Small businesses: Apply for $$$ by April 26

Grainwell’s thriving boutique on West Pike Street is testament to what energetic entrepreneurs with a good idea can do, especially when they receive a helping hand.

Covington seeking to give away $50K for rent, façade work

COVINGTON, Ky. - Almost $50,000 is available for businesses in Covington who need help with first-year rent or with fixing up the exterior of their buildings.
The money is available through the City of Covington’s Small Business Program, and applications for the fourth and final round of funding of this budget cycle are due by April 26, said Ross Patten, the City’s Economic Development Project Manager.
“We know the first year can be tough for small businesses trying to get off the ground, and we want to help alleviate the financial pressure they feel in that critical period,” said Patten about the rent subsidy program, which offers a grant of up to $500 a month for first-year rent.
The façade program is a forgivable loan of up to $6,000 to match investment dollar-for-dollar in exterior improvements to a commercial building.
Businesses who are interested in applying for either should contact Patten at (859) 292-2144 or The applications themselves and information about the programs can be found on the City’s website HERE.
The City has $48,477 to use in the fourth round of funding out of the $150,000 set aside for the Small Business Program this year.
The City has helped 17 businesses with rent and exterior improvements in the current budget cycle and at least 38 since the beginning of 2017.
These have benefited new businesses like Moonrise Doughnuts, Rooted Yoga, Flying Axes, Chako’s Bakery, and Wellfit, as well as established businesses like Egelston Maynard Sports, Old Towne Tavern, Emerson’s Bakery, and Herb & Thelma’s Tavern.
The stories of two Pike Street businesses are indicative of the Small Business Program’s impact, Patten said, using information from their grant applications: 
  • Rent Subsidy (Grainwell): In 2014, three sisters started their shop creating wood-centric goods in Covington. They started with word-of-mouth orders, but in a few short years, they have online sales and wholesale accounts in 85 boutiques across the country. Due to their growth, they wanted to grow their retail presence in Covington and open a storefront at 33 W. Pike St. While this was a financial challenge for a small business, after utilizing the City’s rent subsidy program, they were able to make the dream possible. 
  • Façade Program: (Peppe Cucina): The owners of Wunderbar bought the building at 39 W. Pike St. with the dream of adding a small deli to serve the neighborhood. The building had sat vacant for years, but after utilizing the City’s 50/50 façade incentive, the business partners opened the Peppe Cucina Italian deli in 2018. As strong Covington supporters, shopping local was important to the owners. Therefore, they utilized local contractors to build their gorgeous metal signage, paint, and make exterior repairs - and now have many Covington restaurants that source their meats and bread from their deli. 
About the programs:
This year’s façade and rent subsidy programs are an upgrade from past years.
The City doubled the amount available to $150,000 this budget year after running out of money well before the end of last year’s budget cycle.
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.

One of the City’s forgivable façade loans helped lead to exterior improvements at Peppe Cucina Italian deli.

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