City leaders like to say that small businesses are the “heart and soul” of Covington’s economy and that The Cov entrepreneurs are genuine, original and eclectic.
The Covington Council of Commissioners backed up its praise with action on Tuesday night approving financial aid to eight small businesses, including:
• A brand new concierge-type wine merchant.
• The creator of “wearable art” and personalized interactive devices (such as a “champagne dress” with pockets for 100 glasses of champagne).
• A fair trade boutique showcasing the work of artisans from all over the world.
• An existing independent toy store.
• And a new restaurant / café Latonia in preparation.
The $ 41,950 in incentives represented the fourth round of the City’s annual small business program, a $ 150,000 annual initiative that offers assistance with first-year rent or exterior improvements.
“We are delighted with the number of incentives and the diverse nature of the projects,” said Ross Patten, deputy director of economic development at Covington. “Despite the pandemic, this program does exactly what we designed it to do: help small businesses get started, help create jobs in Covington, and improve the business climate.”
With the approval of these eight projects, the program will have helped 69 small businesses in Covington since the start of 2018.
Four of the new awards helped pay rent and four helped fund facade improvements, and collectively they helped create new businesses and jobs in five different neighborhoods: MainStrasse Village, Old Town / Mutter Gottes, Latonia Milldale , Eastside and Westside.
Six of the companies were awarded “points” for being owned by women, minorities and / or veterans, and several for using contractors from Covington.
The Rent Subsidy Program offers a subsidy of up to $ 500 per month for first year rent. Newly approved prices:
· $ 6,000 for Durham Brand & Co., a full-service graphic design studio with clients like Bud Light, Old Spice and Braxton Brewing Co. As part of a $ 316,000 expansion, Durham adds three employees (it now has five) and nearly quadruples its space with a move from Pike Street to larger neighborhoods at 523 Madison Ave.
$ 5,400 to East to Vest Productions, a new boutique at 10 W. Pike St. that offers portable artwork and personalized interactive displays for businesses to enhance event experiences. A graduate of the MORTAR Covington Entrepreneur Development Program, founder Stacey Vest plans to add six full-time employees.
$ 5,700 to SoHza Sister, a new fair trade store at 610 Main St. that buys, designs and sells jewelry, handbags and clothing from licensed craft groups around the world. The company, which operates from a stand at the Findlay Market in Cincinnati, plans to add two full-time jobs.
$ 6,000 for the benefit of WineCats LLC, dba The Bottle Shop, a new concierge-style wine and sundries retail store that will feature a wine club, special events and classes, and wine tastings at 8 W. Pike St. An extension of the nearby Ripple Wine Bar owned by Kathleen and Matt Haws, the $ 100,000 investment plans to hire three to four employees. Kathleen Haws said The Bottle Shop expects to open in a few weeks.
The facade program offers forgivable loans of up to $ 6,000 to match the dollar-for-dollar investment in exterior improvements to commercial buildings. New rewards:
$ 6,000 to Christopher Green to renovate the old Funny Farm bar in Latonia and introduce a new restaurant-café concept called Pandemonium. As part of a $ 46,480 project, exterior work will include replacing windows and doors, adding signage and lighting, painting and improving the parking lot. Staff analysis highlights that the 3426 Decoursey Ave. (pictured above) is a “major rehabilitation of a building visible to a convenience store in desperate need.”
$ 6,000 to Tischbein Properties to improve the facade of 802 Scott Blvd., which now houses Aesthetic Health & Weight Loss. The work will include the replacement of the awning and the door and the addition of exterior lighting, signage and flower pedestals. Covington contractors get the job done.
$ 6,000 to the Women’s Crisis Center (now the Ion Center for the Prevention of Violence) for $ 98,595 in facade work, including painting, new signage and updated windows. The Center also completed $ 400,000 interior renovations to 835 Madison Ave., which enabled it to relocate staff to Covington from an out-of-town location. The Covington contractors got the job done.
$ 850 to Sandra Stonebraker for $ 1,700 of work on the facade of Stoney’s Village Toy Shoppe in MainStrasse Village, that is to say painting. A Covington contractor does the job.
Companies interested in applying for facade or rental programs should contact Patten at (859) 292-2144 or [email protected] The applications themselves and information on the programs are available on the City’s website, HERE. The deadline for the next round is July 30.
Town of Covington