Incentives give boost to four more businesses

The City is helping the owner of 3616 Decoursey Ave. renovate the building to house The Bluegrass Barn, a coffee shop that will feature art and music.

COVINGTON, Ky. -- A pizza pub, a full-service salon, a wedding design/planning firm, and a soon-to-arrive coffee shop that will feature music and art are the latest beneficiaries of the City of Covington's expanded and upgraded Small Business Program. 

The Covington City Commission voted 5-0 tonight to approve one application for help with first-year rent and three for help fixing up exteriors as part of the program's third round of funding.
Two of the businesses are located near Ritte's Corner in Latonia, one in MainStrasse Village and one in the Old Town/Mutter Gottes neighborhood.
The City believes the businesses will add energy to their surrounding business districts, Economic Development Director Tom West said.
"With these awards, we're investing not only in these small businesses but also in their surrounding communities," he said. "That's how this program was designed."
Three of the award recipients were approved for forgivable loans to help pay for improvements to the facades and exteriors of their buildings. One was given a one-year rent subsidy.
The awards totaled $21,570, leaving $48,477 for the fourth round of funding coming up.
The recipients: 
  • $6,000 to Kenneth E. Smith for the building at 3616 Decoursey Ave. (next door to Goodtimers II) to help finance a $19,000 reconstruction of the storefront. Smith plans to replace the display windows with a commercial garage door that opens up to the street to make way for The Bluegrass Barn. Come May, Billie Mocabee and Joshua Scarpaci plan to open what Mocabee calls "a shop for coffee lovers and creatives" featuring "coffee, chocolate and a barn full of quirk." The shop will feature musicians and regional art. 
  • $6,000 to Ace Restaurant Group (DBA Mac's Pizza Pub) to replace eight upper-floor windows and a large window on the ground level as part of a $15,671 façade project at 604-606 Main St. Mac's Pizza Pub located in Covington in 2015 and has become a popular eating spot. 
  • $6,000 to K & A Holdings, LLC to help pay for the exterior portion of a complete renovation of the historical building at 266 Pike St. The $24,947 façade project will restore the storefront, replace windows, paint, and tuck point. The building is occupied by OKOTA, a wedding design and planning company which recently moved to Pike Street. 
  • $3,570 to Head 2 Toe Salon to help with first-year rent at 3629 Decoursey Ave. Rachel Thompson, who has six years' experience in the beauty industry, opened the full-service salon in November 2018. The new business will create five jobs. 
In all, the City received six applications this round. Of the two applicants who did not receive funding this round, one is still obtaining zoning approval for exterior improvements and the other is receiving help from the City on improving its application for the next round.

Head 2 Toe Salon opened near Ritte's Corner in November 2018 and will receive City help with first-year rent.

About the programs:
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.
Along with the increased funding came 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.
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