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Aldermen doubt incubator’s performance

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Some Evanston aldermen signaled Monday that they're reluctant to continue providing money for the Technology Innovation Center unless it can show improved results.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said the center, headquartered at 820 Davis St., isn't generating enough new businesses that grow in the community.

Too many of the business incubator's tenants, she said, either aren't growing, or move out of Evanston as soon as they emerge from the incubator.

Burrus voted against the staff plan to provide $25,000 to the center for operations in the first quarter of this year.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she would vote for the grant, but that she hopes the city will wean the center from the need for city support soon.

She also expressed concern about the results achieved by the center, and said she'd seen one recently in Scottsdale, Ariz., that appears to be much more successful.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said he agreed with Grover and wants the council to review the center's performance in six months.

The funding extension ultimately was approved on a 7-1 vote.

The non-profit Technology Innovation Center was established in 1986 by Northwestern University and the city, but NU has not provided financial support to it in recent years.

It has come under criticism in the past for having a board dominated by the landlord who owns the buildings in which the center operates.

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