LEXINGTON – Governor Steve Beshear hoisted Kentucky’s historic Governor’s Cup trophy in Lexington Monday at Xerox.
Gov. Beshear joined community officials from the region to celebrate Site Selection magazine naming Kentucky the top state for economic development projects per capita last year. The Governor was presented with a trophy by magazine officials earlier this year.
“When the University of Kentucky Wildcats won the men’s basketball national championship a few years back, Coach Calipari took the trophy on a statewide tour so all the fans could see it and celebrate,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are doing a similar thing today with the Governor’s Cup trophy here in Lexington with city and business leaders because Kentucky won another kind of national championship for economic development.”
Gov. Beshear said it’s an honor to receive the Governor’s Cup, but it’s the meaning behind the award that’s so significant.
“Think about where we were seven years ago when Kentucky’s unemployment rate was 11 percent and business growth was at a near standstill,” Gov. Beshear said. “We’ve come so far. Our statewide unemployment rate is now 5.1 percent, and the Governor’s Cup is further proof of the fruits of our labor. This success would not have been possible without this community’s dedication to supporting businesses, creating jobs and making Kentucky a better place for all of us.”
Fayette County has played a significant role in growing Kentucky’s economy. Since January 2008, the region announced 115 new and expansion projects, which are projected to create 3,702 jobs and nearly $377.5 million in new investment.
Major projects include: J.M. Smucker (2008, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013): 30 new jobs, 279 retained jobs; $80.7 million investment; GE Lighting (2011, 2014): 48 jobs, $18 million investment; Tiffany & Co. (2010; 2013): 200 jobs, $4.75 million investment; Lexmark (2009, 2010, 2012): $38.5 million investment; Webasto Sunroof Systems Inc. (2009, 2012): 65 jobs, $13.5 million investment; Lexington Brewing Co. (2008, 2010, 2013): 63 jobs, $12 million investment; Creative Lodging Solutions (2014): 120 jobs, $5.4 million investment; Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems (2015): 10 jobs, at least $8.5 million investment and Tempur-Sealy (2011): 65 jobs; $18 million investment.
“From our first day in office, creating and attracting new jobs has been our top priority,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “With the Governor’s support, and by creating unique local incentives, we’ve cut our unemployment rate by more than half since 2011, and established a national reputation as a great place to do business. Thank you, Governor Beshear, and thanks to our Council. Even with a 4 percent employment rate we know we have more to do … we work on creating jobs every day. ”
The unemployment rate in Fayette County continues to decline. In May 2014 the county rate was 5.1 percent. The rate for May 2015 is 4 percent.
The Fayette County area is also seeing an increase in tourism. A recent report showed that the economic impact of Kentucky’s tourism industry topped $13 billion in 2014, with growth in every tourism region of the state. Fayette County’s 2014 tourism economic impact was $1.9 billion, a 3.9 percent increase from previous year. The county’s 2014 tourism employment was the equivalent of 14,929 jobs.
“I am proud of Fayette County’s part in this, and of Kentucky,” said Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, of Lexington. “Many people have worked hard to spur job growth and investment in our state, and often in new and creative ways, taking on unknown risk. As the chair of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee, this is especially significant to me. We will continue to look at what is working for Kentucky to keep the investment and job growth coming.”
“Winning the Governor’s Cup this year is further proof that Kentucky is doing all of the right things when it comes to expanding the state’s economy,” said Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, of Lexington, who chairs the House Committee on Economic Development. “I’m certainly proud of the role Lexington has played in this accomplishment. Our community has the best of both worlds: a small-town feel with all of the big-city resources a business could ever need. I’ve been proud to work with Gov. Beshear, my fellow legislators and our local leaders in making all of this possible.”
“Commerce Lexington Inc. is proud to celebrate the Governor’s Cup with our Governor, Mayor, and the many companies who are so committed to our region,” said Bob Quick, CCE, president and CEO, Commerce Lexington Inc. “We work daily with companies that recognize the economic strengths of Lexington and are continually investing and growing jobs in our community. It is rewarding to see our state’s economic development efforts highlighted on a national level, so companies around the world can discover how Kentucky will help them grow and prosper.”
The Governor’s Cup is just one of the Commonwealth’s recent economic development successes.
Kentucky announced more than 350 new industry location and expansion projects last year, which are projected to create nearly 15,000 jobs and more than $3.7 billion in new investment. That is the most business investment since the state started keeping track nearly 30 years ago.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Coincident Index, which measures wages, unemployment rates and payrolls, indicates Kentucky’s economic activity not only recovered from the Great Recession, but has also reached an all-time high.
Kentucky’s jobless rate is below the national average and is half of what it was during the height of the recession.
Kentucky exports reached an all-time high of more than $27.5 billion last year. It’s the fourth straight year Kentucky has set a state record.
Kentucky has seen much success in attracting high tech businesses through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Matching Funds program. Since its inception in 2006, Kentucky’s SBIR/STTR program has awarded nearly $52 million to support more than 100 companies. These businesses have leveraged an additional $90 million in federal funds. A total of 36 companies have located, or are planning to relocate, their businesses to Kentucky, 25 of which are locating in Lexington.
Site Selection, an Atlanta-based publication, rates states, metropolitans and micropolitans annually for its Governor’s Cup. The rankings are based on the number of projects that involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, create 20 or more jobs or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space. For more on Kentucky’s Governor’s Cup award, visit www.siteselection.com.