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Covington's Business Incentives Program Now Available City Wide

Covington is expanding the boundaries of two incentive programs that help small businesses and has changed criteria to favor businesses that bring the biggest benefit to the City and surrounding neighborhoods.
 
Tonight, the Covington City Commission is scheduled to approve, as part of its consent agenda, new guidelines for its Small Business Program for the 2019 fiscal year, namely incentives that help business improve their exteriors and new businesses with rent.
 
"Covington is blessed with a huge array of one-of-a-kind small businesses, and many of them operate out of historically significant buildings," said Tom West, the City's Economic Development Director. "That's a big part of what makes Covington unique and what makes our economy go. But sometimes those businesses need a helping hand."
 
"What we're doing with this new approach to our incentives is to recognize the value of revitalization in nodes throughout the City," he said. "We're pleased that our Neighborhood Services Department is joining us in that approach by opening up its Upper Floor Residential Rehab program throughout the City as well."
 
The City's proposed budget slated for final approval on Thursday doubles the budget for the two programs to $150,000, enabling it to help about 25 small businesses. 
  • The rent subsidy program provides up to $500 a month to keep a new business' rent affordable while they are building operations. 
  • The façade improvement program offers property owners a forgivable loan of up to $6,000 to match dollar-for-dollar their investment in updates to their commercial building's exterior. 
Both incentives will now be offered citywide.
 
Previously, the application form for the two programs used to be the same.
 
For the coming fiscal year, the City created separate forms that include a points-based rating system to help staff better evaluate the applications and identify businesses that will bring the best return to the City and have the biggest positive impact on surrounding neighborhood business districts, West said.
 
The City also changed the façade loan to make it available to the owner of the property instead of business owners who might rent space in the building 
  • A building owner that applies for a façade improvement loan will be rated on whether the project is ready for construction, the ratio of matching funds, whether the work will be done by Covington contractors and suppliers, the visibility of the location, whether the building was previously vacant and for how long, and whether the project complements recent investment in the surrounding area. 
  • A business that applies for a rent subsidy will be rated on its visibility, the strength of its business plan and financial documentation, the number of jobs it will create, whether its product or service fills a need in the surrounding area and whether it complements the mix of businesses in that area. 
In 2017, Covington used the façade program to help 12 small businesses, including Smoke Justis in the Roebling Point District, Emerson's Bakery in Latonia, and Olde Towne Tavern on Pike Street/Seventh Street. It offered seven rent subsidy grants to businesses like Lil's Bagels in Roebling Point, and Grainwell Market and Chako's Bakery on Pike Street.
 
For more information about the Small Business Program or to apply, contact Economic Development Project Manager Ross Patten at (859) 292-2144 or [email protected].
 
From the City of Covington