The Evanston Community Development Corporation has begun making small loans to west side businesses to purchase new equipment and invest in capital improvements that increase business income.

Ebony Barber Shop, 1702 Dodge Ave.

The Evanston Community Development Corporation has begun making small loans to west side businesses to purchase new equipment and invest in capital improvements that increase business income.

Ebony Barber Shop, 1702 Dodge Ave.

The first recipient of an ECDC loan, Ebony Barbershop, is a second-generation, full-service barbershop. Now owned by Brigitte Giles, the shop was founded by her father, Marshall Giles.

Brigitte Giles was a barber in Georgia when her dad became ill. She returned to Evanston to fill in for him and ultimately decided to take ownership of the west side shop.

She brought fresh ideas and new customers to the shop and wanted to make an investment in the appearance of the building to reflect her vision for the west side business.

The interior of the shop after the remodeling.

She approached ECDC for a loan to renovate the shop. ECDC responded with funding for new flooring to replace the cracked linoleum and assistance in finding additional funding for new lighting and other enhancements. “With much prayer, sweat, and tears, my dream of remodeling Ebony Barbershop has become a reality. These investments would not have been possible without ECDC,” Giles says.

ECDC Chairman Bill Logan says, “The recession has hurt every business. This new loan fund will help local firms to access the capital they need for new equipment at very low cost.”

He added that the detailed application process helps prepare business owners to qualify for future bank financing.”

When housing was booming in Evanston so was Best 1 Built, but as the housing industry suffered so did Eric Dingle’s business.

To satisfy creditors, Dingle sold his tools to stay afloat. When Evanston was awarded a federal grant to rehab foreclosed properties, Dingle was ready to take on new projects, but his business lacked the necessary tools to compete successfully against larger firms.

Dingle approached ECDC for a loan for new equipment. ECDC’s loan committee recognized his integrity in meeting his obligations and efforts to re-invent the business with a more sustainable approach.

Best 1 Built is currently working with the City of Evanston on weatherization projects but will soon be ready to bid on contracting opportunities under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant.

ECDC loan committee chair Michael Corr said, “The best way to support local contractors is to provide them with access to capital that would otherwise not be available to buy the equipment and tools they need to compete effectively. A loan for new equipment and mentoring to support a new business plan will help Best 1 Built re-establish and grow.”

ECDC’s microlending is funded in part by the Westside Tax Increment Financing District, North Shore Community Bank and First Bank & Trust Evanston.

Loans are offered at zero percent interest with repayment over two years. All businesses are required to work with a business mentor during the loan term. A flat fee of $50 is required with the application. The maximum loan is $5,000. Any west side business is eligible. Women and minority owned businesses throughout Evanston and other businesses located in Evanston CDBG target areas will also be considered.

The Evanston Community Development Corporation was established as a nonprofit community based organization in 2003 in response to the interest in development and redevelopment of the city’s west side. For more information contact ECDC’s program director, Precious Wright at 847-756-0159 or pwright@evanstoncdc.com.

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