Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Frankfort, KY

Frankfort, KY

Nestled between Lexington and Louisville is the state capital and entrepreneurial hotspot Frankfort, Kentucky.

Frankfort, KY, located on the banks of the Kentucky River, is the state’s capital and its 14th-largest city by population. Despite its diminutive size, however, the city has become an entrepreneurial hotspot: the city ranked 167th on WalletHub’s list of the best small cities to start a business, with a ranking of 75th in the “Access to Resources” category. Part of that ranking is due to Frankfort’s location between two major cities in Lexington and Louisville (79th and 81st respectively on WalletHub’s list of the best large cities to start a business. Kentucky as a whole also has attributes that contribute to Frankfort’s business environment – according to WalletHub, the state has the fifth-best business costs in the country.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Frankfort’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Just outside of Frankfort, the Business Network of Lexington hosts regular networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the area.

The Louisville Entrepreneurs & Networking meetup is a large group of entrepreneurs and other professionals meeting on a monthly basis to make connections and pass on referrals.

The Master Builders Academy is an organization that works to provide training and support resources to help grow startups.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a number of events. They aim to support area businesses and some aimed at supporting the community at large.

Lexington plays host to an annual Startup Weekend, two-day entrepreneurial conferences host in cities around the world by Techstars.

Women Leading Kentucky, a Lexington-based organization that supports women in business, hosts regular events including workshops, networking opportunities and an annual conference.


Startup Competitions:

Graduate and undergrad students from around Kentucky with animal-, plant- or food-based startups can compete for a prize package of $10,000 in the Alltech Innovation Competition.

Students at colleges and universities around the commonwealth of Kentucky can compete for prize money and business support services in the annual KY Pitch Competition.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge is an annual business plan competition for high school students in Kentucky.

The University of Louisville College of Business hosts a pair of business plan competitions for graduate students, with one competition open to grad students everywhere.


Co-working Spaces:

Base110 is a co-working space that provides several levels of membership plans for co-working, office and event spaces in Lexington.

CityFeet, a website that collects office space for rent in cities across the country, has several buildings listed in and around Frankfort.

The Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce keeps a running list of office space made available for rent by different entities around the city.



Located in Lexington, the Kre8Now Makerspace offers members 24/7 access to the workshop and available tools and hosts weekly tours that are open to the public.

LVL1 is a makerspace located in Louisville that includes 8,800 square feet of workshop space full of tools and equipment as well as classrooms and storage.

Students at the University of Kentucky have access to the school’s two makerspaces, the Engineering Prototype and Invention Center (EPIC) lab and the Innovation Center.



The University of Kentucky runs the Advanced Science & Technology Commercialization Center, an incubator program for early-stage tech startups.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, an organization that supports small businesses, is headquartered in Lexington and has locations throughout the commonwealth.

KY Innovation runs RISE, a program with hubs throughout Kentucky (including in both Lexington and Louisville) that help support startups and their founders.



Headquartered in Lexington, Empire Builders is a virtual accelerator program that helps start-ups located anywhere grow and succeed.

Wild is a ten-week pre-accelerator program based in Louisville that works with promising idea-stage and early-stage startups led by female entrepreneurs.

Based in Louisville, XLerate Health is an accelerator program that supports early-stage healthcare startups and helps bring them to commercialization.



Kentucky State University’s School of Business & Technology offers a 15-credit certificate program in entrepreneurship to all undergraduate students.

The Gatton College of Business and Economics at UK includes the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship, which organizes and runs a number of programs for interested students.

In addition to a pair of business plan competitions and other resources, The University of Louisville’s Forcht Center offers an MBA program and an undergrad minor in entrepreneurship.


Angel Groups/VCs:

An angel investment group that works with early-stage technology startups located throughout the entire commonwealth.

The investor group primarily focuses on early- and expansion-stage healthcare and technology startups.

The Commonwealth Seed Capital Fund is an independent venture capital fund started by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development that invests in promising technology startups.

The goal of Kentucky Angel Investors is to help the commonwealth’s economy by investing in innovative technology-based startups based within Kentucky.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

BusinessLexington, a publication of Smile Pete Publishing that focuses on business news in the area, offers a Weekly Wire email newsletter.

Louisville’s daily newspaper, the Courier-Journal, offers a variety of newsletters, including one focusing on business news in the city and surrounding areas.

The Lane Report, a business journal for Kentucky, offers both subscriptions to the physical magazine and a newsletter with big business news and headlines.


Are you familiar with the entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Frankfort, KY not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Lexington, KY, Louisville, KY, Cincinnati, OH

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.