With $128K left, Dec. 29 is deadline for small business to seek help with rent, facades

Bill Whitlow restored the neon sign at his Rich’s Proper Food and Drink on Madison Avenue. Wanting to replicate Rich’s impact in illuminating Covington’s nightlife, the City created the Historic Electric Signage Program to help local businesses breathe life into vintage signs.

Latest award: Historic sign incentive to polish

Golden Gelato’s nighttime aesthetic

COVINGTON, Ky. – A Pike Street dessert shop that features authentic Italian gelato and sorbetto will soon flip the switch on its nighttime aesthetic with help from the City of Covington’s award-winning Small Business Program.

The Covington Board of Commissioners recently approved a Historic Electric Signage incentive for Golden Gelato, located at 128-130 W. Pike St., for the refurbishing of a historic outdoor light fixture.

Tom West, the City’s Economic Development Director, told the Commission that the owners had bought two historic lanterns and planned to turn them into “signs” featuring the name of the business.

“Before we opened Golden Gelato in 2021, we had originally fallen in love with the historic building at 130 West Pike St.,” explained Joe Jones, who owns the small business with his wife, Vanessa. “We tried our best to keep the character of our building, which was originally built in 1862. The City of Covington's Historic Signage grant has allowed us to match our signage to the historic nature of the building, and we couldn't be more excited or grateful for the opportunity.”

The Commission approved a $4,524 grant to the property owner, Jones Holdings, LLC, to go toward the work, which includes re-wiring and hand-painted sign lettering.

The unique incentive is the third and most recent addition to the City’s Small Business Program and was created in 2022 to enhance Covington’s evening ambiance. Other program incentives include rent help for vulnerable new businesses and help fixing up the exterior of commercial buildings.

Applications for the next round of incentives from the City are due Friday, Dec. 29.

“The program helps new businesses get off to a strong start by reducing operating costs in their first year in a brick-and-mortar space,” said Covington Business Attraction Manager Susan Smith. “It’s a game changer to help businesses find a home, sooner rather than later. Existing businesses in Covington are eligible if they have substantial expansion plans.”

The program offers up to $500 a month for first-year rent for 12 months; a forgivable loan of up to $6,000 to match dollar-for-dollar investments in fa├žade improvements to a commercial building, such as for paint, lighting or windows; or a 3-to-1 match of a forgivable loan up to $7,500 to repair historic electric signage. The rent subsidy is for new and expanding businesses.

Smith encourages businesses to apply soon for the next round of incentives.

This is the second round of incentives this fiscal year under the $150,000 program. With two rounds left, the program has $128,076 left.

To apply

Businesses who are interested in applying for any of the three small business incentives should contact Covington Business Retention Manager Patrick Duffy at (859) 292-2141 or at See Applications and Guidelines for more information.

People interested in opening a business in Covington can also read the Economic Development Department’s Business Guide, available in English and Spanish.

Proven success

Since 2017, 132 projects in Covington have been helped by the Small Business Program, including 47 businesses owned by minorities, women, and/or military veterans.

In 2021, the program received an award from the International Economic Development Council, the world’s largest council of development professionals.


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