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Covington Small Business Program to Award Bonus Point to Minority, Women, Veteran-Owned Operations

The City of Covington is poised to change its small business incentive program offering new eligibility to day cares and bonus points for operations owned by minorities, women, and military veterans.

On Tuesday, the city commission is set to adopt its new budget and regulations around the program with another $150,000 in funding.

Since 2018, the program has assisted fifty-three small businesses in the city with rent subsidies or facade improvement grants.

"Every year we figure out ways to fine-tune the program to better focus it on its mission - helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in all areas of the City not only survive but also thrive," said Economic Development Project Manager Ross Patten.

The changes:

  • Expand the rent assistance eligibility to daycare businesses.
  • Award "bonus points" - for both the rent assistance and façade programs - on the application score sheet for businesses owned by minorities, women, and military veterans.
  • Specify that exterior improvement projects featuring only new awnings or signage are ineligible for façade incentives, since the purpose of the program is to create more-permanent improvements.
  • Add contact information for neighborhood community councils and business associations to the application for rent subsidies for use by businesses seeking support for their application. 

Economic Development Director Tom West told the commission that daycare centers were specifically added because they provide a service seen as an important amenity by other businesses moving to an area.

He also said the "bonus points" for minority and women ownership - a common feature of federal and state business incentive programs - had been first proposed over a year ago.

"We think these changes could have a big impact," West said.

About the incentives

The rent subsidy program provides up to $500 a month for a year to keep the rent of a new business affordable while it is 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 improvements to their commercial building's exterior.

-Staff report