Kentucky is a state rich with economic development incentives, with subsidies totaling close to $10 billion, and 15 megadeals. Even though four former incentive programs were consolidated into the Kentucky Business Investment Program in 2009, Kentucky still has many programs, including ones designed specifically for the bourbon and horseracing industries.  Besides these, the state aggressively pursues large companies like Ford Motor, Toyota, Amazon, and UPS with copious rewards. 

Most of Kentucky’s major incentive programs are administered by the Cabinet for Economic Development (CED) and approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA). The exceptions include the training program, which is managed by the Bluegrass State Skills Corporation, and the Film Industry Tax Credit, which is managed by the Kentucky Film Office.  

The CED’s incentive database includes recipient-level disclosures for 18 programs including those that no longer accept new applications. Subsidized film companies are disclosed separately on the Department of Tourism website. However, the data on project performance such as jobs or payroll created is lacking.  

Kentucky has such a long list of modest programs that its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) ends up lumping into sizeable chunks. Few local governments report tax abatement programs in accordance with Statement No. 77. Even fewer school districts report this, likely because industrial revenue bonds are omitted from reporting requirements (Good Jobs First believes this should be remedied), which Kentucky localities rely heavily on to finance development. 

Since a comprehensive evaluation was conducted of its incentive programs in 2012, Kentucky state agencies have neither followed up with updates nor created a schedule for regular check-ins. The lack of information on job creation outcomes in the transparency portal on top of that makes it virtually impossible to assess where some of the state’s most expensive programs stand.   

Our database tracking corporate misconduct, Violation Tracker, scours 450 federal, state and local agencies in compiling resolved civil and criminal cases against companies. See the list of state agencies from which we collect information in Kentucky.

Last updated October 2023. 

For more information, contact Nya Anthony at [email protected].