Good News, Lexington!
With everything going on in our community, county, and world, it’s easy to lose sight of the growth and prosperity we’re currently experiencing in Lexington. Over the past year, we’ve added jobs, improved the economy, and rebounded from pandemic losses in a resounding way. Local government initiatives continue to improve the lives of all citizens, and by maintaining the boundaries of the USB, Lexington is learning to grow while still protecting traditionally excluded neighborhoods and our finite, prime soils, and land.
Here’s a quick rundown of the good news in Lexington-Fayette County in 2022 compared to the national average:
The economic condition in the community is solid as growth continues, along with the expansion of public transportation, warehousing, and distribution. With two world-class universities in the heart of the city, 41% of the population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, and a thriving and sustainable manufacturing sector, the city is becoming a regional leader in the creation of a new workforce. National media accolades are abundant:
- A Top 10 Best Big City to Live In
- #3 Best City to Raise a Family
- #3 City with High Paying Jobs and Low Cost of Living (2018)
“The Horse Capital of the World” continues to be a sustainable attraction to thousands of tourists annually. Lexington’s urban service boundary, implemented in 1958 as the first USB in the country, enabled the industry to grow without having to compete against real estate developments that would have consumed this irreplicable farmland—today, over 400 horse farms encircle Lexington. The preservation of this industry has brought immeasurable income to the Fayette and Lexington area; more money is exchanged for horses here than anywhere else in the world. Lexington is home to
- The United States Equestrian Federation
- The International Museum of the Horse
- The 1200-acre Kentucky Horse Park
- The oldest horse auction house in North America, Fasig-Tipton
- Breeder’s Cup
- The largest thoroughbred auction house in the world, Keeneland
The Kentucky horse industry (the state’s number two agricultural “cash crop”) creates over 80,000 jobs—much of them based in Lexington-Fayette. One out of 12 jobs in Lexington-Fayette County is directly tied to agriculture.
Our farmland anchors a $2 billion tourism industry annually in Lexington-Fayette County. . The COVID pandemic took its toll, but visitors and associated activities are returning and contributing to the elasticity of the local economy. Farm and bourbon tours are the most requested activity, but other beneficiaries of the Lexington urban service boundary participate in the industry. Top draws for tourists to the Lexington area include:
- The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
- Aviation Museum of Kentucky
- Mary Todd Lincoln House
All benefit from the proximity of the unique mix of urban and rural that the boundary has established. Settled in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, visitors experience not only the lush, scenic landscape that the productive Green Belt creates, but they get to immerse themselves in that exclusive and distinctive landscape What results is a prime destination for tourists who want to experience the unique character of our community.
Kentucky recently posted the lowest unemployment rate in the state’s history, and workers in Lexington are experiencing this first-hand. The city is currently seeing a historically low unemployment rate when compared to the national average. Recent statistics found Lexington at a 2.9% unemployment rate, while the national rate was much higher. These numbers translate to plenty of high-wage jobs available to new city residents, or current residents looking to raise their income, or find more flexible employment that fits with their lifestyle. Lexington is rated as one of the top metropolitan areas to live in when considering low unemployment, change in total employment over the last year, income growth, annual housing costs, and other factors.
New Manufacturing and New Jobs
Manufacturing facilities as varied as Toyota, and Hitachi have nestled themselves into the region, but Lexington is seeing an increase in new manufacturing facilities, and expansion of current concerns, all of which lead to more employment opportunities in the county.
- Funai Lexington Technology Corp is planning a $3.8 million expansion in the county. The investment will help fund equipment related to the research and development of heater chips, assist with upgrades of current semiconductor processing equipment and increase the overall production volume.
- Canadaian Vector Corrosion Technologies Inc., a provider of corrosion mitigation products and services is investing over a million dollars in a 15,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Lexington that will provide 20 full-time jobs.
Local Government Initiatives
Exciting local initiatives are providing the opportunity for Lexington-Fayette to keep growing smarter, not only bigger. Commerce Lexington’s Business and Education Network is working with the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG), Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC), CHI Saint Joseph Health, Baptist Health, and UK Healthcare to accommodate “Accelerate Lexington,” an innovative Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program that will help address the increased need for healthcare professionals.
Kentucky’s Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman presented almost $3 million of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government for the expansion of shared-use paths for pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchair users. Safer, more accessible walking and biking paths help create a more desirable, livable community within the existing infrastructure of our community. Initiatives like these help to propel Lexington into the select group of one of the best places to live in the South.
Lexington is growing, and we have an opportunity to channel that growth toward sustainable options. New residents are attracted to smartly designed cities that are unique and hold cultural significance. With Lexington-Fayette leaders focused on improving our infrastructure, it is easy to see why our municipality is and will continue to be a destination for those seeking intentional communities. Add in a thriving economy with flexible, living wage jobs and varied transportation options, and you can see why we are such a desirable community to live in. The proximity of urban and rural, purposely established by the Lexington urban service boundary, adds to this continuing desirability. Stewardship of our lands is a central core value of our community, and our activities create future stewards of our recently relocated neighbors. The city can continue to grow in ways that are sustainable, scalable, and environmentally responsible.
The question, as always, isn’t if we grow, it’s how–and right now, we’re showing how it’s done right.