Evanston’s City Council next month is expected to award a contract to a local design firm to develop a website to promote long-time businesses in the city.

The Economic Development Committee recommended approval of the $47,300 contract with Glantz Design last week.

Glantz has done logo and web design work for a variety of local businesses and institutions over the years — including Garrett Seminary, the Evanston Public Library, the Main Dempster Mile special service area and Hagerty Consulting.

The legacy business program has been pushed by Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) and has a $100,000 line item in this year’s city budget.

Under Kelly’s concept any business established here for more than 20 years would be eligible to participate in the program. She estimated that more than 200 businesses would qualify and 32 are planned to be part of a pilot phase of the program.

Kelly called the proposed website “Wonderful, wonderful,” and said it is “really captivating” to hear the stories of the various long-time businesses.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said he wanted to see what measurable impact the promotional campaign would have.

“Is this something that just feels nice and looks nice, or actually helping to retain businesses by driving traffic to them?” he asked.

Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak said the city also plans to design “really unique plaques” that could be displayed outside the legacy businesses, but that that might not happen until next year.

The contract proposal from Glantz envisions having the new website launch this spring.

The committee voted unanimously in favor of the contract.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. Are Target, Best Buy, or McDonald’s eligible for this grant? If not, why not?

      Better still, why are we giving taxpayer money away to any business?

      1. So far this particular program is not giving money away to businesses (except to the company building the website for the program), although other city programs do.

  1. If the city wants to support businesses, especially downtown, then why not get rid of the parking meters or look at any other onerous rules and regulations that make doing business here difficult? Two restaurants could be neighbors, and the older one gets the benefit of this program while the other one doesn’t? What if the newer one has better food and better service? Let the free market dictate which businesses survive and which ones fail. The City needs to butt out.

  2. It is great to see the city support local businesses, and the team at Glantz does excellent work. However the base strategy of building a new site (in addition to the web pages for all the businesses, their Yelp, Google, franchisor, and other pages), etc does not create a ton of traffic or value that is new. Additionally, building such a site for success requires ongoing commitment of resources (staff plus marketing spend).

    I would think a more productive effort could be building a digital community helping each of the businesses be successful in what is needed online.

  3. This is both a business retention tool and a preservation/oral history effort from what I can tell. Based on the RFP, the website should look something similar to San Antonio’s program, which markets businesses, but also acts as a depository for their history and identity. Also to address some of the comments above, based on the criteria I see on the Economic Development website, age is only one factor, so no, businesses like Best Buy and Target would not qualify. Also I don’t see any mention of giving money to these businesses, simply recognizing them, giving them some unique promotional tools, and creating a database with their history and significance to the City documented and accessible for all. Sounds great.

  4. Again, using the wrong solution for a business problem. Agree with Reid 100%. We need some way to measure and track financial impact from this program. Paul Zalmacek seems to think aesthetic design, marketing and storytelling will solve revenue issues. No plaque will be able to do that! No matter how magnificent it is.

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