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Growing Company Considering a Move to Covington

A growing company may be moving its headquarters from Cincinnati to Covington.

Clubessential, a provider of software as a service to private clubs, resorts, and semi-private and public golf facilities, received preliminary approval on Thursday from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board for a $600,000 tax incentive.

The company currently operates on Delta Avenue in Cincinnati but is considering space at Covington's RiverCenter towers, a City Hall official told The River City News when contacted by a reporter on Thursday. A phone message left with the marketing department at Clubessential has not yet been returned.

According to documents filed in Frankfort, Clubessential is considering a move of its home office and headquarters to Covington's riverfront. In the agreement that received preliminary approval in Frankfort on Thursday, the company would add ten new jobs in year one, a total of 20 by year three, 25 in year four, and a total of 40 new jobs by year five. The average hourly wage target for these positions is $40, according to the documents filed in Frankfort.

The company has also request a 1 percent payroll tax in Covington, below the city's standard 2.45 percent. The terms of that request were not immediately available.

"We are so excited that Clubessential is considering Covington as a location for their global headquarters," said Geoff Milz, City of Covington development manager. "We understand the decision hasn't been finalized but we're just really happy to still be in the running."

The Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED) has been heavily involved in the process to bring Clubessentials to Covington.

“Northern Kentucky Tri-ED is pleased that Covington is being considered for Clubessential’s headquarter operations. We are hopeful and look forward to working with Clubessential over the next 60 days as a final decision is made,” said Dan Tobergte, president & CEO of Tri-ED, in a statement.

LISTEN: Why it's a good time to be in Covington

Last week it was announced that Clubessentials received a growth-equity investment from Boston-based Battery Ventures, which now owns 20 percent or more of the company, according to documents filed in Frankfort. According to a news release at the time, the new capital would be used to accelerate growth by investing in product innovation, sales and marketing, and acquisitions.

Specific terms of that deal were not disclosed.

The product -- called the "Clubessential Unified Suite" -- is a turnkey solution that allows club members to log into club websites, check their accounts, make reservations or update their profiles, a news release said. The back-end suite includes a full accounting system to support club operations, including retail and food-and-beverage, point-of-sale solutions. The company also offers customer-relationship management, mobile-app and online-payment products. 

Clubessential was founded in 1998 and has about 175 employees in Cincinnati as well as Austin, Tx., Raleigh, NC, Kansas City, Ks., and Boston, Ma.

"Several years ago, we realized we would need external equity financing to support our growing operations, launch new products and enter new markets," said Dr. William Ivers, Clubessential's CEO, in a news release announcing the capital from Battery Ventures. "We had been speaking with Battery since 2013 -- they were our favorite partner choice because of their history in SaaS investing, their knowledge of our target markets and their skill in accelerating growth and acquisitions. In 2015 our growth jumped with the introduction of the Unified Suite and our entry into the resort market -- we knew it was time to add a strong financial partner."

Other local companies win incentives approval in Frankfort:

Also on Thursday, three other local companies benefited from the meeting of the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board. Florence-based Alpla, Inc. won final approval for $800,000 in tax incentives and intends to add more than 30 jobs at its newly expanded plastic bottle-making facility. 

Hebron-based Skilcraft won final approval for $600,000 in tax incentives and will add more than 30 jobs over the next five years as it plans to expand its operations. Skilcraft is a manufacturer and provider of custom metal fabrication.

Erlanger-based Mila International, a developer of veterinary medical products, was approved for a $3,500 small business tax credit as it adds a new employee to its 12-member staff.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: RiverCenter and floodwall murals (RCN file)