COVINGTON, Ky. — Spiros Sarakatsanis knows the food he serves at Dixie Chili is good, but the aging red-and-white facade of his 50-year-old Covington chili parlor could use a little TLC — new paint, a new sign and new trim. Thanks to a $3,500 small-business grant from the city, he’ll be able to afford it in 2020.
“What we do as far as the facade is concerned is very important for drawing people in,” he said Friday. “We’re trying to keep this section of Covington alive.”
But it's been hard to find the funding for it, he added. The city's cash infusion will enable him to give the spot a makeover he's wanted for years.
“We have put it off for a while because it’s so expensive,” he said.
The grant is a part of the city’s Small Business Program, which provides a rent subsidy grant of up to $500 a month for rent for the first year or a forgivable loan of up to $6,000 to match investment dollar-for-dollar in exterior improvements to a commercial building.
Dixie Chili wasn't the only recipient. COR Freight LLC, Haven Cafe LLC and Lewisburg Gateway LLC also received grant money to help with rent or facade improvements.
Over the last three years, the city has invested nearly $300,000 in businesses through the Small Business Program.
Businesses don’t have to be located downtown to apply, according to Ross Patten, Covington’s economic development project manager.
“In fact, we want to continue using the Small Business program to encourage investment outside the urban core in our neighborhood commercial districts,” Patten said.
The projects from the four businesses will add about 10 jobs to Covington.
Here’s how the businesses will use the grant money:
- Dixie Chili, which has been serving chili from 2421 Madison Ave. since 1971, will receive a $3,546 forgivable facade improvement loan to help install a new custom electric sign and paint accent trim on its building.
- COR Freight LLC, located at 525 W. Fifth St., will receive a $6,000 rent subsidy over a one-year period. The freight brokerage firm moved two jobs to its location last summer and will add two more employees.
- Haven Café LLC, at 332 Scott Blvd., will receive a $5,298 rent subsidy over a one-year period. The café, which will be opening on the ground floor of The Bradford Building, will focus on healthy, sustainable and grab & go foods.
- Lewisburg Gateway LLC, which will house Salon Jade, will receive a $5,634 forgivable facade improvement loan to help replace storefront windows, add transoms and install maintenance-free flower boxes to the front of the building.
Applications for the next round of funding are available now.
Business owners who are interested in applying should contact Patten at 859-292-2144 or email@example.com.
Click here for more information and for the application.