The Commonwealth of Kentucky has been named 2005’s third most “micropolitan” state in the nation in an award program offered by Site Selection magazine — and Somerset apparently played a role in helping the state win the nomination.

Somerset, Paducah, Corbin, Glasgow, Danville, Richmond, Frankfort, Mount Sterling, and Murray were listed as “micropolitan areas” in the state. Union City, Tenn., was also included as a “micropolitan” Kentucky city because it is near the border of Kentucky.

The results were released recently as part of the magazine’s annual Micropolitan Awards — formerly known as the Top Small Towns Awards.

“Having ten of Kentucky’s small communities finish so well in new and expanding business activity for 2005 is quite an accomplishment,” said Governor Ernie Fletcher.

“It speaks highly of the number of quality small towns we have in this state and their ability to compete in a global marketplace.”

The award program is designed to honor communities of 50,000 people or fewer for their ability to secure new and expanded corporate facility projects. Qualified projects include those that involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, create 50 or more jobs, or involve new floor space of at least 20,000 square feet.

“Somerset is listed ... as having reported four projects that fit our New Plant criteria in 2005, as did Danville and Richmond,” Site Selection managing editor Adam Bruns said.

“The projects were led by the UGN expansion announced in July.”

The magazine’s publisher, Conway Data, has been tracking business expansion activity for more than 40 years. Its yearly analyses are regarded by corporate real estate analysts as “the industry scoreboard.”

“Finishing in the top three states for the number of micropolitans says that the whole state is doing something right, not just a couple of communities,” says Mark Arend, also an editor of Site Selection.

“It says that a significant number of companies want to be in Kentucky and that they are choosing small city locations in addition to the major metros.”

Besides placing in the Top Micropolitan Area Awards, Kentucky also finished 11th in the country in Site Selection magazine’s tally for the annual Governor’s Cup Award, which is awarded to states based on total number of qualified projects in the previous calendar year.

Kentucky has had a strong presence over the years in the publication’s other annual awards as well. Those awards include the annual Competitiveness Award, released each May, which has placed Kentucky in the Top 10 since the award’s debut in 2003, and its annual Business Climate Ranking, released in November, which ranked Kentucky ninth in 2005.

“Kentucky is privileged to have so many communities throughout the state who understand economic development and what it takes to develop an atmosphere conducive to attracting and expanding business,” said Secretary Gene Strong, Cabinet for Economic Development.

“I congratulate all those making the Top 100 and look forward to adding to it next year. ... Last year was a strong year for us with more than 17,000 new jobs created and nearly $1.7 billion invested in the commonwealth. We always look forward to seeing how Kentucky stacks up with other states and are eager to see the results of the Competitiveness Awards and Business Climate Rankings.”

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