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Covington Hopes for More Economic Development with New Program

The City of Covington added another element to its effort to spur investment in the city with the adoption of guidelines for a new economic development program.

Those guidelines unanimously passed the Covington City Commission on Tuesday night.

Assistant City Manager Larisa Sims explained that the new program will strive for development in vacant and underutilized buildings through projects that help stimulate other investment in a catalytic manner.

"In order to successfully attract and retain businesses, it is important that the city is armed with a diverse set of economic development resources," said Sims, who oversees the city's department of development. "This new Economic Development Program, along with our recently adopted Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) and payroll tax incentives place the city in a competitive position to attract new development."

The program, using $1 million in funds over the next five years will provide gap financing where developers cannot get loans, remediate environmental concerns, provide upper floor rehab matching grants, and offer opportunities to improve facades.

The $1 million will come from the city's special revenue funds that include the investor program and the Newport Steel fund.

The new program will be administered by the Covington Economic Development Authority, a board created at the adoption of the TIF that is made up of Mayor Sherry Carran, Sims, Kenton County Judge-Executive Steve Arlinghaus, and former mayor Chuck Scheper and Jeanne Schroer, both with the Catalytic Development Fund of Northern Kentucky.

Final approval of any deals proposed would remain with the Covington City Commission.

The criteria that must be met in order to qualify to receive portions of the funding include the experience of the development team, the extent of improvements to the site selected, the site location and its potential to spin-off other developments nearby. Additional criteria include the quality of the jobs that would be created and whether the new business has a sustainable model.

Sims said that current plans are not narrowed to a particular area of the city, unlike the TIF that focuses exclusively on Downtown.

Written by Michael Monks

Photo: Downtown Covington/RCN file

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