Kentucky tops south central region in economic development projects per capita

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Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 10:46 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - Site Selection magazine ranked Kentucky at the top of the South Central region in economic development project announcements per capita in 2021. The Commonwealth is ranked third in the nation.

A part of that success in Somerset, where Mayor Alan Keck is guiding his hometown through Kentucky renaissance.

Somerset is ranked a top-100 micropolitan city thanks to its three qualifying business projects in 2021.

”Our motto is ‘making business about people’ and I think that’s incredibly important for folks to understand,” said Mayor Keck. “Companies don’t choose locations, people do.”

Those are businesses like AppHarvest, Team Modern and Horse Soldier Bourbon.

”We’re [Horse Soldier Bourbon] coming to your hometown,” said Mayor Keck. “We’re going to spend a couple hundred million dollars because we believe in you, and your people and we love your community. You know, that was an a-ha moment.”

Governor Andy Beshear celebrated the ranking during his Thursday Team Kentucky briefing at the Capitol highlighting the Somerset-sized, and smaller, Kentucky communities that contributed the Commonwealth’s success.

”56 percent of our announcements in 2021 were located in rural counties,” Gov. Beshear said.

He committed to continuing in that vision.

”Being on the cusp of a new era of prosperity, it has to reach every part of Kentucky,” he explained.

Mayor Keck hopes Somerset’s recent success spreads across the region.

”I think projects like this allow us, allow our young people, to say, ‘you know what, what else is possible?’ What else can do we in Eastern Kentucky?”

However, he knows it is not easy, and that it starts with a first step.

”Gone need to be the days where we apologize for what we’re not, and sell [what we are] with ambition and with pride,” he said.

For a project to qualify in these rankings there needs to be A $1 million investment, 20 or more new jobs created or 20,000 square feet of space added to a facility.

Despite rural counties attracting 147 of the 264 private-sector projects in 2021, urban counties claimed 68 percent of the jobs those projects created.

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