Summary Background

The regional and county data presented highlights the demographic and economic statistics of the region. 


The regional and county snapshots displayed below highlight the demographic and economic statistics of the region. As the data shows, the largest industry sectors are Health Care and Social Assistance, Manufacturing, Retail Trade, and Accommodations and Food Services. The region has high concentrations of employment compared to the national average in Transportation and Warehousing, Finance and Insurance, and Manufacturing industries. The average worker in the region earned annual wages of $52,905 as of the second quarter in 2019. The unemployment rate was 4.3% as of July 2019, which was higher than the national rate of 3.7%.  Over the next 5 years, employment in the KIPDA region is expected to expand by 23,279 jobs. The fastest growing sectors are expected to be Health Care and Social Assistance (+6,549 jobs), Transportation and Warehousing (+2,643 jobs), and Finance and Insurance (+2,593 jobs). To support the growth in these industries and to continue to attract new businesses; local governments need to coordinate on how to provide basic public services such as infrastructure, affordable housing, high-speed internet, and healthcare needs.

By the year 2030, the population in the region is projected to grow by 11%, adding an additional 117,570 people to the area and bringing the total population of the KIPDA region to 1,116,753.  A growing demographic is those aged 60 years and older and will comprise 25% of the population by 2030. This falls in line with the national trend and highlights the need for local governments, non-profits, and public and private entities to strategically plan for the housing, mobility, and healthcare needs of an aging population.

Photo by Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.

Population Projections for KIPDA Region, 2020-2040


The KIPDA region’s geographical location provides the best of urban and rural landscapes and offers outdoor recreation, natural green spaces, and pristine farmland. The region is home to the city of Louisville; the largest city in the state of Kentucky. Louisville’s amenity rich downtown is nestled along the Ohio River. Historically, The Falls of the Ohio provided the only navigational barrier on the river and made Louisville a stopping place for river traffic, consequently establishing the city as an epicenter of commerce, trade, and industrial development. As downtown changed with the evolving economy the waterfront fell into neglect. The successful redevelopment and investment in waterfront real estate has spurred residential and commercial development in downtown including recreation and event destinations like Waterfront Park, Louisville Slugger Field, and the KFC Yum! Center. 

The region’s commitment to conserving the natural landscape and making it accessible to all has resulted in an impressive parks system, including 13 Olmsted Parks. Thousands of acres of open and forested land, hundreds of miles of natural and paved trail, and multiple waterways provide residents and tourists healthy activities and access to nature. Destinations include Jefferson Memorial Forest, The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork, Taylorsville Lake State Park, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, and the Louisville Loop which is a 100-mile trail system that will encircle the city and link existing parks and neighborhoods. The rural counties in the area have committed to preserving their cultural heritage and livelihood by continuing to work agricultural lands. In total there are 582,198 acres of prime farmland in the region. Growth threatens to encroach upon these lands therefore public policies and planning efforts need to continue to support economic growth while protecting natural and agricultural land uses.

Agriculture plays a vital role in the economy of the region, contributing millions of dollars from the production of crops and livestock. While direct employment in the sector is small, secondary linkages produce numerous jobs in the region. As part of a statewide initiative to capitalize upon the various agricultural linkages and opportunities for economic growth the Kentucky Agricultural Development Information Systems (KADIS) was established. KADIS is a partnership between the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy, the US Economic Development Administration and the Kentucky Area Development Districts in an effort to link together all organizations, institutions, agencies, and individuals seeking to promote and develop the agricultural sector of the Kentucky economy.  This web-based GIS driven system will create an emphasis on linkages and integration towards future planning and projects that affect the agriculture economy. It is anticipated that the information will become a collaborative dataset available to a wide range of users to enhance development of locally produced and sold agricultural and related products. (1)  

Photo by KIPDA

Trimble County Farm


The region's natural environment and economic capabilities are thriving and robust, but it is its cultural uniqueness and originality that truly sets the region apart. Because of its location, the area celebrates both Midwestern and southern cultural traditions. With a rich history in agriculture, horse farms and river travel, the region has many cultural assets to offer. 
The Kentucky Derby horse race has been held annually in Louisville, KY since 1875. The event is nationally recognized and brings guests from all around the world. The most recent economic study commissioned shows the Kentucky Derby has around a $400 million economic impact on the region. There is a parade and several festivals that take place in April leading up to the Kentucky Derby that also help fuel the regional economy. The largest of these is the massive firework display, "Thunder Over Louisville," which brought in close to $90 million in 2016.

The Bourbon industry is expanding in the region and remains a cultural product that the area continues to capitalize upon. The region is home to 34.7%  of the state of Kentucky's distillery locations and is currently expanding operations into counties within the area that have yet to land a distilling operation. A strong agricultural heritage and renowned culinary schools in the region have helped to secure a local food culture that thrives in the many diverse restaurants the area has to offer. Every county within the region offers farmer's markets or roadside fruit and vegetable stands. Locally grown and distributed food is sought after in the region and several government and non-profit initiatives are working to help get fresh food to younger and at risk populations who need access to it the most.

Festivals and cultural celebrations abound within the region throughout the year. Music, arts and entertainment are all seen as integral components of the regional culture and all get their specific festival to showcase their impact on the region's identity. The two largest of these festivals are probably the Forecastle Music, Art and Environmental Activism Festival and the St. James Court Art Show. These cultural traditions bring the creative class, entrepreneurs and artists of the region together and allow visitors to see the artistic community that the area embraces. The region boasts a thriving family culture as well, with a "cultural pass" available for children ages 0-21 to enjoy free access to many of the region's arts and cultural institutions. Museums showcasing art, science, technology, sports, craft and design are all offered in the region, as well as exceptional programs in ballet, orchestra and theatre. The outdoor spaces and park systems have been so well planned and protected in the region that they have become a part of the cultural matrix of the area and many residents claim them as one of their strongest assets. 

Photo provided by Festival of Faiths

The Kentucky Center for Performing Arts


To continue to remain a viable and growing economy, the region must continue to be a place that creative and entrepreneurial people, and their businesses, want to be a part of. This will be accomplished by preserving the environment and cultural attributes that help to give the region its sense of place and identity. Supporting sustainable infrastructure that is critical to helping economic impact projects succeed will also need to be a top priority.

The KIPDA region offers a welcoming business climate for companies and entrepreneurs to develop their potential and to succeed. Louisville and the surrounding region possess the natural advantage of being centrally located at the epicenter of the United States' population. Nearly 2/3 of the US population can be reached within a day's drive and the KIPDA region also contributes to the vitality of the "Golden Triangle," an economic region containing more than half of the total population in the state, between Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati.

The logistical advantage of having the UPS Worldport operating out of Louisville helps to promote business development opportunities and allows companies to compete on a more global scale. A low cost of living, affordable energy rates and some of the cheapest business costs in the nation all weigh in as big factors to  entice companies who want to save costs and invest more resources into their operations. 

Connectivity in the region has recently been enhanced with the completion of the Ohio River Bridges project. The highway system in the region provides one-day access to well over 60 percent of the major domestic markets via Interstates I-64, I-65 and I-71. A well maintained secondary road network also adds convenient ingress and egress to the major interstate highways as well. River travel and railways have historically played a large part in the area's manufacturing presence and are still widely used today. There are two public inland ports and 48 private terminals along the Ohio River which provide a competitive advantage in handling bulk products on the U.S. inland waterway system to the Gulf of Mexico. The region is served by three class I railroads: Canadian Pacific (CP), CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS). Both CSX and NS railroads provide the region with direct rail service to all markets east of the Mississippi River as well as connecting service to the West Coast. 

As the region continues to grow, a multi-jurisdictional approach must be had to develop a balanced system of infrastructure, economic development and community planning. Leaders must respect and retain current businesses in order to achieve a climate that will entice new economic endeavors while also supporting the environmental resiliency and cultural vitality of the region.

Photo provided by UPS Louisville Hub

United Postal Service Hub in Louisville, Kentucky


Just as the economy is evolving so are the needs of businesses and industries in the KIPDA region. The fastest growing industries and identified target sectors will increase the demand for workers with diverse skillsets and education levels. The labor force will need to have strong skillsets in advanced manufacturing processes, biotechnology, healthcare and medical research, innovative technologies, alternative energy, logistics, agricultural processing, and administrative and technical services. Not all of these fields require advanced degrees but do require an advanced skillset that can be achieved through two-year degree programs, specific training, certificates, and apprenticeships. 

In fact, the growth rate for employment with a 2-year degree or certificate will outpace those requiring a bachelor’s degree. All employment in the KIPDA region is expected to grow by 0.8% over the next ten years with occupations requiring a postgraduate degree showing an expected growth of 1.5% per year, those requiring a bachelor’s degree show a forecasted growth of 1.1% per year, and occupations typically needing a 2-year degree or certificate are expected to grow 1.1% per year. Strategic planning and partnering with education providers is needed to make basic skills and vocation training more compatible with the needs of the ever-changing market. 

The region’s vast educational opportunities give the workforce a real advantage by offering numerous colleges, universities, and technical schools. Educational attainment rates are higher than the state averages with 23.3% having some college, 8.9% an associate’s degree, 19.3% a bachelor’s degree, and 12.5% having a postgraduate degree. Current workforce development efforts in the region consist of KentuckianaWorks-the region’s Workforce Development Board, the Kentucky Work Ready Communities Initiative, 55,000 Degrees, and KY FAME.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer with students in the Compassion Schools Project

Photo provided by Charter for Compassion

1. For more information about KADIS and the datasets offered go to Additional Agricultural production information for the region can be obtained from the USDA Census of Agriculture found here:

© Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy 2018-2023 by KIPDA