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Covington initiative helps small businesses with expansions, improvements

Small Business Program still has money to give
Covington Garden Grove Organics facade
Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 19:33:10-05

COVINGTON, Ky. — Three companies were awarded nearly $12,000 Tuesday for building improvements and rental assistance as part of an initiative that has helped more than 100 Covington small businesses expand since 2017.

Branding firm BrandFuel received $6,000 to subsidize rent on its two-year lease on W. Pike Street, while Mark Kohlhas received $1,834 for facade improvements to the building. The city said both are investing more than $3,000 in new signage and painting.

Jodie and Jeffrey Ganote received $3,943 to help renovate a spot in the Lewisburg neighborhood into Jodie Ganote's law office. The two have already invested $50,000 into renovating the interior, and Ganote said she plans to paint a wildcat blue and white trim to be "a welcoming entrance to our city."

Every year, the city sets aside $150,000 to fund the program, with between five and six businesses getting a grant each quarter.

Business owners say the money goes a long way. In 2021, a forgivable loan was awarded to improve the facade of Garden Grove Organics, helping the company build a new sign and paint a large colorful mural.

“That was perfect, they are a garden company that created a mural of a biting plant,” said Ross Patten with the city’s department of economic development. “That was just very on point.”

Unique murals and buildings can be spotted throughout the city.

“Covington is very quirky and that's our vibe,” Patten said.

Many of the quirky additions are a result of a small business grant program, whose goal is to make the city beautiful and to help small businesses expand.

“We help businesses that are trying to improve the facade of their building to help entice customers in and make their buildings look better,” Patten said. “The other side of it is rent subsidies so that the first year it's $500 off their rent for one year.”

Scooter and Spotted Yeti Media were two of those businesses that received money in December 2020. The owners used the funds to help pay for a $25,000 renovation of their building's facade.

“Ultimately we landed on an awning, signage and we put pavers out front,” Spotted Yeti Media owner Molly Berrens said. “We put up new lighting and we also added flower boxes to hopefully make a more dramatic appearance to our front building.”

Berrens said the pandemic had originally pushed back any plans of making those improvements, but winning the grant gave them the funds to get it done sooner.

“We are a very close-knit community,” Berrens said. “It is very apparent that the city believes in investing in those small businesses.”

The city's support is why Berrens said deciding to purchase a commercial business in Covington was a no-brainer. Last fall, the program was recognized globally by the International Economic Development Council.

The Small Business Program still has $94,748 available through June 30, 2022. The final deadline for applications is March 25.

Businesses that are interested in applying should contact Ross Patten at 859-292-2144 or at Applications and guidelines for the programs can be found here.

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