COVINGTON, Ky. — A new partnership in Covington will help nurture the creation and growth of Black-owned businesses by making available meeting space for free, consulting services and other resources needed by entrepreneurs.
Partners include the City of Covington, the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce (AACC), and the Northern Kentucky University Collaborative for Economic Engagement, which operates out of 112 Pike St. in Covington’s “Innovation Alley.”
Right now, the city doesn’t track the exact number of minority-owned businesses in Covington, but it wants to encourage more.
One tangible way it does that is to award “bonus points” to minorities, women, and veterans who apply for grants or loans through the city’s Small Business Program, which helps with rent in a business’s critical first year or with exterior improvements to a building. This new partnership – which grew from discussions initiated by the city – will provide even more help, officials say.
The AACC will have use of the Collaborative for Economic Engagement space in Covington to meet with potential entrepreneurs and existing business owners. For the AACC, the physical space establishes a visible presence to implement the resources it will bring to Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses in the region.
Among the range of resources, the AACC will provide is Pivot, a program created during the pandemic to help shift businesses toward recovery. The program continues to provide help and tools for established businesses as well as entrepreneurs.
The collaborative works on a shared-services model that allows businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit from the expertise of a variety of agencies as well as NKU’s specialized programs, co-located in a central hub.
By facilitating connections, Stephenson said, the collaborative helps increase entrepreneurship and innovation in the region, including among minorities and other underserved entrepreneurs and investors, with the goal of driving job creation.
Eric Kearney said he thinks entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, both because of COVID-19 and because he believes young people are willing to take chances now. He’s excited to establish new connections with entrepreneurs south of the Ohio River.
Covington Economic Development Director Tom West said the partnership will complement the character of The Cov’s economy, given the emphasis on unique startups, local-owned businesses, and personal attention here.
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