While traditional economic development strategies have focused heavily on recruitment and retention, an equally important way to grow the local economy is by supporting entrepreneurs. With the IEDC award winning Bluegrass Business Development Partnership, Lexington is a step ahead of most communities in streamlining the process of business start-up. The Bluegrass Business Development Partnership, or BBDP, allows Lexington to have a one-stop service provider to the entrepreneur. Partners Commerce Lexington Inc., the City of Lexington, and the University of Kentucky have clustered downtown to ensure that the process of starting a business in the Bluegrass is smooth and streamlined.
Starting at the Kentucky Innovation Network (Lexington Office) or the Bluegrass Small Business Development Center, aspiring entrepreneurs can get one-on-one guidance through the process of starting a business as well as finding funding. Commerce Lexington (right next door) can help entrepreneurs gain access to state incentives and assist in finding commercial real estate options (if necessary). Finally, the City of Lexington has representatives tasked specifically to assist local businesses.
Commerce Lexington actively promotes entrepreneurial success. Of special note is the formation and coordination of SPARK, formerly known as the Lexington Venture Club, which celebrates the successes of Lexington's start-ups. SPARK meets six times annually, culminating with a celebration of all of the local companies that received funding during the preceding year.