Incentives give boost to six more businesses

The buildings on Seventh Street that used to house Heringer Meats are being turned into commercial storefronts and apartments.

COVINGTON, Ky. - The City of Covington is giving six more businesses help with first-year rent and fixing up their exteriors.

The incentives - representing the second round of funding through the City’s expanded and upgraded Small Business Program - were approved Tuesday night by the Covington City Commission on a series of 5-0 votes.
The incentives will benefit an eclectic group of businesses, consisting of an antiques store, a brewery, an auto and boat repair facility, a restaurant/pub, an architects’ office, and the developers of a former meat wholesale business that is being renovated into up to five commercial storefronts.
The businesses are located downtown and in Latonia, although they technically fall in five different neighborhoods.
Economic Development Director Tom West said the Small Business Program helps businesses and projects that typically don’t qualify for other incentives with a focus on those that bring jobs, services, and energy.
“With these incentives, we’re investing not only in these small businesses but also in the surrounding community,” he said.
In all, eight businesses applied for funding in this round, the second of four rounds in the fiscal year.
Seven projects received awards: Two of the award recipients were given one-year rent subsidies ($500 a month for 12 months) to lessen the financial pressure on them as they establish roots. Four were given forgivable loans to help pay for improvements to the façades and exteriors of five buildings.
The awards totaled $41,717.
Rent subsidies 
  • $6,000 for Work Architecture and Design, Ltd., a design firm that has signed a two-year lease for a new office at 20 E. 5th St. The Louisville-based firm intends on investing $100,000 to renovate the building to become its regional office and showroom. The firm says its workload is on track to triple in 2019, based on new contracts. Three employees have relocated to Covington, and it plans to hire six more. 
  • $6,000 for Rich’s Proper Food & Drink, a southern pub cuisine restaurant that opened in November at 703 Madison Ave. The $450,000 project is led by Bill Whitlow and chef Tom Hull, and the restaurant has signed a six-year lease. It expects to hire about 11 full-time employees. 
Façade Improvements 
  • $5,717 to Braxton Brewing Co. for signage, exterior accent lighting, and cleaning of its front façade as part of $11,434 in façade improvements at its building at 27 W. Seventh St. The work is part of a $5 million expansion that will include new equipment and fermenters, renovation of the second floor and a rooftop bar. 
  • $6,000 to Ludlow Family Properties for decorative awnings and exterior lighting at the new Davon Auto location at 4343 Boron Drive. The $12,480 in façade improvements are part of the $800,000 project for Davon, which expanded and moved from Eighth Street. The company offers collision repair, general maintenance services, boat repair, and auto sales on restored vehicles. 
  • $6,000 to Johnny Chu/Half & Half, LLC for a front awning and possibly exterior accent lighting and paint of the Half & Half Antiques General Store at 3630 Decoursey Ave. The store, at Ritte’s Corner in Latonia, was damaged in a fire in January 2018. The $13,114 in exterior work is part of a $335,000 renovation. 
  • $12,000 to KKW LLC to help pay for new windows and doors on separate buildings at 8-14 W. Seventh St. and 16 W. Seventh St. ($6,000 per building). The neighboring buildings, the former home of Heringer Meats, are being substantially renovated as a $738,000 project. When finished, one building will become a commercial space with two, two-bedroom apartments. The other will provide up to four commercial storefronts. 
This year’s façade and rent subsidy programs are an upgrade from past years.
The City awarded $75,000 through the programs last fiscal year but ran out of money well before the year was over, so for the current fiscal year West persuaded the City Commission to double the funds available to $150,000.
The City Commission also approved two other changes: Expanding the program’s geographic boundaries to include the whole city and adopting an evaluation system that identifies businesses that will bring the best return to the City and have the biggest positive impact on surrounding neighborhood business districts. 
  • A building owner that applies for a façade improvement loan is 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 is 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. 
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