MSA: Lexington-Fayette, KY
Best places ranking: #6 among midsize metro areas
Lexington puts a unique spin on 4-H: Horses, health care, high-tech and higher education make up its diversified economy.
Known as the Thoroughbred Capital of the World, Lexington is home to horse farms that handle more than $750 million in horse sales annually. The region is expected to reap another $150 million in economic activity when hundreds of thousands of visitors come to town for the 2010 World Equestrian Games in September 2010. The city's revitalization efforts have reached warp speed in preparation for the event: New music venues and restaurants are sprouting, along with fresh parks and biking and walking trails.
Even in the absence of major events, Lexington knows how to draw a crowd. Residents throughout the eastern third of Kentucky travel miles to reach its retail stores and three major hospitals, all of which have begun major expansion projects.
The University of Kentucky, Transylvania University and another dozen colleges, universities and technical colleges educate workers for Lexington's growing tech sector, which includes strong Lexmark, IBM and Hewlett-Packard presences.
Local businesspeople say the municipal government is undergoing a vast restructuring to eliminate redundancies and improve communication, which promises an even more welcoming environment for business owners. -Maya Payne Smart
Resources for getting started in Lexington, KY
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Lexington Business Statistics
"Lexington's not dependent on any one industry. It really has a lot of services-oriented industries. " -Marcus Simpson