gov cupKentucky’s record-breaking 2014 economic development efforts are gaining national notice. The commonwealth placed first nationally in Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for new and expanded industry activity per capita in 2014.

Site Selection editor Mark Arend came to the state Capitol from Atlanta on March 3 and presented the Governor’s Cup trophy to Gov. Steve Beshear at a happy ceremony.

“Winning the prestigious Governor’s Cup is a true honor,” Beshear said. “Kentucky works extremely hard to build and maintain relationships with our companies, and we go the extra mile to support their plans for growth. The Governor’s Cup speaks to the dedication of everyone in this state who’s working to build Kentucky’s economy, grow jobs and create success for our industries, our communities and all Kentuckians.”

site selection coverIn addition to the Governor’s Cup, Site Selection recognizes top metropolitan and micropolitan areas for their economic development successes. The Top 10 Metro Areas Ranking includes Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (ranked third) and Louisville (ninth) in the top tier category (population over 1 million), and Bowling Green (fourth) in the tier three category (population less than 200,000).

In the commonwealth’s portion of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky metro area in 2014, there was $224 million of investment by expanding or locating companies. Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. reports 23 companies announced projects in the Boone, Campbell and Kenton County region and that 2,087 new direct jobs are projected as a result.

“Northern Kentucky Tri-ED facilitated significant growth in target industries, such as advanced manufacturing, e-commerce/logistics and technology, in 2014,” Tri-ED President and CEO Dan Tobergte said. “Automotive suppliers, advanced manufacturers and other existing industries contributed significantly to Kentucky’s success in 2014.”

Kentucky had 10 communities make the magazine’s Top Micropolitans list. Those communities include: Paducah, Danville, Campbellsville, Frankfort, Glasgow, Mount Sterling, Maysville, Madisonville, London and Fulton/Union City.

The Louisville metro area improved seven spots from the year before and made the largest jump of any metro area in the Top 10 to achieve its ninth ranking among metro areas with populations over 1 million – Louisville secured 31 company expansions, relocation and business development projects, which represented more than 5,000 new jobs and $1 billion in investments during 2014.

“This ranking is further evidence that we have a solid game plan for job creation and it’s producing strong results,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “We still have much work to do, especially in the area of wage growth, but clearly businesses of all kinds are recognizing our strategic advantages and strong quality of life.”

Last year, Kentucky announced more than 350 new location and expansion projects, which are projected to create nearly 15,000 jobs and more than $3.7 billion in new investment. That is the most business investment in Kentucky since the state started recording investment data nearly 30 years ago.

Kentucky is at its lowest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent in seven years – down from 10.7 percent in 2008. Nearly 70 percent of the state’s announced new investment and jobs came from existing Kentucky businesses.

“Though we still have plenty of work to do, this is a very exciting time for Kentucky’s economy,” said Secretary Larry Hayes with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “More and more companies are seeing the value of doing business in the commonwealth, and the ones that are already here are growing. Winning the Governor’s Cup shows that what we’re doing to help businesses succeed is working.”

Site Selection has rated the states annually since 1978. ■