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Covington’s Small Business Program awards grants to three businesses; rooftop restaurant gets loan

A seamstress, an AI startup, and a longstanding local supply company located in three different areas of Covington have been awarded financial help by the Covington Board of Commissioners.

The Commission approved one façade improvement and two rent subsidy incentives through the City’s internationally recognized Small Business Program.

The incentives came during the first round of funding this fiscal year under the program, which sets aside $150,000 a year in three areas — helping fledgling businesses with first-year rent and commercial property owners upgrade their exteriors or restore an historic electric business sign.
The awards:
Rent Subsidies

• $5,400 to The Gardening Seamstress, a woman-owned business focused on bridal alterations that is relocating from Cincinnati to Ritte’s Corner in Latonia. The business aligns with the City’s target sector of “Experiencing Covington.”
•  $6,000 to Flamel.AI, Inc., a high-growth startup business that will add at least $600,000 in new payroll. The business is located at 615 Madison Ave. and aligns with the City’s target sector of “All Things Office.”

JH Fedders receives funds for facade improvements. (Photo provided)

Façade Improvement

•  $6,000 to JH Fedders Inc., a 140-year-old business located at 1550 Russell St. that sells supplies for animals, lawns, gardens, pest control, and more. The funds will help with the $16,400 cost of painting the store’s entire façade.
“We’re happy to support both longtime businesses such as Fedders as well as cutting-edge businesses like Flamel.AI,” said Covington Assistant Economic Development Director Sarah Allan.
Meanwhile, the Commission also approved a $100,000 tax-increment financing loan (TIF) for Opal Rooftop Bar & Restaurant at 535 Madison Ave., which opens this fall. The seven-story rooftop restaurant is the third Covington venue for proprietor Bill Whitlow, who owns Rich’s Proper Food and Drink at 701 Madison Ave. and Hangry Omar’s Slider Shack at Covington Yard at 401 Greenup St.
The bar and restaurant is one of the tenants of the renovated six-story Republic Bank building, whose first floor includes the bank and other floors include newly designed Class A office space.
“This business adds another unique experience to our city and furthers the sense of place our team is working so hard to foster,” said Allan.

Businesses interested in applying for either the façade, historic electric sign, or rent assistance incentives should contact Sarah Allan at (859) 292-2144 or sarah.allan@covingtonky.gov. For information, see applications and guidelines.
Between 2017 and 2023, the Small Business Program has assisted 131 businesses or projects (not counting 58 COVID-related Small Business Emergency Grants) … supported 37 businesses with women, veteran, or Black owners … leveraged almost $7.3 million of private investment … helped create or retain over 5,800 jobs … and impacted just under 470,000 square feet of vacant commercial space that has been filled or improved.
In 2021, the program received an award from the International Economic Development Council, the world’s largest organization of development professionals.

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