12 Reasons That Lexington is the Perfect College Town

“The most successful economic development policy is to attract and retain smart people and then get out of their way.” – Edward Glaeser, Harvard economist

Home to fifteen institutions of higher education and boasting one the nation’s most educated workforce’s, Lexington has a proud academic tradition (Transylvania University is the 16th oldest college in the nation). As the University of Kentucky’s enrollment tops 30,000 students for the first time (thanks to a record number of out-of-state students) – we’re excited to report that the Lexington metro has been recognized by the American Institute for Economic Research as one of the top college destinations in America.

University of Kentucky Campus
University of Kentucky Campus. Source: University of Kentucky

In a ranking of small metros (MSAs with 250,000 to 1 million residents), Lexington beat out other well-known destinations like Honolulu and Tallahassee and scored top marks in categories like cost of housing and arts and leisure. Here’s the full list:

12 Reasons that Lexington is the Perfect College Town

Opportunities (we got ‘em)

  1. $6,580 – academic research and development expenditure per student in the MSA
  1. 35.2% – percent of people 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in the MSA
  1. $27,365 – median earnings for metro workers (higher than Ann Arbor, MI and Provo, UT)

 Student Life (it’s good)

  1. 113 – number of students per 1,000 metro residents
  1. $717 – fair market rent of a 2-bedroom apartment
  1. 4.4% – percentage of workers that bike, walk, or take public transportation

Culture (it’s diverse)

  1. 43 – number of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments per 100,000 people
  1. 3.3% – percentage of students that are foreign born
  1. 6.5% – percentage of workers that work in innovative fields like engineering, architecture, design, and the like

Economic Health (consistently robust)

10. 6.7% – average metro unemployment rate in 2013

11. 1.01 – annual change in share of population with college degrees

12. – 22.3% – net change in businesses per 100,000 residents from 2008-2011 (that’s actually a decrease, which follows national trends. Nashville, for example, experienced a 29.5% decrease in entrepreneurial activity during the same period).

Boom Town is straight-up crushing it, but don’t take our word for it – you can get it straight from Henry Clay himself:

CLX Economic Development Team

 Commerce Lexington Update

  • SRC of Lexington, a remanufacturer of engines, drive engine components and hydraulics for industrial equipment, announced plans to create up to 50 new jobs and invest nearly $1.9 million into expansion.
  • Kiplinger named Lexington the 7th most affordable big city in America.
  • Kentucky ranks 8th in the U.S. for best business climate, according to Site Selection magazine’s yearly Top US Business Climate rankings.
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week is November 17th through the 23rd.  Click here to learn more and to view the schedule of events.


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