The Lexington Venture Club on Thursday night held its annual celebration of entrepreneurs' accomplishments and touted results of a survey suggesting strong growth.
The group, joined by others at Paulie's Toasted Barrel downtown, heard that entrepreneurial companies in the Bluegrass region attracted $83.8 million in venture funding in 2012.
That's up 20 percent from $69.9 million in 2011 and also above the $65 million reported in 2010.
The figures come from the club's annual survey, to which 87 companies responded this year.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
"A lot of good things are happening," said Warren Nash, director of the Lexington Innovation & Commercialization Center at the University of Kentucky. The center is part of the statewide Innovation Network overseen by the state Cabinet for Economic Development. "We're very pleased with the results and very proud of these companies.
"They continue to plug on in a tough economy."
The companies surveyed reported $141.4 million in revenue in 2012. That's up 11 percent from $127.2 million in revenue in 2011 and also above the $94 million reported in 2010.
Similar companies could be locating in Lexington soon, said Gina Greathouse, senior vice president of economic development for Commerce Lexington.
"We've had six visits by companies already this year," she said, noting these entrepreneurial firms work with the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership, which includes the city, Commerce Lexington and the University of Kentucky.
The survey also showed that various employment numbers improved in 2012 compared to past years.
The survey's respondents employed 823 people in 2012, up 6 percent from 780 in 2011. The employment numbers also outpaced the 748 reported in 2010 and the previous high of 804 in 2009.
Despite the continued tough economy, the companies participating in the survey hired 304 people, including 201 full-time, in 2012. That's up from hiring 279 people, including 182 full-time, in 2011.
The average salary at the firms was $68,067 for full-timers, up 4 percent from $65,651 for full-timers in 2011. The 2012 figure remains less than $69,800 on average in 2009.
"The great thing about this is these are sustainable, very good paying jobs," Nash said. "They're going to spend money in the community, whether it's a restaurant, dry cleaner, it's going to put all that back into the community."