Category Archives: Ranking

Lexington’s New Education Rankings

Lexington has again ranked among the most educated communities in the country, according to recently released U.S. Census Bureau data.

Compared to other cities in the United States with at least 300,000 people, Lexington ranks #8 for advanced degrees and #13 for bachelors’s degrees or higher. Nearly 44% of Lexingtonians aged 25 or older hold at least a bachelor’s degrees and 19.2% hold an advanced degree.

The Census Bureau estimates that 34% of degree-holders majored in science and engineering and 11% majored in science and engineering related fields, while 20% majored in business, 11% majored in education, and 24% majored in arts, humanities, and other fields.

Lexington’s number and percentage of degree-holders has increased overall in the past few years. Since 2010, the percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 3 percentage points and the percentage with an advanced degree increased by 2.6 percentage points. Although the percentages are small, these numbers represent an additional 11,000 advanced degree holders and 17,800 bachelor’s degrees or higher.

An additional 42,000 people are enrolled in college or graduate school, including 64.4% of residents aged 18 to 24, indicating that Lexington will continue to offer a highly educated workforce for all industries.

Foreign Direct Investment in the Bluegrass Region

Following our recent ranking as #7 Top Small American City of the Future 2017/18 for FDI Strategy by fDi Intelligence (read more here) let’s look at the presence of foreign direct investment in the Bluegrass Region.

According to the Cabinet for Economic Development, there are over 480 foreign-owned facilities in Kentucky employing nearly 106,000 Kentuckians. The eight counties of the Bluegrass Region are home to 21% of the FDI facilities in Kentucky and 23% of the employees – that’s 99 facilities with ownership from 18 different countries providing full time employment to over 23,900 people (as of April 4, 2017).

In Lexington, there are 34 facilities with ownership from 14 countries, employing nearly 6,600 people full time. China is the largest FDI employer with 2,128 jobs (or 33% of Lexington’s FDI employment), followed by Japan with 1,210 jobs (or 18%).

In the Bluegrass Region, Japan is the largest FDI employer, with nearly 16,000 employees, or 67% of the FDI workforce and 60% of the foreign-owned facilities. Not surprisingly, 60% of the Japanese FDI workforce is in Scott County, followed by 14% in Madison County.

Germany is the second largest employer, with nearly 2,500 employees (10% of the FDI workforce), 95% of which work in Fayette, Franklin, and Woodford County.

Half of the foreign-owned facilities are located in Fayette (34%) and Scott County (18%). Around 41% of the FDI workforce is in Scott County alone, with 27% in Fayette County, 11% in Madison County, 8% in Franklin County, and the rest spread throughout Bourbon, Clark, Jessamine, and Woodford County.

The majority of foreign-owned facilities employ less than 100 people (54%) and a just over one third employ less than 50 people (38%) and around one third employ between 100 and 500 people (37%). However, several Japanese-owned facilities are major employers in our region, including around 8,200 employees at three Toyota facilities in Scott County and 1,449 employees at two Hitachi facilities in Madison County.

Check back next week for highlights from the Center for Automotive Research’s report on the economic impact of Toyota in Kentucky. 

Want to learn more about foreign direct investment in the Bluegrass Region? Check out the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) Global Trade and Investment Plan.

Lexington Ranks 7th Best City for Attracting Foreign Investment

The economic development team here at Commerce Lexington is always working to attract companies to the region and to help existing companies grow. In fact, we regularly meet with 160 businesses each year that fall into our strategic targets. International companies are a large part of that effort, and we’re proud to announce that Lexington has ranked #7 Top Small American City of the Future 2017/18 for FDI Strategy by fDi Intelligence!

The fDi Intelligence team collected data for over 420 locations under five categories:

  • Economic Potential – including factors such as population, population growth, GDP, unemployment, patents, outward FDI (a domestic firm expanding operations to a foreign country), inward FDI (a foreign company investing in or purchasing a local company), FDI in research and development, and FDI in advanced manufacturing.
  • Business Friendliness – including factors such as advanced manufacturing companies, hi-tech companies, knowledge-based sector companies, jobs created by inward and outward FDI, and expansion projects.
  • Human Capital and Lifestyle – including factors such as institutions of higher education, literacy, physicians, and life expectancy.
  • Cost Effectiveness – including factors such as average annual salaries for a variety of skill levels, annual rent per office and industrial space, and other costs associated with establishing a business.
  • Connectivity – including factors such as internet speed, airports and international destinations, and proximity of ports.

A sixth strategy, FDI Strategy, was qualitative in nature. Over 70 locations discussed their strategy for promoting FDI. Commerce Lexington submitted an application on behalf of Lexington, highlighting our commitment to establishing and maintaining relationships with companies and investments in our community.

One example is the Lexington-based biotech company Allylix. This company, founded in 2002, develops terpene products and their derivatives for the flavor and fragrance, food ingredient, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and biofuels markets. In 2014, Allylix was acquired by Swiss-based Evolva. Since the acquisition, Commerce Lexington has established strong relationships with the Evolva leadership team and meets with them as part of our existing business retention and expansion program.

Another is Coldstream Laboratories. Over the past decade, Commerce Lexington has maintained a strong relationship with Coldstream Laboratories, a specialty pharmaceutical contract manufacturer that spun out from the University of Kentucky. In January 2015, Coldstream Laboratories was acquired by India-based Piramal Enterprises. As with other mergers and acquisitions, our team met with the new owners as soon as possible to make them aware of how we may assist them. Over the last two years, Commerce Lexington has cultivated that relationship with the company as they have grown. Out team partnered with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development on an expansion project for Piramal. The company announced in February of 2016 that they would invest $10 million and add 40 new jobs to the Lexington operation.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has long been an important part of the economic growth of the region, due to the presence of major corporations such as Lexmark (China), Toyota (Japan), Webasto (Germany), Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems (Japan), and many others.

Kentucky is home to hundreds of international companies with operations around the state, and the Bluegrass Region has particularly benefited from foreign direct investment. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, there are 484 foreign-owned facilities employed nearly 106,000 people in Kentucky (as of April 4, 2017). The eight counties of the Bluegrass are home to 21% of these facilities (that’s 99 facilities) and 23% of the employees (nearly 24,000 people).

Check back next week for more about international companies in Lexington and the Bluegrass Region.

For more Bluegrass Rankings, click here

Economic Dashboard

Introducing Commerce Lexington’s Economic Dashboard! This tool measures aspects of Lexington and the Bluegrass Region that are important to economic development, including our highly educated workforce, business climate, foreign direct investment, and quality of life. (Full-sized version can be found here.)

This is the first year of the Dashboard. Data reflects both Lexington and the Bluegrass Region. Detailed and supplemental information is available.

Lexington Ranks 4th Best City for Attracting Foreign Investment!

Here at Commerce Lexington, we’re always working to attract companies to the region and to help existing companies grow, and international companies are a large part of that effort. We’re proud to say that Lexington has ranked #4 Top 10 Small American Cities of the Future 2015/16 for FDI Strategy by fDi Intelligence!

The fDi Intelligence team gathered data on 421 locations in five categories — Economic Potential, Business Friendliness, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, and Connectivity — and a sixth qualitative category, FDI Strategy, was gathered for 105 locations.

Many international companies have chosen to locate in Lexington and the Bluegrass Area. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, there are 28 facilities with foreign ownership in Fayette County, providing over 4,000 full-time jobs. In the Bluegrass Region, there are 88 facilities with ownership from 17 different countries employing almost 21,000 Kentuckians full time. A previous blog post offers more details on countries that have invested in our community.


The Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institute and JPMorgan Chase, studied foreign direct investment (FDI) in 100 of the country’s largest metro areas over a 10 year period and found that mergers and acquisitions create more jobs than greenfield investments. That is, more FDI jobs are created by buying and revamping existing companies (M&A) than are created by starting new ones. Lexington has benefited from both methods.

Founded in Lexington in 1984, Blue Star Plastics is a plastics fabrication company that employs around 90 people and provides custom thermoplastic injection molding and contract manufacture of plastic assembled parts. The company’s consistent growth required additional investment and was purchased by the family-owned international company Seventh District Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary owned and led by Ahmed Hamza and his son Mohammad Hamza. In 2013, The Lane Report quoted Ahmed Hamza about the decision to acquire Blue Star Plastics: “They have a strong business concept, a long established successful track record, an excellent customer and supplier base, quality products, and a highly professional management team. Lexington, Ky., is an ideal location for our first venture in the United States and one from which we can grow.”

Earlier this year, Piramal Enterprises Limited of India purchased Coldstream Laboratories Inc. in a $30.65 million cash transaction, including $5 million to purchase the building while the remaining funds purchased the company’s shares. Founded in 2007 by the Lexington-based University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Coldstream is a specialty pharmaceutical contract manufacturer of sterile liquid and lyophilized parenterals and injectables that employs around 120 people. Coldstream’s revenues had been increasing from $9 million in 2012 to $14 million in 2014. This success attracted Piramal, said Mr. Vivek Sharma, CEO of PEL’s Pharma Solutions: “Coldstream is a very high quality operation and has been able to build significant customer relationships and track record for sterile products. We see this as a great platform for growth in our Pharma Solutions business.” Piramal hopes to enhance its products by acquiring Coldstream’s expertise in developing and manufacturing sterile injectables.

Some foreign-owned companies began in Lexington. Funai Electric Company, Ltd., of Japan acquired Lexmark’s inkjet technology assets, over 1,000 patents, and a manufacturing facility in 2013 and announced plans to open Funai Lexington Technology Corporation in 2014 to support its research and development. Kiyoski Chinzei, Office & General Manager of the Office Solution Business Unit of Funai Electric Co. said, “This new company will continue research and development in the inkjet and microfluidic technologies… we are pleased with the technology resources available in Lexington and the support of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” As discussed, Funai will create 50 new jobs and invest over $4.2 million.

Other notable Lexington companies that have been partially or fully acquired by foreign owned investors include:

  • Florida Tile was founded in Florida in 1954, but was purchased by the Italian company Panariagroup in 2006 and moved its headquarters to Lexington in 2010.
  • Aventics GmbH is an industrial pneumatic systems manufacturer (i.e., a gas or pressurized air alternative to electric motors, such as in air brakes on vehicles) that was recently purchased by the German company Triton Partners. Aventics was originally Bosch’s pneumatics division formerly named Rexroth Pneumatics.
  • Young An Hat Company of Korea acquired CLARK Material Handling Company in 2003 and opened its new North American headquarters in Lexington in 2005. CLARK manufactures forklift trucks.
  • Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company was established in Lexington in 1986 as a joint venture between the American company FMC Corporation and the Japanese company Sumitomo, and is now wholly owned by Sumitomo Heavy Industries and remains headquartered in Lexington.

Not only is Lexington attracting foreign investors, but the jobs created by their investments are quality, high-paying positions that will provide Kentuckians with economic security and stability for their families. Funai’s 50 new jobs, for example, will pay an average wage of $100,000 per year.

Of course, jobs are also created when established companies expand. Some recent expansions by major international companies in the Bluegrass include:

  • In 2013, Japanese-owned Toyota  Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) announced a $530 million expansion creating 750 new jobs to support production of the Lexus ES 350 at Toyota’s Georgetown plant beginning in 2015.
  • Last year, Surelock McGill opened its first American sales and distribution office in Lexington.
  • Funai Electric Company opened a new research and development center in Lexington last year, with an investment of over $4.2 million that created 50 new jobs.
  • Earlier this year, Sumitomo Electric Wiring System broke ground on a new 440,000 square foot facility in Lexington, representing an investment of almost $8.5 million that will create up to 10 new jobs and retain more than two dozen current employees.

Lexington’s skilled and innovative workforce provides the human capital these companies need to thrive and continue to grow in the Bluegrass. 40.1% of Lexingtonians have at least a bachelor’s degree, and 17.3% have an advanced degree.  Lexington consistently earns praise for its educated citizens. Last year, Lexington was ranked the 23rd Most Educated City by Wallet Hub and the World’s 23rd Smartest City by National Geographic.

Lexington is also an attractive place for businesses, both foreign and domestic, because of our high quality of life. This year alone, Lexington was ranked the 8th Best Large City to Live In by Wallet Hub, 6th Most Inspiring City for Young Artists by World Wide Learn, and 27th Most Literate City by Central Connecticut State University. These qualitative aspects of everyday life matter to a community’s ability to attract and retain businesses, along with Lexington’s other attributes, and Sumitomo’s and Toyota’s continued commitment to the region is proof that Lexington is a great place to do business.