Telling Covington’s story … in an inventive way

‘Story map’ helps market City’s economic momentum
COVINGTON, Ky. - The pieces are diverse: A photo of the taps and a “pour” at Braxton Brewing Co. ... a video clip of the CEO of CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services describing why his firm moved its HQ to Covington ... a collage showing architectural features of historic buildings ... a quote from the regional manager of The Stephen Gould Co. describing City staff’s “enthusiasm” ... facts about a tax incentive called “Opportunity Zones.”
There was a time when cities - wanting to brag on themselves with the hopes of attracting jobs, businesses, and talented workers - used magazine ads.
These days, they assemble pieces like those described above and create what are called “story maps.”
Originally designed as tools to help students follow books by separating out characters, plot and setting, “story maps” combine maps with narrative text, pictures and video interviews.
The new story map of Covington - assembled by the City’s Economic Development staff and the GIS team at Planning and Development Services of Kenton County - tells the story of a City with a quirky vibe, a historic look, a walkable downtown ... and a lot of economic momentum.
To see the story map, click HERE.
Suzann Gettys, the City’s Business Retention & Expansion Specialist, said the “map” would be used to market Covington in its relentless search for new business, jobs, and talent.
“This super-cool, interactive map represents just one of the many tools and platforms the City can use to tell the Covington story,” said Gettys, who managed the story map project. “It also naturally ties in with several key recommendations of an economic action plan recently written for Covington by a national business consultant.”
The story map highlights recent developments and pipeline projects in Covington, as well as activity that is occurring as a result of these projects. It includes: 
  • Video interviews with business officials from CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services, Strange Stock Art Conservation, Otto’s and Frida restaurants, Smoke Justis, Duveneck Square, The Salyers Group, and UpTech Accelerator. 
  • Photos of dozens of projects and locations in Covington. 
  • Discussion of the City’s urban “vibe,” creative spaces, historic storefronts, and streetscape projects. 
  • Short features on small businesses like Bard’s Burgers, Cutman Barbershop, The Hannaford, and Aviatra Accelerators, as well as large, ongoing developments like River Haus and the John R. Green project.

  • Descriptions of The Learning Center at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and Innovation Alley. 
  • Features on adaptive reuse of historic buildings into joint commercial/housing development, such as Bradford on Scott, The Mutual Building, and Madison Flats. 
  • Details about tax incentives called Opportunity Zones and Covington’s neighborhood competition called The Ripple Effect. 
  • Key facts (for example: the median age in Covington is 36.8, households spend $2,147 on entertainment a year, median house value is $120,342). 
  • Focus on the Roebling Point District, MainStrasse Village, Downtown, the Linden Gateway Corridor and Latonia. 
Covington Economic Development Director Tom West said the story map helped implement a key recommendation of a data-driven economic development strategy written by Atlanta-based business consultant and site selection adviser Garner Economics.
The report, which was adopted by the Covington City Commission on Tuesday night, advised the department to enhance its marketing efforts in a strategic and active manner.
“Doing so will strengthen the City’s position for economic development, entrepreneurship, business attraction, and talent attraction to a U.S. and international audience comprised of C-level executives, site selectors, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals making business location decisions,” the report said.
“This story map is a start,” West said, “but we’ll be doing a lot of things going forward.”
From Covington’s end, a significant part of the work on the story map was done by Abbey King, a Masters of Public Administration student from Northern Kentucky University who was interning in the Economic Development Department. Largely because of that work, King was named NKU’s 2019 Outstanding MPA Student.
She now works for the City’s Parks & Recreation Division.
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