Conference to get dose of Covington's creativity

Katie Meyer, the interim executive director of Renaissance Covington, reviewed RCov’s activities in 2018 for Covington’s elected leaders. 

COVINGTON, Ky. - Downtown Covington's creative places, programs, and people will be in the spotlight in late April when about 150 officials from cities and towns in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky gather here to discuss strategies to increase social and economic vitality. 

The Kentucky Main Street Program is celebrating a milestone with a 40th Anniversary Conference in Covington on April 23-25.
The conference will include a variety of sessions on topics like creative place-making, Smart Cities initiatives, and rural vibrancy, said Katie Meyer, the interim executive director of Renaissance Covington (RCov), the agency that runs Covington's Main Street Program. More importantly, she said, it will give RCov an opportunity to showcase its programs and initiatives and call attention to Covington's restaurants, bars, retail shops, and entertainment options.
Events and sessions will be held at Hotel Covington, the BLDG Refuge and places to be determined along Madison Avenue.
"This is a big event," said Meyer, who gave the Covington City Commission a quick rundown on the conference as part of RCov's annual report Tuesday night to the City's elected leaders.
The City helps fund RCov's operations, and Economic Development Director Tom West made sure elected leaders understood how closely his staff worked with the organization.
"We look at this as more than a contract or transaction. This is a true partnership," West told the Commission. "We see Renaissance Covington as an extension of our department that, when it comes to creating quality of place, can do things we can't do, like being 'disruptive' or doing the kinds of 'cool' things we're not able to do in government."
Across the nation, Main Street programs (now branded as Main Street America) focus on helping older communities revitalize their downtowns, and Covington's program is seen as a leader. Not only does Kentucky have the oldest statewide program in the country, but in 2017 Renaissance Covington received the national organization's highest award because of its energetic and creative place-making.
Meyer - who served as RCov's full-time director until earlier this month - recounted for the Commission a list of initiatives that the organization undertook or helped coordinate in 2018 to make Covington a more vibrant place to live, work, and visit. These included:
  • Working with Cincinnati Bell to bring a free public WiFi network to Covington's urban core that provides wireless connections in public areas, uses a captive portal to give wayfaring information, and collects data about visitors' habits for local businesses.
  • Creating a pop-up green space on Scott Boulevard called Madhatter Park.
  • Expanding the Covington Farmers Market to a year-round event. (Weekly attendance averaged 600-700 attendees this year and at times topped 1,000.)
  • Starting the monthly Pike Street Stroll, which showcased retail shops, restaurants and local musicians.
  • Covington Outdoors Weekend.
  • Small Business Saturday.
  • The Northern Kentucky Pride Parade.
  • Bridge Folk Music & Arts Festival.
  • The 199C block party.
  • The Arts and Drafts.
At the end of the presentation, RCov Board President Rebekah Gensler told the Commission that the organization hoped to name Meyer's replacement in mid-February.
Renaissance Covington's executive committee received 13 applications, determined that five applicants had the required experience, and is bringing in two finalists for interviews in the second week of February, she said.
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