Kentucky’s speed-to-market is fueling unprecedented economic growth in the Commonwealth

By the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development

Gov. Andy Beshear and local executives and officials of Johnson County at Kentucky’s newest Build-Ready site, which broke ground in March 2022. (Courtesy of the Johnson County Economic Development Office)

As the nation’s economy continues to rebound, companies coast-to-coast are looking to expand their operations and meet the ever-growing demand of consumers. This need for growth and quick turnaround times has brought the speed-to-market factor to the forefront when it comes to business expansion and relocation.

Kentucky’s Advantages for Speed-to-Market

For decision-makers at businesses considering a new location, states capable of getting companies from the project stage to operational quickly and efficiently are in a prime position compared with their competition.

The Commonwealth has taken an aggressive approach to the speed-to-market demand, matching companies’ sense of urgency and expediting project timelines in a way many other states cannot. This advantage has opened the doors to continue strong statewide economic growth through increased investment and job creation.

“Investing in our speed-to-market sector is an extremely critical component of our state’s economy and workforce development. In Kentucky, we have the capability to bring companies to market quickly, which gives the Commonwealth a competitive advantage in the site selection process. The groundwork has been laid, and I am very excited to see the opportunities and growth that comes from our dedication to the speed to market industry.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Aiding this expedited approval process is Kentucky’s unified approach between state and local officials, utility providers and higher-education institutions, which work seamlessly together to quickly resolve needs, including permitting. This approach stands to benefit a host of different industries that thrive in Kentucky, including advanced manufacturing, automotive, distribution and logistics, food and beverage and health care.

Build-Ready Sites Pave Way for Future Development

Looking ahead, the state is paving the way for future speedy development through its Build-Ready Sites program. Gov. Beshear recently included $250 million in his budget proposal for the development of a Site Identification and Development Fund to prepare Build-Ready sites that will help attract world-class companies to Kentucky.

With a Build-Ready site, much of the work – aside from construction – has already been completed. That includes control of the land to be developed, archaeological, environmental and geotechnical studies performed, construction of a building pad, preliminary design work, approved site plan permits and necessary infrastructure in place. On a Build-Ready site, construction can begin immediately.

Build-Ready Tracts in Kentucky

The state recently certified its eighteenth Build-Ready tract, located in Eastern Kentucky’s Johnson County within Hager Hill Industrial Park. The site includes a 50,000-square-foot building pad on 15.1 acres zoned for industrial use and includes access to water, sewer, natural gas, electric and broadband.

To be Build-Ready certified, a site must include a pad ready to accommodate a building of 50,000 square feet with the ability to expand to 100,000 square feet or more – and utilities extending to the site’s edge. Applicants – usually a city, county or economic development group – must have previously filed the necessary permits, as well as preliminary building plans, cost estimates, and schedule projections. Applicants also are asked to provide a rendering of a potential building for the site.

To date, four former Build-Ready-certified sites in Graves, Laurel, Warren, and Washington counties have been selected by companies for new location projects, highlighting the program’s effectiveness at getting companies online in a quick, cost-efficient manner.

The state’s Build-Ready program is evidence of Kentucky’s continued focus on preparing the way for future development. Such initiatives are especially important given the post-pandemic increase in economic activity.

More Business-Friendly Elements

Complementing Kentucky’s speed-to-market advantages are a host of other business-friendly elements, including an ideal geographic location that places the state within a day’s drive of more than two-thirds of the nation’s population and personal income and manufacturing operations. With highly developed logistics and distribution infrastructure and facilities – including four major ground and air-shipping hubs – Kentucky continues to attract businesses that rely on multiple reliable, air, road, waterway and rail shipping options. These factors are a huge reason why the logistics and distribution industry, and others such as manufacturing, automotive, metals and food, beverage and agritech are thriving in the commonwealth.

Equally advantageous for manufacturers is Kentucky’s nationally low industrial electricity rates, which rank among the lowest in the country. Kentucky also ranks 6th in the U.S. for the lowest cost of doing business, according to CNBC 2021.

Kentucky’s commitment to bring companies to market quickly, create high-wage opportunities and improve infrastructure throughout the state are paying dividends, and the state sits in a good position to build a brighter future through these early successes.

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