Small biz incentive program fine-tuned

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Covington’s Small Business Program has been used over the last few years to help entrepreneurs and small businesses like OKOTA, a wedding design and planning company on Pike Street.

 
COVINGTON, Ky. - New eligibility for daycare centers and “bonus points” for businesses owned by minorities, women, and military veterans are among changes set to be adopted for the City of Covington’s small-business incentive program when it kicks off a new year July 1 with another $150,000 in funding.
 
The program has helped 53 small businesses in Covington with first-year rent or façade improvements since the beginning of 2018, including - most recently - a software development firm in MainStrasse Village and a café-coffeehouse in Latonia.
 
“Every year we figure out ways to fine-tune the program to better focus it on its mission - helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in all areas of the City not only survive but also thrive,” said Economic Development Project Manager Ross Patten.
 
The Covington Board of Commissioners discussed changes to the program Tuesday night and agreed to put them on its consent agenda for next Tuesday.
 
The changes:
  • Expand the rent assistance eligibility to daycare businesses.
  • Award “bonus points” - for both the rent assistance and façade programs - on the application score sheet for businesses owned by minorities, women, and military veterans.
  • Specify that exterior improvement projects featuring only new awnings or signage are ineligible for façade incentives, since the purpose of the program is to create more-permanent improvements.
  • Add contact information for neighborhood community councils and business associations to the application for rent subsidies for use by businesses seeking support for their application. 
Economic Development Director Tom West told the Commission that daycare centers were specifically added because they provide a service seen as an important amenity by other businesses moving to an area.
 
He also said the “bonus points” for minority and women ownership - a common feature of federal and state business incentive programs - had been first proposed over a year ago.
 
“We think these changes could have a big impact,” West said.
 
About the incentives
The rent subsidy program provides up to $500 a month for a year to keep the rent of a new business affordable while it is building operations.
 
The façade improvement program offers property owners a forgivable loan of up to $6,000 to match dollar-for-dollar their investment in improvements to their commercial building’s exterior.
 
For more information or to apply, contact Ross Patten at (859) 292-2144 or rpatten@covingtonky.gov.
 
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