sbyrne@mayfield-messenger.com 
 
A nationally known industry trade publication has ranked Mayfield and Graves County the 19th-best micropolitan area in the country in terms of growing existing businesses or attracting new ones. The ranking is Site Selection Magazine's "Top Micros of 2018," and they were announced Monday. "They are the pre-eminent magazine for business and site selectors throughout the country," Graves County Economic Development President Ryan Drane said. What sets the rankings apart are that they are not arbitrary numbers but instead based on projects with strict criteria, he said. The Mayfield-Graves County micropolitan area tied for third in the state in the number of qualifying projects. Kentucky as a whole was second in having the most qualifying projects, 40 in all. Ohio finished first. A micropolitan area is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as an area of one or more counties with one city containing between 10,000 and 49,999 people. There are 536 in the nation. "I think it speaks volumes that our community is growing," Drane said of the ranking. "We have a number of existing businesses that are expanding. We're seeing new opportunities each and every day. Those new opportunities are bringing new companies into our community." Only four micropolitan areas in Kentucky made the top 25, and all the others are east of Interstate 65, which roughly bisects the state into eastern and western regions. The other Kentucky communities in the top 25 and their rankings were: Danville (10th), London (14th) and Glasgow (tied for 19th). Others that made the list, but not in the top 25, were Madisonville and Frankfort (both 29th), the Union City, Tennessee area, which includes a portion of Kentucky (41st) and Mount Sterling, Maysville and Bardstown (all 62nd). In several cases multiple cities tied for a ranking, so 103 communities actually comprised the top 62 spots on the list. The rankings are based on the number of economic development projects announced in 2018 that met one of three criteria: $1 million in investments, 20 or more new, full-time employees or a 25,000-square-foot addition to a currently existing facility. Mayfield had five qualifying projects announced in 2018, according to the magazine. Two of those were the announcement of an expansion of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory into the former Remington Arms plant at the Hickory Industrial Park and the announcement of GenCanna's hemp research and manufacturing plant being built near Hickory. The Mayfield-Graves County area ranked 18th in 2016 but did not make the top 25 in 2017. "So two out of the past three years we've been top 20 in the country," Drane said. He noted that the area also had other, smaller projects announced in 2018, but those did not qualify for this ranking. Taken together, the total projects amounted to 155 full-time jobs and an estimated investment of more than $65 million, he said. Mayfield Mayor Kathy O'Nan said that while gathered with city, county and economic development leaders during last month's ground-breaking ceremony for the GenCanna plant on U.S. 45, "I just felt an excitement for prospective economic growth in Graves County. That day it was almost electric." She said she is noticing more young families involved in activities throughout the city and county, and that makes her hope for the future increase. Graves County Judge-Executive Jesse Perry praised leaders working together to bring jobs to Mayfield and Graves County. "For me, that just shows that what we are doing is working," he said. "This team effort, the city, the county, the chamber of commerce and economic development working together are unified, and lots of good things are happening, and they're going to continue to happen from what the radar's showing."