Category Archives: Visitors Industry

Lexington’s Health Care Industry

The 2017 Kentucky Annual Economic Report released by the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) identified health care as a growing industry in Kentucky, accounting for more jobs than manufacturing, and anticipates that this trend will continue.

Health care and social assistance jobs are in high demand in Kentucky with over 7,500 advertised jobs, according to the Kentucky Career Center (on March 8, 2017). The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are over 16,700 establishments within the health care and social assistance industry in Kentucky, employing over 240,000 people.

Fayette County is a major health care hub in Kentucky, with the second-most health care and social assistance establishments and employees in the state and earn the fourth-highest wages. In fact, over 23,000 people were employed in the health care and social assistance industry in Fayette County in the third quarter of 2016 (most recent data available), earning an average weekly wage of $1,041, much higher than the state average of $952.

Health care is part of the life sciences industry, one of Commerce Lexington’s strategic targets for the region. In the Bluegrass Region and Kentucky, Lexington is a hub for the life sciences industry. Lexington has leveraged its culture of innovation and commercialization, a superior business climate, top ranked research programs at the University of Kentucky, and an expansive network of medical centers to provide an environment where any market niche of the life sciences industry can grow. The life sciences industry has two components: direct patient care and biotechnology.

Direct patient care includes hospitals, nursing facilities, and medical centers, and is a prominent market in Lexington with a strong base of health care facilities, employers, and resources. There are several major medical centers including Baptist Health, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, St. Joseph Hospital (part of KentuckyOne Health), and the UK Medical Center. In fact, the UK Healthcare System is an extensive network that includes four hospitals, over 80 specialized clinics, more than 140 outreach programs, and six health professional colleges. In 2015, the UK HealthCare network served over 581,000 outpatient visitors and performed 31,200 surgeries. The Lexington Clinic, a multi-specialty medical group with 25 locations throughout the Bluegrass Region, employs 200 physicians and provides services to more than 2,000 patients every day and 600,000 patients every year.

Direct patient care is a major employment industry for Lexington, with a high-quality stock of human capital for medical professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 19,000 people were employed as health care practitioners and technicians in 2015, including more than 5,100 physicians, 1,100 dentists, 184 optometrists, 560 specialty therapists, and 7,200 registered nurses. Biotechnology includes institutions involved with animal and plant science research and designing and manufacturing medical/veterinary products. Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and Lexington is committed to fueling its growth in the Bluegrass. In fact, over 50 biotech companies have chosen to locate in Lexington. Health care and biotechnology are supported by strong ties to academic programs at the University of Kentucky. UK’s College of Pharmacy is one of the nation’s top pharmacy programs, ranked the 6th Best Pharmacy Programs by U.S. News in 2016. The cutting-edge medical research on disease and drug development performed by the graduate students and faculty has benefited the area and the nation. Graduates enrich the workforce and faculty members have created 25 startup companies since 1989. Furthermore, UK allocates nearly $328 million to research and development annually and the overwhelming majority of UK’s R&D expenditures (over 70%) are devoted to the field of life sciences.

Seven industries are part of the life sciences: pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing; medical equipment and supplies manufacturing; scientific research and development services; veterinary services; ambulatory health care services; hospitals; and nursing and residential care facilities. In 2015, around 21,000 people were employed in the life sciences, with an average annual salary of $55,800, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Check back next week to learn more about Lexington’s life sciences industry!

Click here to read more about the 2017 Kentucky Annual Economic Report.

Click here to read more about health care, life sciences, and biotech in Lexington.

Smart Cookies!

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released 2015 data and Lexington has ranked among the most educated communities in the United States!

41.6% of Lexingtonians over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, ranking our city #11 in the nation among cities with at least 300,000 people. Equally impressive, 18.9% have an advanced degree, ranking Lexington #9 in the nation.


Furthermore, 60.1% of Lexington residents ages 18 through 24 are currently enrolled in college or graduate school (ranking Lexington #10 among large cities), ensuring that Lexington will continue to have talented, highly educated people for all industries.


The ten institutions of higher education in the Bluegrass Region offer programs that enrich our workforce and help our industries thrive. Let’s look at a few programs.

The University of Kentucky offers dozens of programs for every aspect of the economy:

  • Students and faculty at the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center are engaged in research for the horse industry, and the Ag Equine Programs offer services to clients related to horses and farms.
  • NASA Kentucky, located on UK’s campus, operates the Space Grant Consortium and EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) programs, which support students, research, and workforce development.
  • Eastern Kentucky University’s Aviation program offers the nation’s first FAA-approved 1,000-hour power aviation degree program, preparing students for an array of aerospace and aviation careers.
  • The National Air & Space Institute/Air & Space Academy operates in high schools throughout Kentucky, including several in the Bluegrass Region, introducing students to aerospace concepts and skills through a STEM curriculum.
  • Lexington’s growing hospitality services and tourism industry is supported by programs at the University of Kentucky and Sullivan University, including new classes on the bourbon industry offered at UK.
  • The University of Kentucky Department of Engineering prepares students for a variety of industries. For example, the Biosystems Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering programs that prepare undergraduate and graduate students for positions in advanced manufacturing. In addition, the University of Kentucky also offers a Graduate Certification in Lean Systems and is home to the Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing (ISM), a multidisciplinary organization that brings together faculty members, graduate students, university partners, industry partners, and research organizations such as the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation (KSEF), the National Science Federation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the US Air Force Research Laboratory, the US Army, and the US Department of Education.
  • Venture Studio helps members of the UK community, including undergraduates, graduate students, post docs, faculty, and staff, turn business ideas into reality by providing real-world startup experience and access to resource such as angel investors and pitch competitions
  • Many companies are created from research conducted at the University of Kentucky, such as the biotech company AntiOp Inc., which creates an anti-overdose nasal spray to help save lives from heroin overdoses, invented by Daniel Wermeling, a UK College of Pharmacy professor. In fact, graduates of the College of Pharmacy have created  25 startup companies since 1989, including Wermeling’s AntiOp.

These programs only scratch the surface of the exceptional educational opportunities offered to students here in Lexington and the Bluegrass Region.

Of course, Lexington’s public and private K-12 schools help prepare students to excel in college. The city’s elementary and secondary schools operate several magnet programs to teach students advanced math, technology, applied skills, and foreign languages. In addition, there are several multi-school gifted and talented programs, such as the Spanish Immersion Program, the Elementary and Middle School Accelerated Programs, and the School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA).


Lexington, KY Downtown Development Snapshot 2016

The Lexington Downtown Development Authority recently released the Downtown Snapshot 2016, a publication that examines quality of life and economic vitality trends in Lexington, with an emphasis on downtown development and community growth.

Some findings from the Downtown Snapshot 2016 include:

  • Downtown Lexington hosted over 2.8 million overnight visitors, 74% in town for leisure and 26% for business.
  • Thirteen licensed bourbon distillers are within a 45 minute drive of downtown Lexington.
  • There are 187 restaurants and bars in and around the Central Business District, with 17 new restaurants, bars, and retail stores opening since 2014.
  • Major projects from the past year and a half include the Town Branch Commons linear park, Euclid Avenue and South Limestone commercial corridors, the renovation of the Historic Fayette County Courthouse, and the Gigabit City Initiative.
  • Recent development and investment in downtown total $1.49 billion in 27 projects, including $338 million in completed projects, $957.8 million in projects under construction, and $193.8 million in pre-development projects.
  • The University of Kentucky projects are a significant part of the development and investment in downtown Lexington, and over 30,700 students contribute to the knowledge economy of our city, as do more than 6,400 students at BCTC and 1,000 students at Transylvania University.

Want to learn more about Lexington? Read the full report here!

Jobs in Lexington – Mapped! Part 2

Last year’s blog entry Jobs in Lexington – Mapped! explored Robert Manduca’s Where Are The Jobs? Map, which used data from the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics database to map every job in the United States. At the time, 2010 was the most recent data available but 2014 data has since been published and Mr. Manduca has updated his map.

Each dot represents one job and is color-coded by industry:

  • Red – Manufacturing and Trade
  • Blue – Professional Services
  • Green – Healthcare, Education, and Government
  • Yellow – Retail, Hospitality, and Other Services


Lexington’s workforce is easily spotted on a national scale, indicating the competitiveness of our region.

Taking a closer look at the city, Lexington continues to demonstrate a healthy diverse economy, represented by all four colors and industries citywide:


Manufacturing and trade jobs (red) are concentrated around the north side of the city. Some of the city’s major manufacturers include Lockheed Martin (1,100 employees), Webasto Roof Systems (760 employees), Big Ass Solutions (701 employees), Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co. (700 employees), and Schneider Electric (500 employees), among others.

Manufacturing, particularly advanced manufacturing is a key aspect of the Bluegrass Region’s economy and is a targeted industry for Lexington’s economic development. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, there are over 2,400 manufacturers in Kentucky employing nearly 245,000 Kentuckians full time and producing national brands such as Pop-Tarts, Dixie Cups, Jif Peanut Butter (in Lexington), Post-It Notes, Hot Pockets, Kentucky Ale, Tiffany & Co. jewelry (in Lexington), numerous brands of bourbon, and automobiles such as Toyota Camrys. (Read more about Lexington’s advanced manufacturing here).

Healthcare, education, and government jobs (green) are concentrated in the center of Lexington. The two green blocks near downtown represent the University of Kentucky, which employs 12,500 people and is the largest employer in the Bluegrass Region. Programs and people at UK provide high quality talent and innovation to the workforce in all areas of the economy, strengthening and growing our economy.

Lexington has a strong base of healthcare providers with six major medical centers including Baptist Health Lexington, KentuckyOne Health, and the UK Medical Center. The UK Healthcare System is an extensive network with three hospitals and fifteen clinics. Lexington is a healthcare hub serving people from all over the Bluegrass Region and direct patient care is a major employment industry, with quality human capital for medical professionals.

The healthcare industry in Lexington is supported by strong ties to academic programs at the University of Kentucky. UK has one of the nation’s top pharmacy programs and ranks nationally in the number of R&D expenditures. In addition, Lexington is home to the only research and development business park in the state of Kentucky — UK’s Coldstream Research Campus. Coldstream, a 735-acre office park, was specifically designed for recruiting high-tech and biotech companies, as well as university centers and start-ups. (Read more about Lexington’s life sciences industry here.)

Professional service jobs (blue) have a high concentration in downtown and appear throughout the city. In 2015, Lexington’s business and professional services sector employed around 27,000 people, including legal, architectural, engineering, consulting, and real estate firms, as well as back-office support operations, accounting and payroll services, and processing facilities. The business service industry leader in Lexington is Xerox, which employs around 3,100 people. (Read more about Lexington’s professional and businesses services here.)

Retail and hospitality jobs (yellow) contribute to Lexington’s thriving visitor industries. As the heart of the horse industry, the start of the Bourbon Trail, and the home of the University of Kentucky, Lexington draws visitors for events and conferences organized by VisitLEX at the Lexington Convention Center, which contains Rupp Arena and the Lexington Opera House. In addition, Lexington has attracted visitors through both national and international events, such as the Creative Cities Summit, the Alltech World Equestrian Games, and the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championship. Lexington is a great place for business and leisure, and growing the area’s visitor industries is an important aspect of economic development. (Read more about Lexington’s visitor industries here.)

The four colors on the Jobs Map represent the following NAICS industry codes:

  • Red, Manufacturing and Trade – 11 (Agriculture and Forestry), 21 (Mining), 22 (Utilities), 23 (Construction), 31-33 (Manufacturing), 42 (Wholesale Trade), 48-49 (Transportation and Warehousing)
  • Blue, Professional Services – 51 (Information), 52 (Finance and Insurance), 53 (Real Estate), 54 (Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services), 55 (Management of Companies and Enterprises)
  • Green, Healthcare, Education, and Government – 61 (Educational Services), 62 (Health Care), 81 (Other Services – largely Religious, Grantmaking, Civic, Professional, and Similar Organizations)
  • Yellow, Retail, Hospitality, and Other Services – 44-45 (Retail Trade), 56 (Administrative and Support Services), 71 (Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation – largely Amusement, Gambling, and Recreation), 72 (Accommodation and Food Services)


Lexington Ranks #1 Best Large City for First Time Home Buyers!

Lexington ranked #1 Best Large City for First Time Home Buyers by WalletHub, and ranked #10 Best City Overall for First Time Home Buyers!

This 2016 analysis considered housing affordability, the local real estate market, and quality of life. Variables included the average cost of homeowner’s insurance, average household income compared to the average housing prices, home-energy costs, and the city’s recreational options, weather, and schools systems.

The Cost of Living Index reinforces this ranking, particularly the Housing component which includes home purchase prices, mortgage rates and monthly payments, and apartment rent. Lexington’s 2015 annual average housing score was 76.3, meaning that housing costs in Lexington are just 76.3% of the average cost of living elsewhere in America–$0.76 compared to $1.00. This year, Lexington also ranked #31 Lowest Cost of Living based on home values, property taxes, rent, and other measures.

Lexington certainly has a high quality of life. Lexington is a vibrant cultural hub with live music, art studios and galleries, museums, theaters, and outdoor festivals. Residents and visitors enjoy over 100 retail shops and 170 restaurants and bars in downtown alone, an array of local coffee shops, weekly outdoor music at Thursday Night Live, events at the Lexington Center and Rupp Arena, Keeneland and other equine attractions, craft beer and ice cream at the Distillery District, outdoor theater at the MoonDance Amphitheater, numerous shopping centers, and dozens of other assets.

These quality of life  resources helped Lexington become an attractive place for people of all ages, but Lexington recently ranked #21 Best County for Young Professionals and Millennials by Niche (2016). This ranking considered the percentage of residents aged 25-34, educational attainment, population diversity, crime, unemployment, and access to bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. Furthermore, Lexington ranked #16 Best Large City to Live In by WalletHub and is listed among Forbes’ Best Places to Retire in 2016.