COVINGTON, Ky. — Covington is working to form a ripple effect through local businesses in the area, with a program that allows neighborhood business districts to compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in public improvement funding.
The winners of last year's funding, the Lewisburg neighborhood, secured $300,000 for their area. Because of the success of last year, the program is back again to continue making big changes in small neighborhoods throughout Covington.
"If we put a couple hundred thousand dollars in, that might spur private investors to put a million dollars in. Then you can make a big impact in a small area," said Jeremy Wallace, City of Covington federal grants manager.
The city is taking applications right now, offering $200,000 to a select group that proposes investment in a neighborhood business district; the city would then help add physical improvements to the winning area.
"I remember back in the day, my grandpa would say, 'Don't ever give up that corner, it's going to be big time some day,'" said Chip Boehmker, current owner of Herb & Thelma's Tavern, which has operated in Lewisburg since 1939. For Boehmker, that day has finally come.
It's in that building where his grandparents started the tavern decades ago, where he, himself, worked for decades before retiring and, upstairs, where he lived and was born. This coming spring, the area is set to make physical improvements to the neighborhood thanks to the funding it won, which only means good news for Boehmker and his business.
"They were really successful in acquiring a bunch of properties -- they have a new salon going in imminently -- (and) they're using other city programs like our upper-floor rehab to do residential space," said Wallace.
The physical improvements the city is considering for Lewisburg include redoing sidewalks, implementing new lighting and possibly adding murals to spruce up the business district.
The 2019 application period is open, and pre-applications are being accepted through December 20. To apply, neighborhoods just need to supply a one-page summary of what their idea could be; applicants can also call the City of Covington for more information.