Daniel Biss.

In an effort to increase funding for its reparations program, Evanston officials are seeking to attract more cannabis dispensaries to town.

Mayor Daniel Biss last month sent letters to the nearly 120 businesses issued new conditional adult use dispensing licenses for the Chicago region offering city help in finding space for a new dispensary here and indicating that tax increment financing “may be available to assist with leasehold improvements.”

The city’s economic development manager, Paul Zalmezak, says so far one business owner has replied, indicating an interest in conducting additional research on the Evanston market.

The letter included a map showing zoning districts where dispensaries might be located — and marking the 500 foot exclusion area around schools.

The map also indicates a 1,500 foot exclusion area around the existing Zen Leaf dispensary on Maple Avenue, but Zalmezak says social equity applicants issued licenses by the state may be able to locate within that zone.

The city has pledged to spend the first $10 million in revenue from the 3% municipal tax on cannabis sales on the reparations program — and had hoped that money would pour in at a rate of $1 million a year.

But so far, with only one dispensary in town, the local cannabis tax revenue has fallen far short of that goal.

Properties available for rent in the eligible zones include several on Central, Dempster and Main streets and on Chicago Avenue.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I think this is fine and the city should do a better job of trying to help pot shops owned by minorities, instead of the big corporate owned pot shops that are popping up everywhere. The state tried to do it and really dropped the ball, I’d like to see Evanston do a better job at helping small businesses run by folks in our community instead of some bros in California.

    See: https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/cannabis-sales-are-raking-in-billions-in-illinois-but-black-and-brown-entrepreneurs-are-still-in-limbo-with-license-delays/

  2. Evanston does not need more pot shops…one is enough as evidenced by the lack of funds that the Mayor and Council want to increase. Don’t be dumb, opening 5 or more pot shops is not going to increase the amount of money Evanston takes in. The small business drives America, as someone has pointed out there used to be really great places to eat in Evanston now most of the places have gone and we are left with fast food, take out, etc. If the City enforces the laws we have, and encourage small business Evanston may turn civil again.

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