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31st Annual Survey of Corporate Executives Commentary: Survey Factor Rankings Borne Out By Location Decisions in Kentucky

The factors considered most important when making a location decision have been cited by many of the corporate executives who have made the decision to locate or expand facilities in Kentucky.

Q1 2017
Area Development’s Corporate Survey respondents rank highway accessibility and availability of skilled labor as the number-one and number-two site selection factors, respectively. This is borne out by recent location decisions in the state of Kentucky.

Kentucky’s location, logistical advantages, and workforce have long been a major reason for Kentucky’s economic development success. Amazon Prime Air is the latest example of that. In January, Amazon announced a $1.5 billion investment in Hebron in Northern Kentucky to locate its Prime Air hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). The company pointed to a number of factors near the top of the 2016 Corporate Survey as deciding factors for location in Kentucky.

“As we considered places for the long-term home for our air hub operations, Hebron quickly rose to the top of the list with a large, skilled workforce, centralized location with great connectivity to our nearby fulfillment locations, and an excellent quality of living for employees,” said Dave Clark, Amazon senior vice president of World Operations. “We feel strongly that with these qualities as a place to do business, our investments will support Amazon and customers well into the future.”

Amazon joins DHL, which has a global hub in Kentucky, as well as UPS, whose Worldport is the largest fully automated package-handling facility in the world. According to Bob Waitkus, UPS operations manager for Ohio Valley District Ground Operations, Kentucky’s highway infrastructure, including two new Ohio River bridges connecting Kentucky and Indiana, are major advantages. “The bridges opening up here are going to let the area breathe. It’s been a huge win from my perspective.”

Both UPS and DHL have undergone major expansions in the past year. In addition, FedEx has seen its package volume double in the past decade, and recently announced expansion plans in Northern Kentucky, Louisville, and Lexington.

These recent additions and expansions continue to strengthen Kentucky’s profile. Recent legislation to make Kentucky a right-to-work state (another important location factor) has added to the state’s ability to use its location and logistical advantages to attract new and expanded industry.

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