By Robbie Clark
With one of the country’s most educated populations – 40 percent of those 25 years or older have at least a bachelor’s degree and 17 percent an advanced degree – Lexington and Central Kentucky are attractive for starting or relocating a high-tech company.
But the number of people with degrees is just one of the reasons Lexington has been emerging as a tech town. City, civic and commercial leaders, along with non-profit business incubators focused on attracting and assisting high-tech companies, recognize their importance to the region. A variety of financial and development incentives also support creations of these new, high-paying, sustainable jobs.
In 2013, Lexington became the second city in Kentucky, behind Louisville, to create its own economic development fund. The $1 million Lexington Jobs Fund was set up to attract and retain high-tech jobs via loan for up to $250,000.
One of the largest providers of business assistance to existing or new Central Kentucky companies is Commerce Lexington. It emerged from a three-program merger in 2004 between the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Lexington United and the Lexington Partnership for Workforce Development. With a 1,700-plus-member roster today, Commerce Lexington provides a range of support programs, including several incentive and funding sources geared toward tech companies.
To help put together a success business plan, the Access Loan Program provides business owners feedback from experts within the lending community; it is a collaboration between Commerce Lexington, Lexington banks and other financial institutions.
Market Review of Central Kentucky 2016-17
Commerce Lexington created IN2LEX in 2008 to facilitate growth and exposure of the local creative and technical communities. Using an open-source consortium approach, IN2LEX entrepreneurs and professionals work together to promote Lexington as a career, education and lifestyle destination for members of the creative and technical sector. Other speciality networking groups include Bluegrass Biotech and the gaming-industry-focused RunJumpDev.
Commerce Lexington’s most beneficial service might be its ability to connect expansion or location prospects with a number of local, regional and state incentive programs, such as the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, a wing of the state Cabinet for Economic Development. KEDFA encourages economic development, business expansion and job creation by providing financial support through an array of assistance, loan and tax-credit programs.
One big boon to this connectivity is Commerce Lexington’s proximity to other economic development organizations such as The Bluegrass Alliance and the Lexington office of the Kentucky Innovation Network – both of which are in the same building.
The Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp. established Kentucky Innovation Network, a 12-chapter statewide association, in 2001. Since then it has assisted more than 1,300 companies, helped raise more than $785 million in funding and supported over 6,500 Kentucky jobs. Through a network a business leaders and mentors, the group helps nurture new and existing companies with its programs, including entrepreneurial pitch competitions before groups of potential investors.
Meanwhile, with a regional approach to economic development, the Bluegrass Alliance was created to promote cooperation and coordination between development agencies and utility companies in the region. Including Lexington, the Bluegrass Alliance consists of members from Midway, Nicholasville, Paris, Richmond, Versailles and Winchester, as well as representatives from Columbia Gas, Delta Natural Gas, East Kentucky Power and LG&E-KU.
The Bluegrass Small Business Development Center works with business owners – from startups to more established entities looking to secure resources to grow – in a 13-county region in Central Kentucky. The organization is a part of the larger Kentucky Small Business Development Center.
The Bluegrass Small Business Development Center, Commerce Lexington, the Lexington office of the Kentucky Innovation Network and the city of Lexington also have formed an organization called the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership, a redtape-cutting super-service provider linking clients and entrepreneurs with a team of business specialists.
The state cabinet’s aforementioned KEDFA offers a suite of tax credits, loans and other financial incentive packages. There are corporate income tax credits and wage assessments the Kentucky Business Investment program can provide to relocating or expanding companies that meet at least two criteria: creation of a minimum 10 new jobs with wages of at least $10.88 per hour with employee benefits worth another 15 percent, and capital investment of $100,000 or more.
The Small Business Tax Credit program can provide a nonrefundable tax credit to businesses creating one job and investing $5,000 or more in qualifying equipment or technology.
The cabinet matches Phase 1 and Phase 2 federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer awards received by Kentucky high-tech small businesses. The commonwealth’s best-in-the-nation SBIR-STTR Matching Funds Program is available to out-of-state SBIR-STTR grant recipients that are willing to permanently become Kentucky-based businesses.
On the University of Kentucky campus, the Advanced Science and Technology Commercialization Center is a business incubator for emerging technology-based companies; 26 companies were incubating at ASTeCC in the third quarter of 2015. Another 13 were incubating five miles north at the 735-acre Coldstream Research Campus, which is now home also to several fully private companies.
Another resource is Lexington-based Community Ventures, which provides small and micro business support to a variety of companies, not just those involved with technology. The nonprofit focuses on small business support in all stages, homeownership and many other community programs. Community Ventures offers mentoring and counseling opportunities for small businesses looking to get off the ground. Since it was founded in 1993, the organization now manages more than $120 million in assets through five regional offices.
Kentucky Employer’s Mutual Insurance
250 W. Main St., Suite 900
Lexington, KY 40507
(800) 640-KEMI (5364)
Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI) is the largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Kentucky, providing coverage to more than 23,000 policyholders in all 120 counties of the state. We provide exceptional underwriting, safety education and claims services to our policyholders. This, combined with our competitive pricing, responsible financial management and a focus on innovation makes KEMI the provider of choice for Kentucky businesses. We are proud to have earned and maintained an “Excellent” rating by A.M. Best.
165 Barr St.
Lexington, KY 40507
SIS is a total technology solutions provider serving more than 1,300 customers nationwide. Partnered with leading IT vendors, SIS delivers hardware and software solutions, technical expertise, consulting services and data center solutions. The company’s Managed Solution Center is a state- of-the-art Tier 3 data center facility that provides comprehensive hosting and cloud offerings, including virtualization, business continuity, security, storage management and application support as well as systems monitoring and management.
Founded in 1982, SIS is headquartered in Lexington and has regional offices in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
CROWE HORWATH LLP
9600 Brownsboro Road,
Louisville, KY 40241-1122
Crowe Horwath LLP is one of the largest public accounting, consulting, and technology firms in the United States. Under its core purpose of “Building Value with Values®,” Crowe uses its deep industry expertise to provide audit services to public and private entities while also helping clients reach their goals with tax, advisory, risk, and performance services. With offices coast to coast and 3,000 personnel, Crowe is recognized by many organizations as one of the country’s best places to work. Crowe serves clients worldwide as an independent member of Crowe Horwath International, one of the largest global accounting networks in the world. The network consists of more than 200 independent accounting and advisory services firms in more than 120 countries around the world.
Milestone Realty Consultants
Lexington and Georgetown
Milestone Realty Consultants is Central Kentucky’s largest locally owned and operated real estate company, with offices in Lexington and Georgetown. Milestone has experienced great success by attracting many highly experienced, seasoned real estate professionals who are dedicated to superior customer service. Covering the Central Kentucky area, Milestone Realty Consultants and its exemplary agents adhere to “A Higher Standard” which ensures services to the client above all.
Walden Mortgage Group
Lexington, Louisville, and Knoxville
Walden Mortgage Group is a Kentucky mortgage lender based in Lexington, Kentucky. Whether you’re in Central, Eastern or Western Kentucky; whether you’re looking for an FHA, VA, KHC or conventional loan, Walden Mortgage is the source for local mortgage loan solution. We represent a wide variety of local and national lenders with a complete menu of programs to serve our customer’s needs.
2031 Georgetown Road
Lexington, KY 40511
NetGain Technologies has provided I.T. services to area businesses since 1984. SOC 2 Type II certification and an industry-leading, secure network operations center form the core of the Technology OneSource managed I.T. services package, enabling NetGain Technologies to deliver world-class service while maintaining confidentiality, privacy, processing integrity, availability, and security.
MCM CPAs & Advisors
1000 Vine Center
333 West Vine Street
Lexington, KY 40507
As the largest CPA firm in Kentucky, MCM CPAs & Advisors provides highly specialized tax, audit and advisory services to a broad range of clients and industries. Privately and publicly held businesses, not-for-profits, small businesses and individuals across the region, and throughout the country, receive personalized attention and local access from national-level talent.
MCM combines the technical and industry expertise of larger firms without sacrificing the attention and personal service of a local firm. MCM has offices in Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky, as well as in Jeffersonville, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio.
THE CLUB AT UK’S SPINDLETOP HALL
34l4 lron Works Pike
Lexington, KY 40511
THE HILARY J. BOONE CENTER
500 Rose St.
Lexington, KY 40506
The Hilary J. Boone Center at the University of Kentucky and The Club at UK’s Spindletop Hall serve the University, Lexington, and surrounding communities.
The Boone Center is perfectly situated between the Singletary Center for the Arts, and the new Academic Science Building on Rose Street. With beautiful décor, as well as ample outdoor space that includes a courtyard AND gated terrace, the club hosts corporate functions, weddings, and more. Spindletop Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As such, it provides the fairytale setting for weddings in the classical mansion, as well as an ideal space for business events. With something for everyone, recreational opportunities abound in a perfectly serene environment for members, including swimming, tennis, basketball, Pickleball, croquet, and more, with upscale casual dining poolside and in Roxie’s, the member dining room.
P.O. Box 12128
Lexington, KY 40580
Located off I-75 and minutes from downtown Lexington, Hamburg Place provides retail, residential and professional developments. In March 2016, Cabela’s opened its 73,000-s.f. store joining Costco on the East Side of Hamburg Place on Polo Club Blvd. Freddy’s Steakburgers is under construction in front of Cabelas and WaterStone, a 265-unit Class A Luxury apartment community is also under construction at the corner of Man O’War and Polo Club Blvd. In September, MOD Pizza opened at War Admiral Place in a building they will share with Park Community Bank. In October, we will welcome the new Whitaker Family YMCA at Hamburg Place. Red Wing Shoes is preparing to open a new store in the multi-tenant building alongside Chipotle, Sprint & Starbucks on Plaudit Place.
One original goal at Hamburg Place was to accommodate an array of developments. Hamburg Place has become the premier location for banks, restaurants, educational institutions, physicians, dental offices, pharmacies, home furnishing showcases and other office and retailers. We continue to grow with high-quality developments of all types. l