The Lexington Venture Club on Wednesday night held its annual celebration of entrepreneurs' accomplishments amid optimism over an encouraging report.
The group, joined by others at Buster's Billiards & Backroom in the Distillery District, heard that entrepreneurial companies in the Bluegrass region attracted $69.9 million in venture funding in 2011.
That's up 7.5 percent from $65 million in 2010 and well above the $47.5 million in 2009.
The figures come from the club's annual survey, to which 78 companies responded this year.
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"We had fewer companies reporting, but every single category increased," said Warren Nash of the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership. "That's just remarkable to see in this economy."
The companies surveyed reported $127.2 million in revenue in 2011. That's up 35.3 percent from $94 million in 2010. It's also far more than in previous years, including $32.4 million in 2009, $37.8 million in 2008 and $32.1 million in 2007.
"The Lexington Venture Club and the Bluegrass Business Development team is proud to support and promote these entrepreneurial companies," said Gina Greathouse, senior vice president of economic development for Commerce Lexington. "The team works tirelessly to make this event a success for them.
"It is great to see such a good community turnout in support of them."
The survey showed various employment numbers improved in 2011 compared to 2010, though some remained below marks set in 2009.
The survey's respondents employed 780 people in 2011, including 605 full-time. Both numbers are up compared to 2010, when the companies employed 748 people, including 537 full-time. While employment grew, it hasn't outpaced 2009, when the respondents employed 804 overall, though only 532 full-time. One factor was 2009's survey had more respondents.
Despite the tough economy, the companies participating in the survey hired 279 people, including 182 full-time, in 2011. That's up from hiring 240 people, including 154 full-time in 2010.
"It's good quality jobs," said Nash, director of the Lexington Innovation & Commercialization Center at the University of Kentucky.
As with total employment, though, the 2011 hiring results remained that of 2009, when 386 people were hired.
The average salary at the firms was $65,651 for full-timers, up 3.4 percent from $63,485 in 2010. The 2011 figure remains less than the average of $69,800 in 2009.