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Covington considering economic development consultant; will vote Dec. 11 on $100,000 project

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

It was a busy day, they said.

The committee, which included representatives from the Covington City Commission, the City’s Economic Development Authority Board, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, and City staff, had whittled the list of 12 applicants down to five, and they decided to interview all of them — on the same day.

So yes, it was busy. But it was necessary — and it all actually started back in the summer.

In August, the city agreed to issue a request for proposals to hire a consultant to create a city-wide economic development strategy for the next five years.

And when they got 12 qualified, nationwide candidates, it was tough work to get it down to five finalists. Still, they did, and they spent one long day interviewing those finalists. 

One group stood out from the rest.

It was Garner Economics, city Economic Development Director Tom West told commissioners at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night.

“They were unanimously selected by the review panel,” he said, explaining that the company is a well-respected national consulting firm for economic development that is known for its data analysis and its ability to explain situations in “plain English” and implement their ideas.

“What we wanted was something very action-oriented,” West said.

The $100,000 project is scheduled to be completed over a seven-month timeframe beginning in January 2019. “It will be funded with $50,000 of lease funds from the Kentucky Career Center designated for economic development projects, as well as an additional $50,000 from the TIF District,” city documents say.

Commissioner Michelle Williams was one of those who served on the committee, including that marathon day of interviews.

“Everyone worked very hard to pull this off,” she said. “I’m definitely recommending.”

Commissioners decided to put the proposal on the regular agenda of their next legislative meeting, which will be at 6 p.m., Dec. 11, at the Covington City Hall.

Loan Committee Recommends Funding for City’s Small Business Program

The city also heard proposals Tuesday to fund nearly $42,000 of façade and rent subsidies for seven small businesses in the latest round of the Covington Small Business Program. The city had budgeted $150,000 to provide about 25 rent subsidies or façade improvements to businesses. 

In the first round, commissioners approved seven applicants. In the second, they approved eight. This round’s applicants included:

Braxton Brewery, 27 W 7th St., facade incentive: $5,717

Davon Auto, 4343 Boron Dr., façade incentive: $6,000

Half & Half Antiques General Store, 3630 Decoursey Ave., façade incentive: $6,000

KKW LLC 8-14 W. 7th St., façade incentive: $6,000

KKW LLC 16 W. 7th St., façade incentive: $6,000

Rich’s Proper Food & Drink, 703 Madison Ave., rent subsidy incentive: $6,000

Work Architecture, 20 E. 5th St., rent subsidy incentive: $6,000

The Braxton Brewery application will be on the regular agenda next Tuesday, while the others will be on the consent agenda.

Also Tuesday:

– Commissioners heard a proposal to expand the use of iWorQ software so residents can call in work orders for code enforcement, zoning permits and parks. The city’s public works department currently uses the software for infrastructure like roads, curbs and sidewalks, etc., said Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith. 

“The public would be able to eventually submit code complaints electronically,” Smith said. 

The iWorQ proposal called for $17,000 for set up, training and system configuration “including data transfer from the existing system plus $17,000 per year for licensing,” city documents say.

Smith said that’s cheaper than the price for the city’s current software. “It’s not often you upgrade for a lower cost,” he said.

The proposal will be on the consent agenda next week.

– Commissioners also heard a proposal to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the new Parking Authority to “outline the rules between the Authority and the City,” said City Solicitor Michael Bartlett. 

Per the memorandum: “The Parking Authority is responsible for various parking-related matters on behalf of the city. It is necessary to memorialize the relationship between the Parking Authority and the city through a Memorandum of Understanding, which will document the transfer of the responsibility of parking related assets and duties from the city to the Parking Authority.”

The proposal was put on the city’s consent agenda for next week.

– Commissioners entered into Executive Session at the end of the meeting “for litigation purposes,” Mayor Joseph U. Meyer said, before adding that the group would not re-convene afterward and no action would be taken.

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Dec. 11, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

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