American Sign Museum

Funding Received: 2013
Cincinnati, OH
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 30, 2014

By Erica Bolenbaugh

CoSign officially launched in the Covington neighborhood this month! We recently had the Call to Businesses and recruited a wide variety of local businesses including: restaurants, a new brewery, a neighborhood grocer, art galleries and event space, and a barbershop. Simultaneously, we are busy recruiting artists to develop sign designs and concepts. The designers and business owners will interact for the first time at our workshops starting at the end of the month. During the workshop, the CoSign team details the entire process, including how to submit designs, how the designs are reviewed, and the process for permitting, engineering and sign fabrication. This is an opportunity for businesses within the designated CoSign zone and any local designer to decide if CoSign is right for them. It’s also the first time that designers and participating businesses connect and designers can begin brainstorming sign concepts immediately after the workshops occur. Currently, we are preparing for the upcoming workshops by creating new materials that reflect the zoning and historic code in Covington. In order to receive a building permit, all signs must comply with both the City of Covington’s zoning and historic regulations. In addition, the signs must have building drawings stamped by a licensed engineer. One of the advantages of CoSign for a small business, is that we help them navigate this entire process with our team of experts. We have also identified some ways using technology to streamline the process for design submittal and applications.

We believe that CoSign has the most impact when there is a critical mass of signs in a concentrated area of a business district. So, how do we decide which blocks participate and which blocks do not? We always try to work with community members and the neighborhood business association. But, as we look to national expansion, how do we find the right individuals to help us make those decisions? With our project hinging on zoning codes, sometimes the answer is clear based on city building codes or a high concentration of businesses. But, in a new city or new neighborhood, it can be difficult sometimes to find the right person or people to make the best decisions for a community. As we work toward our goal of national expansion, we realize we will be strangers to the new CoSign communities and their  politics. It will be imperative that we find the correct person to be CoSign’s community liaison. People who live and work in the neighborhood or place are most effective at making these decisions about where to place new signage so that it will have the most impact..

Recent Wins

-- 22 businesses applied and were accepted to participate in CoSign Covington.

-- CoSign and the American Sign Museum were mentioned in National Geographic magazine

-- The program was featured in Soapbox Media


-- How do you engage individuals in creative placemaking initiatives that might not recognize the potential benefit?

-- When working with small business owners that are pulled in different directions and have competing priorities, how do we make the case that their time should be spent working with CoSign or another creative placemaking movement?