Wine, ‘wearable art,’ toys, & Latonia cafe

A skirt that holds 100 champagne glasses is an example of the “wearable art” (for companies that want to elevate event experiences) provided by East to Vest Productions. (Photo provided)

Latest City incentives support 8 small businesses 

COVINGTON, Ky. – City leaders are fond of saying that small businesses are the “heart and soul” of Covington’s economy and that The Cov’s entrepreneurs are authentic, quirky, and eclectic.
The Covington Board of Commissioners backed their praise with action Tuesday night by approving financial help for eight small businesses, including:
  • A brand-new concierge-style retail wine shop.
  • The creator of “wearable art” and custom interactive displays (such as a “champagne dress” with pockets for 100 champagne glasses).
  • A fair trade store featuring the work of artisans from around the world.
  • An existing independent toy shop.
  • And a new Latonia restaurant/café in the making. 
The $41,950 in incentives represented Round 4 of the City’s annual Small Business Program, a $150,000 yearly initiative that offers help with either first-year rent or exterior improvements.
“We’re thrilled by the number of incentives and the diverse nature of the projects,” said Ross Patten, Covington’s assistant economic development director. “Despite the pandemic, this program is doing exactly what we designed it to do: Help small businesses get off the ground, help create jobs in Covington, and improve the business climate.”
With the approval of these eight projects, the program will have helped 69 small businesses in Covington since the beginning of 2018.
Four of the new awards helped with rent and four helped fund façade improvements, and collectively they facilitated the creation of new businesses and jobs in five different neighborhoods: MainStrasse Village, Old Town/Mutter Gottes, Latonia Milldale, Eastside, and Westside.
Six of the businesses received “points” for being woman-owned, minority- and/or veteran-owned, and several for using Covington contractors.
Rent subsidies
The rent subsidy program offers a grant of up to $500 a month for first-year rent. Newly approved awards:
·      $6,000 for Durham Brand & Co., a full-service graphic design studio with clients like Bud Light, Old Spice, and Braxton Brewing Co. As part of a $316,000 expansion, Durham is adding three employees (it now has five) and is nearly quadrupling its space with a move from Pike Street into larger quarters at 523 Madison Ave.
·      $5,400 to East to Vest Productions, a new shop at 10 W. Pike St. that provides wearable art and custom interactive displays for companies to elevate event experiences. A graduate of the MORTAR Covington entrepreneur development program, founder Stacey Vest expects to add six full-time employees.
·      $5,700 to soHza Sister, a new fair-trade store at 610 Main St. that buys, designs, and sells jewelry, purses, and clothing from empowered artisan groups from around the world. The company, which has been operating from a booth at Findlay Market in Cincinnati, expects to add two full-time jobs.
·      $6,000 to benefit WineCats LLC, dba The Bottle Shop, a new concierge-style retail wine and sundries shop that will feature a wine club, special events and classes, and wine tastings at 8 W. Pike St. An extension of the nearby Ripple Wine Bar and owned by Kathleen and Matt Haws, the $100,000 investment expects to hire three to four employees. Kathleen Haws said The Bottle Shop expects to open in a couple of weeks.
Façade loans
The façade program offers forgivable loans of up to $6,000 to match investment dollar-for-dollar in exterior improvements to commercial buildings. New awards:
·      $6,000 to Christopher Green to renovate the old Funny Farm bar in Latonia and bring in a new restaurant-café concept called Pandemonium. As part of a $46,480 project, the exterior work will include replacing windows and doors, adding signage and lighting, painting, and parking lot improvements. Staff analysis points out that the project at 3426 Decoursey Ave. is a “major rehab of a visible, corner-store building that desperately needs it.”
·      $6,000 to Tischbein Properties to improve the façade at 802 Scott Blvd., which now houses Aesthetic Health & Weight Loss. Work will include replacing the awning and door and adding exterior lighting, signage, and flower pedestals. Covington contractors are doing the work.
·      $6,000 to Women’s Crisis Center (now The Ion Center for Violence Prevention) for $98,595 in façade work, including painting, new signage, and window updates. The Center also completed $400,000 in interior renovations at 835 Madison Ave. that enabled them to move staff to Covington from a location outside of the city. Covington contractors have been doing the work.
·      $850 to Sandra Stonebraker for $1,700 of work on the façade of Stoney’s Village Toy Shoppe in MainStrasse Village, namely painting. A Covington contractor is doing the work. 
Businesses who are interested in applying for either façade or rent programs 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 deadline for the next round is July 30.
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