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2021 Governor’s Cup: Kentucky Again Tops South Central Region

Governor's Cups

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 3, 2022) – The 2021 Governor’s Cup rankings have been announced, with Kentucky once again atop the South Central region for economic development projects per capita, the latest evidence of the commonwealth’s continued economic momentum.

Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2021 also saw Kentucky maintain its Top 3 ranking nationally for qualifying projects per capita for the eighth consecutive year.

“These Governor’s Cup rankings showcase what we already know: Kentucky is witnessing unprecedented economic growth, setting a strong foundation for long-term success,” Gov. Beshear said. “Hundreds of new and expanding companies are selecting Kentucky for their projects and creating jobs throughout the commonwealth. I am proud to see not only recognition for what we have accomplished as a state, but also significant growth in so many of our communities.”

In addition to the commonwealth’s strong placement nationally, several Kentucky communities were recognized for their economic success in 2021.

The Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati region placed second in projects per capita for metropolitan areas with populations over 1 million and seventh in total number of projects in the category, with 125. Meanwhile, Louisville moved into the Top 10 in the per capita category, ranking seventh. The Clarksville, Tennessee, region, which includes Guthrie and other areas of Southern Kentucky, placed in the Top 10 in the per capita category for metros with population between 200,000 and 1 million.

Bowling Green moved up the list to second place in total projects for metros with population below 200,000, with 16, and third in projects per capita. The Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area joined Bowling Green in the per-capita Top 10, with the community’s eight company announcements placing it in a tie for sixth in overall projects.

Kentucky tied for fifth in total projects for micropolitan areas – cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 – including eight announcements in Frankfort, which placed the community in a tie for seventh nationally in the category. Five Bardstown projects put it in the Top 20 as well, with Danville (4), Paducah (4), Glasgow (3), Somerset (3), Madisonville (2) and Mount Sterling (2) also making the list of Top 100 micropolitans.

Ford and SK Innovation’s BlueOvalSK Battery Park project in Hardin County was ranked seventh by Site Selection for job creation on its 2021 U.S. Giants list. Announced in September, BlueOvalSK will create 5,800 full-time jobs, with production of advance lithium-ion batteries to begin in 2025, placing Kentucky at the forefront of the automotive industry’s electrified future.

In 2021, Kentucky had 264 new-location and expansion announcements, according to data from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Those projects include an all-time high $11.2 billion in new investments and a record 18,100-plus jobs. The commitments also include the second-highest average incentivized hourly wage in seven years at $24, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.

Last year, rural counties attracted 147 – or 56% – of the 264 private-sector projects announced, while 117 went to the 10 most-populated counties; Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton, Boone, Warren, Hardin, Daviess, Campbell, Madison and Bullitt. Urban counties will claim 12,368 of the new jobs announced – or 68% – and rural counties account for 5,770, or 32%.

Site Selection counts 199 of Kentucky’s 264 announcements toward its rankings. Qualifying projects must meet at least one of the following criteria for inclusion in the magazine’s database: a minimum capital investment of $1 million, 20 or more new jobs created or 20,000 or more square feet of new space.

Since 1988, Atlanta-based Site Selection has awarded the Governor’s Cup annually to the U.S. state with the most new and expanded corporate facilities as tracked by the Conway Projects Database. The rankings are regarded by corporate real estate analysts as an industry scoreboard. The magazine’s circulation reaches 42,000 executives in corporate site selection decision making.

Kentucky’s placement in the 2021 Governor’s Cup rankings furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.

Gov. Beshear recently announced that on Jan. 28, S&P Global Ratings revised Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive from stable and affirmed its “A-” credit rating. S&P cited a reduced reliance on one-time items to balance the budget and a higher balance in the state’s rainy-day fund as primary factors influencing the change.

Kentucky also saw an all-time, record-setting budget surplus in fiscal year 2021 and entered 2022 with an estimated $1.9 billion more than budgeted.

The full Governor’s Cup rankings are available here.

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, Instagram @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.

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