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The top employers, industries in Louisville

We’re known for more than just bourbon.

An SUV is moving down the assembly line, where a worker prepares to install something under its hood.

The Ford Truck plant produces the Ford Super Duty, the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator.

Image courtesy WHAS11

Table of Contents

More than 700,000 people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the LOU metro area’s $90 billion economy. But have you ever wondered about the 502’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Derby City Business 101 — your guide to our region’s five key industries and five major employers.

Note: When we say Louisville metropolitan statistical area, that refers to Jefferson, Oldham, Bullit, Shelby, Spencer, and Henry counties in Kentucky + Floyd, Harrison, and Clark counties in Indiana.

The key industries

There are five key industries that make up the LOU metro area’s economy, based on data from Greater Louisville Inc. We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Logistics and E-commerce | 84,000 employees

Given that we’re situated within a day’s drive of multiple major cities, Louisville is a natural hub for logistics + e-commerce fulfillment — especially due to the presence of UPS Worldport (more on that later).

Aside from airline cargo transportation, there are 6,800 miles of railroad that run through Kentucky and Indiana.

Fun fact: 200+ companies have relocated to the Louisville region due to UPS.

Advanced Manufacturing | 82,000 employees

With 1,300+ manufacturing firms crafting goods from electrical components to appliances, Louisville has a rich tradition of manufacturing excellence. Zooming out, ~260,000 Kentuckians work in a manufacturing facility.

Healthcare and Aging Innovation | 57,000 employees

The UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a nationally-recognized leader in cancer research and the university itself has received more than $64 million in research funding. Derby City is also known for several medical firsts, like the first self-contained artificial heart implant + first successful hand transplant. If you didn’t know, you know now.

Business Services | 30,000 employees

Need a lawyer, accountant, marketer, or real estate firm? You’ve landed in the right place as this industry is expected to grow 20% over this decade.

Food and Beverage | 15,000 employees

For a city with such a robust foodie scene, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that food and beverage is a major industry in the 502. The city’s 125+ food and beverage companies rake in ~$23 billion in revenue — including flavor development firms, producers, and distributors.

Two boxes move along a conveyor belt on their way to be delivered.

The UPS Worldport processes more than 2 million packages per day.

Image via WHAS11

The major players

Now that we’ve established the major industries, we bet you’re curious for specific names. Whether you’re job hunting (or just “casually prospecting”), here are LOU’s five largest employers.

United Parcel Service

26,328 employees | Logistics | Search jobs

Millions of packages pass through Derby City each day thanks to UPS Worldport at 911 Grade Ln. — the largest fully-automated package handling facility in the world (5.2 million sqft).

Opportunities on the company’s behemoth campus run the gamut from internships to warehouse handling to account executives. Its Earn & Learn Program also provides employees with financial assistance for higher education.

Norton Healthcare

15,044 employees | Health care | Search jobs

This not-for-profit hospital and health care system runs this town — with six area hospitals and 340+ care locations throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Jefferson County Public Schools

14,000 employees | Education | Search jobs

As the largest school district in Kentucky — and the 30th largest in the country — faculty and staff help mold the minds of ~95,000 students. The sprawling district includes 165 schools, 60 magnet schools and programs + 6,890 teachers — 82 percent of which have a master’s degree or higher.

UofL Health

13,136 employees | Health care | Search jobs

Affiliated with the University of Louisville School of Medicine, UofL Health offers services at 200 physician practice locations and more than 1,000 providers across the area. The organization isn’t just focused on treating Louisville’s ailments today — the affiliation with the University of Louisville includes research to develop new technologies + advanced treatments for the future of medicine.

Ford Motor Co.

13,020 employees | Manufacturing | Search jobs

With two manufacturing facilities in the city — the Kentucky Truck Plant + Louisville Assembly Plant — this automotive maker adds $4.3 billion to the local economy. And the opportunity continues, with a new battery plant from Ford + BlueOval SK in Hardin County, that will bring in 22,000 more jobs to the region.

This information is derived from the most recent data published by Louisville Business First.

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