Kentucky Tops South Central Region for Economic Development Projects Per Capita in 2020

State continued to attract new jobs, projects despite challenges facing companies worldwide

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 12, 2021) – Though the past year brought no shortage of obstacles for businesses across the globe, private-sector companies continued to announce job-creating projects in the commonwealth as Team Kentucky works to build a stronger economy for the long-term.

As evidence, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million.

“The past year has been one of undeniable challenges and hardship, but 2020 also proved how resilient Kentucky is, and that virtue most certainly applies to our business community,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Even with all the pandemic’s uncertainty, companies announced thousands of quality opportunities for Kentuckians. Building an economy that works for everyone remains a top priority. We made progress last year, and we have already seen encouraging signs that our economy is prepared to take a big leap forward in 2021.”

In addition to Kentucky’s statewide accolades, a number of communities across the state received recognition for their economic growth in 2020.

The Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati region ranked seventh per capita and ninth in total projects for metropolitan areas with populations over 1 million, while Louisville placed eighth in the per capita category. Lexington placed in the top 10 in both the per capita and overall rankings for metros with population between 200,000 and 1 million, and Bowling Green earned a tie for sixth place in total projects for metros with population below 200,000.

Kentucky tied for fifth in total projects for micropolitan areas – cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 – which included seven projects in Richmond and Berea, ranking Madison County in the top 10 nationally.

Site Selection ranked AppHarvest’s project near Richmond as third by square footage on its 2020 U.S. Giants list. Construction of AppHarvest’s second high-tech mega greenhouse, a 2.76 million square-foot facility in Madison County, began in October. 

Last year, Kentucky announced 233 new location and expansion projects, according to data from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Those projects are expected to create nearly 8,000 jobs with the highest average hourly wages in years.

In 2020, rural counties attracted 121 – or more than 52% – of the 233 private-sector projects announced, while 112 went to the 10 most-populated counties; Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton, Boone, Warren, Hardin, Daviess, Campbell, Madison and Bullitt. Urban counties will claim 4,372 of the new jobs announced – about 55% – and rural counties account for 3,567, or nearly 45%.

Of Kentucky’s 233 announcements, Site Selection counts 152 projects toward its rankings. For inclusion in the magazine’s database, qualifying projects must meet at least one of the following criteria: a minimum capital investment of $1 million, 20 or more new jobs created or 20,000 or more square feet of new space.

Site Selection, an Atlanta-based publication, has awarded the Governor’s Cup annually since 1988 to the U.S. state with the most new and expanded corporate facilities as tracked by the Conway Projects Database.

Corporate real estate analysts regard the rankings as an industry scoreboard. The magazine’s circulation reaches 48,000 executives in corporate site selection decision making.

The full rankings can be viewed at

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion at, on Twitter @CEDkygov and LinkedIn.

Read about other key updates, actions and information from Gov. Beshear and his administration at and the Governor’s official social media accounts FacebookTwitter and YouTube.