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It's Official: UpTech is Moving Its "Big Ideas" to Covington

"It's official! UpTech will be moving to Pike Street in Covington in 2013. We couldn't be more excited and thank all those who helped make this permanent home for us a reality."

That's the message posted Thursday afternoon on the Facebook page of UpTech, the ambitious start-up incubator founded a year and a half ago to kickstart innovative young companies in Northern Kentucky.

The Covington City Commission on Tuesday approved measures that would have made UpTech's move possible (as first reported last Friday here at The River City News), but even after the vote there was not an official deal to make the move.

That all changed with Thursday's announcement.

"As big as all the news of investment in infrastructure is, the potential of what we're about to unleash if UpTech comes here is amazing," City Commissioner Steve Frank said Tuesday. Frank is a big donor to Northern Kentucky University's College of Informatics, where UpTech was first announced in January 2012. "I donated (to the university) for exactly this reason."

"Our goal is to bring fifty start-ups to Northern Kentucky by 2017," said UpTech Executive Director Amanda Greenwell on Tuesday.

Through the organization, selected start-ups receive $50,000 in seed money funded through private investors, foundations, and other resources.

UpTech's second class of start-ups will be announced in July and will be the first to operate in its new location on Pike Street following its move from Newport.

The total cost of the project at 112 West Pike Street is $1.5 million. That number includes $195,000 from Orleans Development to purchase the property, $165,000 for Orleans to complete minimal restoration (off-street parking, demolition, roof & exterior repair, window installation), $175,000 from the Catalytic Development Fund of Northern Kentucky for upper floor residential renovation work, a $703,000 loan from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for upper floor residential renovation work, $70,000 from the City of Covington's upper floor renovation grant funds, $35,000 from the Duke Energy Foundation's Urban Revitalization Initiative, and a $180,000 build-out for the commercial space.

The City of Covington will enter into a lease agreement at 112 West Pike Street with Pike Star, LLC, a company led by developer Tony Kreutzjans who has rehabbed multiple buildings in that area and is currently creating the Market Lofts up the street. From there, the City would sub-lease the space to UpTech.

"Doing these kinds of things show that we are progressive in our thinking," said Mayor Sherry Carran.

Greenwell explained that UpTech received 78 applications for its next class from all over the world, a 35% increase from its first year. All twenty-two semi-finalists are from the surrounding region.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Future home of Uptech