Frankfort: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

As the home of Kentucky's state government, Frankfort has long been a regional employment center. State government employment and private professional service firms doing business with the state have had a stabilizing effect on the area's economy. Nearly half of the local citizens are employed by state or local government.

Major local manufacturers produce automotive wheels and stamped automotive parts, automotive wire products, as well as air brake components, pipes, and oil valves for the heating industry. Other local industries make tool and die products, pallets and wood furniture, and fabrics. World-famous Kentucky whiskey is also produced locally.

Frankfort serves as a trading center for mid-Kentucky. The Capital Community Economic/Industrial Authority (CCE/IDA) assists existing companies in expanding their local operations and helps recruit new manufacturers to Frankfort. The result has been 1,774 new jobs, $120 million in new investment, and more than $32 million in new payroll in recent years. Through the creation of two industrial parks and several business/office parks, the CCE/IDA claims to be a "one stop shop" for businesses seeking a base of operations; the group has provided such infrastructure as double-loop-fed electricity, high-speed bandwidth telecommunications cable, water, and county maintained roads. They also provide financial assistance through low-rate loans for capital investment.

A comprehensive industrial survey conducted by the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce showed that industrial employers had a very positive perspective on doing business in the Frankfort area. Ninety-four percent indicated that the Frankfort area was "a very good" or "good" place to do business. This indicator of the business climate was better than that for the state as a whole.

Items and goods produced: corn, bourbon whiskey, candy, tobacco, furniture, electronic parts, automotive parts and stampings, plastics, construction products, machinery, textiles, thoroughbred horses.

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Several programs help city areas in their efforts to revitalize and attract new businesses to their downtown.

Local programs

Downtown Frankfort's Facade Grant Program offers a 50-50 owner match reimbursement for revitalization of downtown buildings. Renaissance Kentucky is formed by an alliance of four state agencies and three private entities, and works with communities to plan and locate resources for restoration and revitalization projects. The Main Street Program is based on a four-point approach and addresses organization, promotion, design, and economic restructuring. The program's goal is "to encourage downtown revitalization within the context of historic preservation." The Capital Community Economic/Industrial Development Authority offers assistance to new and existing businesses with site and investment matters. Downtown Frankfort, Inc. offers assistance with retail and office location information in the city's historic downtown.

State programs

The state of Kentucky offers an extensive array of incentives for business start-up and expansion. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development oversees a wide array of programs and services available to businesses including existing businesses, newly locating companies, start-ups, small and minority businesses, and many others. Kentucky has the lowest overall cost of doing business east of the Mississippi River and ranks fourth nationally as the most favorable state for the cost of doing business. Kentucky's variety of incentives include corporate tax credits, loan financing, training grants, and opportunities for foreign trade zone operations. Local Kentucky sales taxes are taboo, and property taxes are among the lowest in the nation. Kentucky prides itself as an industry-friendly state; only property tax on manufacturing equipment is figured at $1.50 per $1,000. Local jurisdictions may offer inventory tax reduction or exemption options.

Development Projects

Frankfort's Grand Theater on St. Clair Street was purchased in January 2005 by a nonprofit group with plans to raise $3.7 million for renovations. Currently used for arts programming, once renovated the theater will be an arts center for the city.

Economic Development Information: Downtown Frankfort, Inc., 100 Capital Ave., Frankfort, KY 40601; telephone (502)227-2261, fax (502)227-2604; email

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Low unemployment rates relative to state and national averages attest to the industriousness and desirability of Franklin County workers, contributing to an overall Kentucky work-force that measures over 5 percent more productive than the national average and 13th among the 50 states in Gross State Product per wage. Additionally, one in every five adults residing in Franklin County has a college degree.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Franklin County labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 18,457

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 811

manufacturing: 3,886

trade, transportation, and utilities: 5,098

information: 291

financial activities: 1,032

professional and business services: 5,643

educational and health services: 649

leisure and hospitality: 399

other services: 466

government: 1,642

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.44

Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004, statewide)

Frankfort: Economy

Largest manufacturing employers Number of employees
Topy Corp. 531
Fruit of the Loom 426
Allied/Bendix Corp. 336
Ohi-America 318
Jim Beam Brands Co. 309
American Wire Products, Inc. 227
Frankfort Habilitation 181

Cost of Living

Within an easy drive of big city amenities in Louisville and Lexington, Frankfort retains a small-town feel with small-town living expenses. Housing in Frankfort is more affordable than in most other parts of the country. The median home price in 2002 was 98,000.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the area.

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

State income tax rate: 2% to 6% (2004)

State sales tax rate: 6% (2005)

Local income tax rate: 1.75% occupational tax

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: .201/$100 assessed value of real estate (2005)

Economic Information: Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce, 100 Capitol Ave., Frankfort, KY 40601; telephone (502)223-8261, fax (502)223-5942