With commercial vacancy rates starting to trend down from pandemic highs, Evanston’s Economic Development Committee Wednesday night will consider several business-stimulation proposals.

The proposals include one from Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) to spend $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide grants to help with the cost of capital and operational expenses.

Projects that might qualify under the proposal include rehabilitation of commercial properties, payment of debts incurred during the pandemic and money to fund business growth plans.

The committee will also consider a proposal from Sustainability and Resilience Coordinator Cara Pratt on how to spend the $250,000 that City Council included in the 2023 city budget to help businesses carry out projects that would help meet the goals of the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan.

And the committee will consider whether the city should extend pandemic-era measures that let restaurants expand their seating space into some parkway and roadway areas, and, if so, what the city should charge for the space rental.

Finally, the committee is scheduled to get a look at a first draft of the Evanston Thrives Retail District Action Plan being prepared by a consulting firm for the city.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Room 2404 at the Civic Center and will also be accessible online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Sounds like they want to put a bandaid on a self-inflicted wound. Business’s can’t make it downtown if costs are too high and they don’t have the foot traffic. We won’t have the foot traffic if people don’t feel safe, they have to pay for parking, and they are surrounded by vacant storefronts. Address the real problems city council, but I don’t think many are qualified and some seem to be completely anti-business.

    4th ward resident

  2. IMO *no* amount of monetary aid to local businesses will achieve *anything*, since Evanston so clearly has a very hostile anti – business agenda…

    Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

    1. Subsidize Panhandlers and provide them free rent in downtown apartments. Then force merchants to do business in cash… Why are the stores closing? It’s a mystery.

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