Evanston’s Economic Development Committee voted Wednesday night to support requests from five neighborhood business district groups for financial help from the city.
- The West End Business Association was backed for $8,685 for five new concrete planters and four-season plantings for all eight planters in the district.
- The Chicago-Dempster Merchants Association won support for $1,500 for plantings — but another $7,500 in requests for signage, holiday lights, website development and advertising were put on hold for further discussion at the committee’s June meeting.
- The Dr. Hill Businss Association was supported for $9,000 for garden and sculpture maintenance and plantings, banners and graphics, in connection with changing its name to the Hill Arts District.
- The Central Street Business Association won backing for $9,000 for planters, street banners and a design contest for the banners.
- The Main Street Merchants Association was endorsed for $9,000 to create a welcome packet to be mailed to new residents and to do social media and internet advertising.
All the proposals still require approval by the full City Council.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the Main Street proposal “is by far my favorite and the most effective proposal.”
She said that, with many new residents moving into the AMLI development on Chicago Avenue, the Chicago-Main merchants group has an opportunity to introduce its members to a lot of new potential customers.
Malik Turley, who presented the proposal for the Main Street group, said the project could be a pilot for a strategy that could be used by other business district next year.
Rainey criticized requests in some other proposals for funds for website development, and Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she thought city staff could develop website design templates that could be shared by the business districts, or that $30 a month could be enough to pay for a website and its design.
But Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said someone with some professional experitise is needed to put together a good website and he could appreciate the need for up-front money to pay for that.
The city has provided neighborhood business district grants for the past several years. The program is budgeted at $75,000 for this year, and two more groups are expected to make requests at next month’s EDC meeting.