community. We've recently updated the IEDC SIte SelectioN Data Standards for Lexington and the surrounding Bluegrass Region. The full data sets can be found on our website under Data, Facts, and Figures (look around while you're there, there's lots of interesting information about Lexington on our website. Continue reading.


International Investments in Lexington (April 28, 2016) 

The horse industry is an iconic aspect of Lexington's culture and economy that has attracted international investment to the area. Kentucky and the Bluegrass Region produce the best horses in the world-- 9 of the 12 Triple Crown winners were born within 30 miles of downtown Lexington and 77% of Kentucky Derby winners were born in Kentucky. The horse industry spans the globe as an interconnected community that fosters business relationships, with Kentucky and Lexington at the heart. Continue reading.  


Lexington's International Population (April 22, 2016) 

As a previous blog post explored, the Bluegrass Region is home to 20% of Kentucky's foreign-owned business facilities and 24% of such employees. Nearly half are in Fayette and Scott counties, while nearly all of the employees are in Scott, Fayette, and Madison counties. Bluegrass Region residents will not be surprised to learn that the majority (63%) of these facilities are owned by Japanese investors, employing more than 15,000 people full-time and representing around 73% of all FDI jobs in the Bluegrass. Continue reading. 


Lexington Scores 90.4 on the Cost of Living Index (April 14, 2016) 

Every quarter, members of Commerce Lexington economic development team participate in the Cost of Living Index for Lexington. The cost of Living Index is a measure of how much it costs to live in a given area and allows comparison between different cities and urban areas across the country. Approximately 270 cities participate in the Cost of Living Index. To participate, we gather pricing data about a specific sample of goods, products, and services in six categories: groceries, housing, utilities, transporation, health care, and miscellaneous. each of these categories is weighted and combined into an overall socre, the Composite Index. Continue reading. 


Kentucky awarded the 2015 Governor's Cup! Lexington recognized among Top Metros! (March 17, 2016) 

Kentucky has been awarded the Governor's Cup for the second year by Site Selection Mangazine! 
In order to be considered for the Gorvernor's Cup, projects must fulfill one or more of the following criteria: capital investment of at least $1 million, create 50 or more jobs, add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space. Kentucky ranked #1 in Projects Per Capita and #5 in Number of Projects overall. Many of the capital projects that helped Kentucky win the Governor's Cup were in the Bluegrass Region, including Valvoline's $35 million investment in their headquarters and R&D operations in Lexington. Continue reading.



2015 Unemployment Rates in the Bluegrass Region (March 4, 2016) 

Continuing last week's discussion of the unemployment rate, let's look at how the Bluegrass Region compares. According to data from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program and the Kentucky Office of Employment and Traning, the Bluegrass Region's average annual unemployment rate for 2015 was 4.0% raning from a low of 3.3% in October to a high of 4.6% in January. Throughout 2015, the Bluegrass Region's monthly unemployment rate was on average 1.3 percentage points lower than Kentucky's monthly unemployment rate and 1.4 percentage points lower than the national unemployment rate. The Bluegrass Region's 2015 unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2001, when it was also 4.0%. Continue reading. 


Unemployment Rates (February 23, 2016) 

Unemployment data for 2015 was recently release and Lexington is continuing to thrive. According to data from the Local Area of Unemployment Statistics Program and the Kentucky Office of Employment and Traning, Lexington's 2015 unemployment rate was 3.8%. Although unemployment has been decreasing every year since 2009, this year was the lowest since 2001 when the annual unemployment rate was 3.7%. Lexington's unemployment rate was lowest in October at 3.5% and highest in January at 4.3%, but the unemployment rate has not reached 4% since July. In December, there were 165,358 people in Lexington's labor force, of which 158,988 were employed and 6,370 were unemployed for an unemployment rate of 3.9%. Continue reading. 


Innovation Index: Part 2 (January 28, 2016) 

Continuing last week's discussion of StatsAmerica's Innovation Index, let's compare Lexington with the innovation capacity of cities with whom we compete. Lexington outshines our peer cities, performing better than every city on almost every measure. Lexington is particularly strong in Productivity and Employment-- variables that indicate the level of innovation present in a local economy, including high-tech employment growth, patent activity, job growth vs. population growth, and GDP per worker. Lexington's workforce and innovation does not stop at the county border, however. The city draws talent from the surrounding counties of the Bluegrass Region, just as our peer cities draw talent from their MSAs. Continue reading. 


Innovation Index (January 15, 2016) 

Innovation is increasingly recognized as vital to economic growth, and StatsAmerica has produced the means of measuring a county's innovativeness: the Innovation Index. The Innovation Index is a way of understanding an area's capacity for innovation and innovation activity, revealing individual drivers of regional innovation, and providing comparison to other countries, region, and states. Four weighted composite indexes make up the Innovation Index, with a total of 22 variables. These variables include both innovation (capacity for innovation) and innovation outputs (results of innovation). Continue reading. 

Lexington's 2015 Rankings (December 22, 2015)  

Lexington received numerous rankings and accolades this year, praising our high quality of life, educated workforce, business climate, and other assets.  Continue reading


Software and IT in Lexington (December 10, 2015) 

Lexington is a thriving location for software and technology. Home to the world headquarters of Lexmark and housing software industry giants Xerox, IBM, and Hewlett Packard, Lexington consistenly receives high praise for its software and IT industry, such as #17 America's 25 High-Tech Hot Spots by Atlantic Cities (2013), #4 Best Entrepreneurial Activity by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2015), and being named a 2013 Google eCity. Continue reading

Lexington Ranks #13 Best Educated Large City! (November 24, 2015) 

According to newly released 2014 Census dara, 40.6% of Lexington's population over age 25 have at least a bachelor's degree and 17.0% have an advanced degree (graduate or professional degree). Compared to other cities with populations of 300,000+ people, Lexington ranks #13 for both bachelor's degree attainment and advanced degree attainment! Equally impressive, 59.5% of Lexington residents ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college or graduate school in 2014, ranking the city 3rd in college enrollment rates. Including the state's flagship university, the University of Kentucky, there are ten colleges and universities within 40 miles of Lexington enrolling nearly 70,000 students and graduating over 15,000 in 2014.  Continue reading

Lexington's Advantages in the Equine Industry (November 6, 2015) 

The horse industry is a leading sector of Kentucky's economy. Over 72,000 jobs are supported by the horse industry in Kentucky and horses were among the state's top 25 exports in 2014, totaling $175 million. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service's 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey, there are 242,400 horses in Kentucky and 2011 equine-related sales totaled approximately $1.2 billion. Lexingon and the Bluegrass Region are a substantial part of Kentucky's horse industry. The 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey estimates that there are 67,500 horses in the Bluegrass Regiona and 24,600 in Lexington alone. Let's put that in perspective. Continue reading


Lexington Welcomes Breeders' Cup! (October 30, 2016) 

Commerce Lexington is proud to be an official partner of the Breeders' Cup World Championship this year, giving us an opportunity to promote our city to thousands of people from around the nation and the world! The Breeders' Cup is a two-day series of Thoroughbred horse races, known as the world's most prestigious international racing event. This year there will be 13 races with approximately $26 million in purses and awards. This is the first time the Breeders' Cup has come to Keeneland and Commerce Lexington is ready to showcase our city. Based on last year's economic impact, the Breeders' Cup is expected to bring $65 million to Lexington's economy. Continue reading


Developing the Bluegrass Region's Manufacturing Workforce (October 23, 2016) 

Manufracturing Month would not be complete without taking a look at paths to becoming a member of the Bluegrass Region's manufacturing workforce. According to the Census Bureau, the manufacturing industry employs over 33,400 Kentuckians in the Bluegrass, or 11.2% of the workforce, making it the 4th largest employing industry in the Region. The median annual wage is just over $46,500 per year, while manufacturing workers in Fayette County earn almost $49,000 per year. In comparison, the national median earnings for manufacturers is just over $42,000. So far in 2015, six manufacturing companies have expanded their operations and two have opened new facilities, investing $108.9 billion and creating 529 additional jobs, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Continue reading.  


MakeTime: Machine Capacity Marketplace (October 14, 2016)

Manufacturing Month continue! The Bluegrass Region has benefited from the presence and investment of manufacturing companies like Toyota, Jif, and Webasto (discussed last week), but Lexington's manufacturing industry has a valuable unique asset: MakeTime. MakeTime is an online manufacturing marketplace for machine time by the hour, based in Lexington. Through MakeTime, machine owners can sell available machine time to buyers who need machine capacity, helping sellers maximize the usefulness and value of their equipment and helping buyers complete orders. MakeTIme was designed to make manufacturing more efficient and to help the manufacturing industry grow. Continue reading.  


Advanced Manufacturing in the Bluegrass (October 7, 2015) 

Advanced manufacturing is a key component of the Bluegrass Region's economy and is a targeted industry for Lexington's economic development. Advanced manufacturing uses innovation and technology to improve manufacturing processes, typically through the incorporation of computer technology, advanced robots, clean technology, information technologies, automation, innovation, precision control of the manufacturing process, customization, sustainaibility, and eco-friendly technologies and practices, and waste reduction. Continue reading

October is Manufacturing Month! (October 1, 2015) 

Gov. Steve Beshear has declared October 2015 to be Manufacturing Month in Kentucky, joining the national movement to celebrate manufacturing and raise awareness that the manufacturing industry is a vital economic driver that offers quality, high-paying careers to Kentuckians. Totaling $3 billion, Kentucky's manufacturing industry represents 18% of Kentucky's GDP. There are over 4,000 manufacturers in Kentucky employing more than 231,000 Kentuckians full-time in jobs that pay an average of $2.57 more per hour than non-manufaturing jobs (the national average is $1.78). Continue reading


Lexington Ranks 4th Best City for Attracting Foreign Investment! (September 17, 2015) 

Here at Commerce Lexington, we're always working to attract companies to the region and to help existing companies grow, and international companies are a large part of that effort. We're proud to say that Lexington has ranked #4 Top 10 Small American Cities of the Future 2015/15 for FDI Strategy by fDi Intelligence! The FDI Intelligence team gathered data on 421 locations in five categories- Economic Potential, Business Friendliness, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, and Connectivity- and a sixth qualitative category, FDI Strategy, was gathered for 105 locations. Continue reading


Startups in Lexington (September 9, 2015) 

Lexington and the Bluegrass Region are a great place for business to locate. Our strategic cultural location, highly educated workforce, diverse economy, network of colleges and universities, high quality of life, low business costs, and transportation access by road, rail and sky have attracted major companies to the area, including Toyota, Xerox, Amazon, Valvoline, and many others. However, Lexington is also good at growing companies. Continue reading


An Intern's Perspective (September 3, 2015) 

We at Commerce Lexington proudly promote the area's well-educated workforce and talented population as key resources for companies locating in our region. In fact, every year Commerce Lexington welcomes talented interns to our staff, many who either call the Bluegrass Region home or who are attending one of our local colletges. Our most recent intern was Faisal Hamza. Faisal was involved with our Public Policy and Economic Development teams and made many meaningful contributions to discussions and projects, particularly about education policy and foreign direct investment. While at Commerce Lexington, Faisal wrote a well-researched report on apprenticeships as a form of workforce training. Continue reading


Education for Kentucky's Aerospace Workforce (August 25, 2015) 

Kentucky's aerospace industry is taking flight! At $7.7 billion, aerospace parts and products were Kentucky's largest export category in 2014 and Kentucky exported more aerospace and aviation products than every other state, except California and Washington. Lexington and the Bluegrass Region are particularly appealing to the aerospace industry because of the area's extensive network of colleges, universities, and other educational institutions with aerospace and aviation programs working to develop the region's workforce. Continue reading


Kentucky's Aerospace Industry is Taking Flight! (August 18, 2015) 

Kentucky's aerospace industry is taking flight! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kentucky exported $27.6 billion in 2014, an increase of 9% from 2013. Although Kentucky is traditionally known for horses and bourbon, aerospace parts and products were the largest export category in 2014 at $7.7 billion, while other transportation (i.e., motor vehicles, parts, bodies, and trailers) totaled almost $6 billion. Furthermore, Kentucky exported more aerospace and aviation products than every other state in the country, except California and Washington. Clearly, aerospace is Kentucky's up-and-coming industry. Continue reading


Lexington's June 2015 Unemployment Rate Lower than Pre-Recession (August 3, 2015) 

June unemployment rates were recently released and the Bluegrass Region continues to show relatively low unemployment levels, avergaging 4.4%. This June marks the sixth anniversary since the end of the most recent recession, which begain in December 2007 and ended in June 2009 according to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research.  Continue reading


Jobs in Lexington-- Mapped! (July 20, 2015) 

Job creation, expansion, and retention are at the core of economic development. Numbers and an accompanying narrative are usually used to explain the economic state of Lexington and the Bluegrass Region, but an exciting new format has just been released. Robert Manduca, a PhD student at Harvard University, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-HOusehold Dynamics database to create an interactive map of jobs, modeled after Dustin Cable's Racial Dot Map. Every job in the United States is plotted on this map. Continue reading


Kentucky's Automotive Industry, Part 2: Economic Contribution (July 7, 2015) 

The Kentucky Automotive Industry Association's report discussed last week and also examined the contribution of Kentucky's automotive industry to the state and regional economies through direct, indirect, and induced effects. Direct effects created by automotive industry companies themselves, such as automotive jobs, production, exports, and payrolls. Indirect effects are caused by inter-industry activities, or business-to-business spending on goods or services used to create automobiles such as trim and engine parts. Induced effects are caused by auto industry employees' household spending. In other words, auto businesses spend money at other businesses (indirect effects) and auto employees spend money (wages) in the regional economy (induced effects). Both create jobs and tax revenue. Continue reading


Kentucky's Automotive Industry, Part 1: Kentucky, Lexington, and Competition States (June 30, 2015) 

Earlier this month, the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association (KAIA) released "The Economic Impact of the Automotive Industry in Kentucky." This report comprehensively detailed Kentucky's growing automotive industry, compared Kentucky to competition states, and analyzed the industry's economic and fiscal impact on the state economy, including jobs and taxes. Competition states included states that border Kentucky (Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) and five southeastern states (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina). These states comprise almost all of the auto manufacturing corridor and house tha majority of the country's auto assemply facilities.  Continue reading


Biotech is Booming in Lexington! (June 22, 2015) 

Last week was the annual Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention. Every year BIO brings biotechnology leaders and innovators together to showcase cutting edge technologies and to offer a week-long opportunity for participants to network and create partnerships. Attendee's at last year's convention included over 15,000 people from more than 60 countries, 300+ academic institutions, top 25 pharma companies, top 20 CROs and CMOs, and 1,800 exhibitors. Lexington is an ideal location for innovative and high-tech companies, largely for its human assets. Over 50 biotech companies have chosen to locate in Lexington. Continue reading


Kentucky Proud Encourages Local Products (June 15, 2015) 

According to the Kentucky Proud Logo Guidelines, products can qualify for the Kentucky Proud program if the major ingredients are grown or processed in Kentucky and if the major ingredients were produced on a farm, production facility or corporate headquarters located in Kentucky. In addition, all facilities must meet or exceed federal and state regulations. Continue reading


Art in the Bluegrass! Lexington Ranks 6th Most Inspiring City for Young Artists (June 8, 2015) 

WorldWideLearn recently sought to identify cities that inspire, support, and encourage young artists, and ranked Lexington 6th Most Inspiring City for Young Artists. The report looked at cities with populations over 300,000 (for the record, there are 64) and used seven metrics to determine city rankings: college or graduate school enrollment, percentage of the population between the ages of 18 and 34, art dealers, performing arts companies, museums, fine arts schools, and creative industries businesses. In every area, Lexington performs better than the national average. What exactly is a "creative industries" business?  Continue reading


International Companies in the Bluegrass (June 1, 2015) 

Kentucky is home to many international companies with operations located around the state, and the Bluegrass Region has particularly benefited from foreign direct investment (FDI). According to the KY Cabinet for Economic Development, the eight counties of the Bluegrass are home to 20% of the foreign-owned facilities in Kentucky and 24% of the employees. Specifically, there are 88 facilities with ownership from 17 different countries, employing 20,891 people full time. Continue reading


The Economic Impact of Keeneland (Fall): $455 million (May 27, 2015) 

Kentucky is famous for its horses and Keeneland is a major part of living in the Bluegrass. Thousands of people flock to Keeneland every year to bet on the horses and spend time with friends enjoying Keeneland's festive atmosphere. But Keeneland isn't just a unique entertainment venue-- it's also a significant part of our local economy.The University of Kentucky's Center for Business and Economic Research recently conducted a study to determine how Keeneland impacts Fayette County's economy. Participants at the 2014 Fall Meet, September Yearling Sale, and November Breeding Sale were surveyed to determine direct spending at the events and the wider economic impact. Continue reading


Kentucky Horse Sales Rank #1 in Nation at $178 million (2012) (May 11, 2015) 

In addition to taking inventory of horses and ponies by county, the quinquennial USDA Census of Agriculture also reports sales. While the sheer number of horses and ponies in Kentucky, the Bluegrass Region, and Fayette County was impressive, the number and dollar amount of horse and pony sales is even more remarkable. Horse and pony sales in Kentucky totalted $178.34 million in 2012, ranking #1 in the nation and representing 13% of the total national sales. The Bluegrass Region generated $151 million in horse and pony sales, representing 13% of the national sales. The Bluegrass Region generated $151 million in horse and pony sales, representing 85% of the total state sales dollars and 32% of the horse and ponies sold. Continue reading


Small Business Week in Kentucky (May 6, 2015) 

May 4th through 8th is Small Business Week and with 300,000 small businesses in Kentucky employing almost 750,000 people, Kentucky has proven to be an advantageous and beneficial location for entrepreneurs and innovators. Small businesses enrich our economy and support job growth here in Lexington, and two state programs have been particularly helpful to our local businesses: the SBIR-STTR Matcing Funds Grant Program and the Kentucky Small Business Tax Credit Initiative. Continue reading


1 Horse = 26.7 People (April 29, 2015) 

With the close of Keeneland's spring racing season and the upcoming Kentucky Derby, it seems appropriate to take a look at horses and the horse industry in Kentucky. Every five years, the Department of Agriculture produces a Census of Agriculture that comprehensively details the agricultural activity for the country and each state. A previous post in this blog reported findings from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, but the most recent version is from 2012. The Bluerass Region is home to 27% of Kentucky's horses, with 1 horse every 15.6 people (well above the state average of 1 horse per 30.6 people). Most of the horses are concentrated in Fayette, Bourbon, and Woodford Counties. Continue reading


Kentucky Receives National Recognition for Economic Development Projects (April 21, 2015) 

Kentucky has been recognized for its economic growth. Site Selection Magazine recently released its annual Governor's Cup Rankings for 2014, and Kentucky placed first nationally in Projects per Capita and sixth in Number of Projects. Both rankings are improvements from previous year-- in 2013, Kentucky placed 4th in projects per capita and 12th in number of projects-- and are proud accomplishments for Kentucky, which has focused on economic development efforst in the past few years. Continue reading

Bluegrass Regional Industries: Jobs and Wages since the Recession (April 14, 2015) 

Although the Bluegrass Region has shown overall improvement from the 2009 recession (see last week's blog), growth in jobs and wages has not been uniform across industries. The majority of employees in Lexington work in five major industries: (1) trade, transportation and utilities, (2) professional and business services, (3) manufacturing, (4) education and health services, (5) leisure and hospitality. Combined, these industries added 27,135 jobs to the Bluegrass Region since July 2009. The main contributor was the professional and business service industry, which added over 13,000 jobs. Continue reading


Bluegrass Region's Recovery from the Recession (April 6, 2015) 

Over the past few years, the Bluegrass Region has shown progress in recovering from the recession, with increases in jobs and weekly wages, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. Since July 2009, the Bluegrass Region has added 36,155 job, an increase of 12.7%. Most job growth has concentrated in Fayette County, which added 19,064 jobs. However, this represents only a 12% increase from the number of jobs in 2009. Madison County and Scott County both grew by almost 30% and together added 13,116 jobs.  Continue reading