With the New Year upon us now, many of you may be pondering your New Years resolution. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, perhaps this is finally the year that you take the leap from the idea stage and begin building your company. Or, if you’re currently a business owner, perhaps 2016 will be a year of new beginnings and aggressive expansion. Whatever the case this much is certain, succeeding in business takes strategic decision making. One of the primary decisions concerns where you will operate. What location provides the greatest combination of serving your target market, being affordable, possessing great resources, and a healthy business climate?
Young professionals, a lot like lemmings, flock in droves to the Mecca’s of their particular world. San Francisco, Houston, New York, and the like are flooded with people chasing a dream, in today’s equivalent of the Gold Rush. The problem is that these big cities become oversaturated, overcrowded, and expensive. In 2016, rather than following the herd, consider being ahead of the curb. Kentucky is an exciting place to be, at the forefront of breakthroughs in space, medicine, and technology. It is affordable, centrally located, and possesses a wealth of resources for aspiring businesses. Here are the top 16 reasons you should be excited about Kentucky in 2016.
Kentucky has physical advantages over other states. We were built for this!
Kentucky possess a number of natural advantages over other states, chief among them our prime location, transport industry superiority, and affordability.
1. We’re Centrally Located for Business
Kentucky possesses the natural advantage of being located at the epicenter of the US’s population. With a day’s drive from one of its borders, 2/3 of the US population can be reached. A bulk of this is within 6 hours from the “Golden Triangle” region of the state between Louisville, Lexington, and Cincinnati.
2. We have a Unique Logistical Advantage
In the days of river travel, Kentucky had the advantage of port cities on both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Today, Louisville still remains the hub of domestic and international transport, with the UPS Worldport operating out of Louisville and a DHL Express Global Hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport. UPS is the largest fully automated package-handling facility in the world, and can process 416,000 packages per hour. DHL works with state economic development officials to attract German businesses to Kentucky, where 64 German-owned facilities now employ nearly 10,000 people, according to the cabinet.
3. We Have a Low Cost of Living
Kentucky is regularly listed among the then cheapest states in the country for cost of living, recently coming in 6th on CNBC’s list. Zillow lists our average home values as being about 30% below the national average. Louisville has been named one of the top 10 most budget friendly big cities. For a struggling startup, Kentucky provides the cost saving necessary to invest more resources in your company.
4. Business Costs are Low Too
Since everything else is cheaper, businesses costs go down too. Labor costs are less here, where a person can live for below the national average, than in somewhere like the Gulf or the Bay Area. This makes Kentucky a good place for both domestic and international companies.
5. We have Great Energy Rates
Continuing the trend of Kentucky’s affordability, we also have some of the lowest energy rates in the country. Across all sectors Kentucky’s electricity rates are about 20% below the national average, including around 25% for the industrial and commercial sectors.
But the state is also taking steps to make us more desirable.
The state government, in partnership with a network of development organizations and federal programs, is working to make sure that businesses and regular people can succeed here.
6. We’re Making Great Strides in Enhancing Internet Connectivity
Kentucky’s new public-private partnership to bring broadband connectivity to all of its 120 counties won the 2015 Deal of the Year award from The Bond Buyer. This plan is a $232 million project that will make high-speed Internet a statewide reality. This offering is the first of its kind nationwide.
7. We Provide Build-Ready Sites for Construction
Plenty of states have shovel ready build sites, which are properly zoned and ready for construction. Kentucky takes it one step further. A build-ready site already has the pad ready, zoning done, estimates on construction costs and timetables, and even building designs. This means that the state will help you to start construction immediately. Now that’s an advantage.
8. We Help Fund Tech Companies
The state offers a great opportunity for tech oriented companies by matching funds offered through the federal SBIR and STTR programs. To date, the state has awarded in excess of $50 million in matching funds, and over 3 dozen companies have relocated to Kentucky as a result.
9. We have a Healthy Business Climate
In past few years, Kentucky has found itself atop numerous annual rankings for best business climate, coming in 4th on the 2014 State Entrepreneurship Index (SEI) and 3rd on Site Selection’s annual ranking. Particularly, Kentucky has scored well for having a relatively low tax burden for new companies, and for seeing very high growth in new plant facilities.
10. Investment is Waiting for you Here
There are plenty of opportunities statewide to compete and win money in one of several pitch competitions. Winners have the opportunity to pitch in front of the Kentucky Angel Investors Network, an online network that connects accredited investors to entrepreneurs. In addition, the state encourages investment from both inside and outside the state with the Angel Investment Tax Credit, which provides as much as 50% of an investment back in a tax credit. Out of state investors can sell the tax credit to a Kentucky resident. Investment is waiting for you here.
Exciting things are happening here! We’re more than horses and basketball.
Of course, all benefits aside, no one wants to come to a state where things “aren’t happening.” Of course we understand that. That’s why we want you to know that Kentucky is at the center of some of the greatest discoveries in space, medicine, bioenergy, and even good old American hobbies like drinking.
11. We’re Leading Innovative Forays into Space
Were you aware that Kentucky’s number one export industry, ahead of even automotive parts despite possessing the largest Toyota plant in North America, is aerospace products and parts? In fact, Kentucky is at the forefront of space exploration. Morehead State University has seen an explosion of research and development centered around building micro and nano satellites. In addition, Kentucky Space has been instrumental in facilitating an ecosystem of private and public universities, companies, and other organizations with the goal of leading innovative space missions. One project has been Space Tango, one of the nation’s first business accelerators specifically for space enterprises and entrepreneurs. They have successfully launched cubesats to the International Space Station for ongoing research in Microgravity.
12. We’re Solving Medical Problems in Microgravity
Continuing on Kentucky’s success with innovative space research, the Exomedicine Institute is an attempt to achieve breakthroughs in medicine by harnessing the power of microgravity experimentation. As their website ponders, “what if the next big breakthrough in medicine isn’t on Earth?” Microgravity has different effects on living systems, and through a deeper understanding they hope to one day be bioengineering products in space for use as medical treatments on Earth.
13. We Have a Great Food and Drink Industry
The state is known for its bourbon, where over 95% of all bourbon is made. In fact, most would say you can’t make real bourbon outside of the state. However, added to this is a burgeoning craft beer community, and a foodie’s paradise in Louisville with new local bars and restaurants opening daily. The state has been ranked in the top ten for its food and drink as well as Louisville being named a top foodie city numerous times. Added to this, a startup located on Whiskey Row in Louisville is freezing alcohol into ice cubes, so you can chill your drink to a below zero temperature without watering it down. How cool is that?
14. We’re Solving Global Problems Like the Ebola Virus
Kentucky is helping solve global crises and is breaking new grounds in medicine. Seen above is a plant in Owensboro, where they are using tobacco plants to help create the experimental drug ZMapp, used to treat the Ebola virus. Kentucky provides a diverse set of opportunities for young professionals to tackle the problems of our age.
15. Louisville is a top Tech/Digital City
Louisville has been recognized as one of the most accommodating and adaptive cities in the world of technology. They were named a “top digital city” this year by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government for their work on improving the infrastructure of the city’s computer network, as well as increasing access to coding skills through the “Code Louisville” program. This means that the city has taken great effort to provide a tech savvy and connected workforce, as well as increasing efficiency within the city government. In addition, Tech Republic has named Louisville one of their top ten cities “embracing the cloud,” and they are one of a handful of cities in line for Google Fiber, to provide ultra-high speed connectivity.
16. We are Making Breakthroughs in Bioenergy
Bioenergy could be a sustainable and clean solution for our energy needs. Here in Kentucky, farms and businesses with organic waste products are finding new ways to recycle their leftovers to create heat or energy for their facilities. Murray State University has been doing work on a bioburner unit installed at the university equine facility. The bioburner is able to dry and heat various biomass products. So if green energy is your passion, Kentucky is at the forefront there too.
This is a state teeming with opportunities. Don’t be left behind following the crowd. Do business here before everyone else beats you to it!