Home » After 969 jobs in 2023, Covington sees once in generation opportunity

After 969 jobs in 2023, Covington sees once in generation opportunity

Economic impact report: investments, progress on CCR, and more

COVINGTON, Ky. — The newly released 2023 Impact Report from Covington’s Economic Development Department illustrates a dynamic momentum that further builds on the solid foundation for robust growth on the “bold side of the river.”

“Economic Development encompasses a lot of different things,” said Covington Business Attraction Manager Susan Smith, who shepherded the report from beginning to completion. “The report demonstrates a well-rounded effort, from the Quality of Place artwork to attracting and retaining jobs, from workforce initiatives to progress on the 23-acre Covington Central Riverfront development, and much more.”

The report, which can be seen at Economic Impact ’23 and was created by Covington-based design studio AGNT, speaks to a year defined by an array of positive trajectories.

“I’ve heard people say they can ‘feel’ the energy in Covington,” Smith said. “AGNT did a great job of capturing it throughout this Impact Report. The momentum continues, thanks to all those who believe and invest in The Cov.”

What the numbers say:

  • 969 new and retained jobs.
  • $55.9 million leveraged in private investments.
  • $76,116 in incentives for small businesses.
  • 22 City-organized ribbon cuttings.
  • 146,000 square feet: Size of the first new spec industrial building in Covington decades. (Ground-breaking at 135 W. 38th St. in Latonia.)

Demographics, from 2017 to 2023:

  • Educational attainment up 46.9%
  • Median household income up 58.8%
  • Poverty rate down 14.3%

‘Once-in-a-generation opportunity’ …

The Covington Central Riverfront saw significant progress in 2023, laying the groundwork for the activity and headlines you’ve likely read in recent weeks: A proposed law school-medical school complex, an agreement with Drees Homes to build 16 townhomes fronting Fourth Street, and a contractor starting work on Phase 1 of the site’s public infrastructure.

The 2023 Impact Report highlights the City’s efforts over the past year that led to that momentum:

In 2023, the City hired Business Flare Economic Development Solutions to prepare a marketing strategy, guide policy, subdivide the site, develop marketing materials, and provide oversight of the initial appraisals of the parcels.

Additionally, the City partnered with the Catalytic Fund to develop financial models for several types of projects to attract smaller developers … issued RFPs for four parcels, ranging in size from 13,000 square feet to 112,000 square feet … arranged site tours for developers and brokers interested in those parcels … worked with architectural firm KFZ Design to develop engineering plans for the horizontal infrastructure (streets, sidewalks, sewer lines, utilities etc.) to create site-ready parcels for developers … issued an RFP for a contractor to build the first phase of the horizontal infrastructure … brought in 27,000 of the 60,000-plus cubic yards of fill dirt required to regrade the land … met with legislators and business leaders to provide updates on the progress and further describe the vision and anticipated financial impacts estimated to be $94.5 million over 30 years for state coffers alone … and began negotiations of developers’ contracts for Blocks O and N.

The scope and allure of the CCR neighborhood didn’t go unnoticed. The City earned the 2023 Special Merit Award for Outstanding Master Plan for the CCR Strategic Master Plan given by the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Workforce Development

In 2023 the City continued to partner and invest in further opportunities for residents and help businesses overcome barriers to attracting and retaining workers. Among initiatives:

  • The Covington Academy of Heritage Trades at the Enzweiler Institute saw 48 enrollments, of which 29 were Covington residents who received $27,750 in tuition scholarships. (The Economic Development Department raised additional scholarship funds from sales of COV merchandise (which you can purchase here at Cov Merch.)
  • The City invested $200,000 over five years in the Enzweiler Building Institute’s new Covington construction trades campus, reserving 29 percent of the spots for Covington residents and/or students.
  • The “Covington Works” partnership with Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKYADD) was created to increase skills and wages for Covington residents and increase the employee pipeline for Covington businesses. The partnership provides transportation, scholarships, and on-the-job training supplement.
  • The City and the Esperanza Latino Center of NKY partner to help match Latino/Hispanic residents to job openings and build community awareness of City programs related to business startups and opportunities.
  • Aviatra Accelerators, the NKU Collaborative, and the Small Business Development Center at Innovation Alley continues to be a hub for entrepreneurship.
  • Diversity and inclusion continued to be part of the City’s core identity. Covington earned a perfect score of 100 on the Municipal Equity Index (MEI) from the Human Rights Campaign … was a presenting sponsor of the 2023 Community Pride Awards … published a Spanish version of the City’s internationally acclaimed Business Guide … and received the 2023 Special Merit Award for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion from the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Visiting, hosting, celebrating

To improve its ongoing personal touch, Economic Development staff made 131 visits to 98 Covington businesses … hosted an awards event for historic preservation projects and creative businesses and groups (the Authenti-CITY Awards) … and co-hosted the statewide Kentucky Association of Economic Development Fall Conference for more than 200 guests.

Creative vibe

The City improved a sense of place in The Cov through a competitive grant program that resulted in creative productions like the “Shogun Sanders” mural at 863 Main St. … “Go with Glo” benches, planters, maps, bike racks and repair station at Greenup and Third streets … the “Clive” the alien sculpture on the Midtown Parking Garage on Scott Street … “Everybody’s Bench” at 700 Scott St. … and more.

Throughout the report, local business owners and community leaders weighed in with high praise for the Economic Development Department’s broad impact, and the grand potential ahead.

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