Tiffany plant shines as new recruit to region

Richard Rogers set a diamond Tuesday at Tiffany & Co.'s new manufacturing center on Innovation Drive.
Richard Rogers set a diamond Tuesday at Tiffany & Co.'s new manufacturing center on Innovation Drive.

Tiffany & Co. brought some bling to a dreary economic climate this week as it officially opened a manufacturing plant in Lexington Tuesday to produce its signature luxury jewelry.

Tiffany feels like a true success story for economic development that goes beyond the allure of its world-famous name. The brand represents quality, an image our city and region would like to share. The company's investment in a new plant and in extensive training for the workers are a sign that it's here to stay.

And Tiffany has already proven to be an excellent corporate citizen, making connections with and contributions to the Chandler Medical Center at the University of Kentucky, LexArts, the Kentucky Children's Hospital and the Lexington Philharmonic.

So, what can we learn from this success?

Tiffany senior vice president John S. Petterson spoke to the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism last summer about how his team narrowed down the search from 50 cities to one. When Lexington was the last of five finalists the group visited, they sat down over a drink to talk about the decision. Every location had its strengths and weaknesses, he said. In the end this wasn't just a spreadsheet decision. "Something feels good about Kentucky," Petterson recalled saying, and then enumerated the reasons for that feeling, "arts, values, the people that we've met."

That's a good mantra to keep in mind during a host of discussions about priorities for our community.

It's also interesting to note that Tiffany built a 25,000-square-foot facility on four acres of land. So, it wasn't a huge plant ready and waiting or a vast tract of land that sealed the deal.

Petterson made particular note of the services provided by CommerceLexington, even after Tiffany began operations here, and the welcome Tiffany received from former Mayor Jim Newberry and Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane.

We offer our thanks to them and our hopes that present and future leaders will remember those keys to luring world-class companies: arts, values and people.