CKY Market Review: Fayette County has it all

From education and employment opportunities to fun things to do, Lexington is really No. 1
The Helix Garage in downtown Lexington, with its steel façade and artistic lighting, was named one of the coolest parking garages in America. (Courtesy of Pohl Rosa Pohl)

Lexington seems like a city on the verge of something really big.

After many years of construction, downtown is whole again with the completion of City Center, a mixed-use development that has been the talk of the town for more than a decade. It has a little bit of everything – a bank, retail shops, several floors of office space and condos, not to mention two hotels and a Jeff Ruby’s steakhouse.

Just down the street, another huge construction project promises to change the landscape of downtown, literally and figuratively. The renovation and expansion of Lexington Convention Center and Rupp Arena will bring more large-scale conferences and events – funneling more tourism dollars into Central Kentucky.

Even without the expansion, tourism is rapidly growing. The active and experienced team at VisitLEX is never satisfied with just OK. The VisitLEX team constantly seeks ways to make Lexington a more desirable place to visit, which also makes it a great place to live. The inaugural Railbird Festival, a two-day celebration of music, horses and bourbon at Keeneland, is just one example of how VisitLEX is actively seeking ways to improve quality of life, thus attracting more companies – and more jobs – to Central Kentucky.

The economic development team at Commerce Lexington is constantly working behind the scenes toward the same goal: create more jobs for Central Kentucky residents. Thanks to Lexington’s logistical advantage, its highly educated workforce, an active entrepreneur community, its capacity for innovation and high quality of life, Commerce Lex is a step ahead of many competing cities. And it’s working. From August 2018 to August 2019, 21 new projects were announced in Fayette County that created 1,141
new jobs – an investment of more than $160 million.


  • IT’S FREE | Sign up for The Lane Report email business newsletter. Receive breaking Kentucky business news and updates daily. Click here to sign up

And being the home of the University of Kentucky only sweetens the pot. UK continually invests – financially and otherwise – in Lexington, bringing beneficial new programs and notoriety to Central Kentucky.

Lexington also is home to some of the top-notch companies in the country, across all sectors of the economy. The unemployment rate is low (4%), the housing market is thriving, and it’s the largest gigabit city in the country. There’s a great mix of urban life and relaxing countryside, excellent schools, a vibrant downtown, a restaurant to match every taste and sports teams to get excited about. And the horses and bourbon sure don’t hurt.

Yes, Lexington may be on the verge of something really big. Or perhaps, the something big may already have been here all along – the efforts by the people who work every day to make Lexington a wonderful place to live and do business.

As Commerce Lexington says, quality of life is notoriously hard to put a number on, but Lexington is consistently recognized as being one of the best in rankings by numerous publications. Check out check out these highlights from 2019:

No. 5 Economic Growth Potential of Mid-Sized Cities, Business Facilities

No. 7 Best Large Real-Estate Market, WalletHub

No. 4 Best City for First-Time Home Buyers, WalletHub

No. 5 Best-Run City in America, WalletHub

Top 25 Best Places to Retire in 2019, Forbes

No. 7 Best Cities for New College Grads, SmartAsset

No. 7 Top 10 Best Cities in America for Eating Out Affordably, Money

No. 29 Best Places to Live in the U.S., U.S. News and World Report

No. 2 State for Clean Energy Job Growth (Kentucky), E2

No. 36 Top 100 Best Places to Live, Livability

• The 50 Best Foodie Towns in America, The Daily Meal

No. 5 2018 Top State for Number of Economic Development Projects (Kentucky), Site Selection magazine

No. 2 2018 Top State for Economic Development Projects Per Capita (Kentucky), Site Selection magazine

No. 2 2018 Top State for Most Top Micropolitan Areas (Kentucky), Site Selection magazine

No. 9 2018 Top Metro for Economic Development Projects, Site Selection magazine

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment

  • I am having difficulty rationalizing these data with the 2018 Milken Institute city rankings based on job creation, salary growth and high-tech adoption. Perhaps Milken has made an error, but their rankings are much more pessimistic for Lexington.

Please wait...

Subscribe to the FASTER LANE business newsletter.

Subscribe and receive breaking Kentucky business news and updates daily.