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Lexington, KY
MSA: Lexington-Fayette, KY
Best places ranking: #6 among midsize metro areas
Population: 453,424
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

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Lexington, KY


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Community Trust Bancorp
  • Paducah Bank Shares
  • Porter Bancorp
  • U.S. Bank
  • South Central Banchares Of Ken
See all local lenders

Lexington Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
11,248 11,214
Small business growth rate
4.1% 5.0%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
34 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
37.3% 26.9%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
468.7 478.8
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
3,247.6 3,562.2
Population growth
7.4% 5.73%
Per-capita income
$37,253 $35,547
Per-capita income growth
21.8% 24.0%
GDP (in millions)
$21,238 $18,559
GDP growth
26% 32%
Average hourly wage
$18.51 $18.69
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
516 286
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$719 $848
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.8% 1.9%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.7% 1.8%
HPI deviation from long-term average
6% 0.0%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"Lexington's not dependent on any one industry. It really has a lot of services-oriented industries. " -Marcus Simpson
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Lexington?
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The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

ireportTell us why: Low taxes? Talented workers? An active small business community? Send us your photos and videos, and you could be featured in our upcoming coverage of reader-picked Best Places to Launch. More
This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's