Thirteen businesses opened, relocated or expanded in Evanston during the second quarter of this year, but the vacancy rate for retail space rose.
A new report from the city’s economic development unit says most of the new businesses were retail shops or restaurants, but the city’s retail vacancy rate rose from 6.7 percent to 7.6 percent.
That vacancy rate was slightly higher than the rate in most other north shore communities but a shade lower than the rate in Chicago’s Loop.
The Evanston office vacancy rate dropped from 9.8 percent to 9.5 percent, while the industrial vacancy rate edged down from 10 percent to 9.9 percent.
Inquiries to the city from potential new businesses dropped, from 50 in the first quarter to 26 in the second quarter.
Eleven new businesses had opened in Evanston in the first quarter of the year, representing a reported private investment of just over $1 million. For the second quarter the estimated capital investment was $674,974.
The new or expanded businesses in the second quarter also created fewer new jobs — 29 full time and 54 part time — compared to 56 full time and 86 part time jobs in the first quarter.
The city issued 85 commercial building permits during the second quarter, up from 84 in the first quarter. But the value of the projects represented by the new permits fell to $6.2 million from $10.7 million.
The quarterly economic report series from the city starting in the fourth quarter of last year, so year-over-year compaisons are not yet available.
2nd Quarter Economic Report (.pdf)
1st Quarter Economic Report (.pdf)
Weak trends in Evanston
Not only is retail vacancy increasing but the unemployment rate in Evanston is also increasing.
In April the report shows 6.8%, May 7.3% and June 8.4% – not a good trend.
Also, if this report is to be of any value, it should also report on businesses that closed and jobs lost, not just on the "good" news of businesses opened and new jobs created.
Objectivity, thoroughness, and completeness should be expected from the City of Evanston, not just a superficial feel good brochure.
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