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Viewpoint: City focused on economic development

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Evanston has long been a vibrant, exciting place to live, work and shop. The strengths of the community have supported the strengths of the overall Evanston economy. With the national economy beginning to see the first signs of recovery, so is the City of Evanston.

Evanston has long been a vibrant, exciting place to live, work and shop. The strengths of the community have supported the strengths of the overall Evanston economy. With the national economy beginning to see the first signs of recovery, so is the City of Evanston.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and the Evanston City Council have identified economic development and economic revitalization as a primary goal for the city.

The City of Evanston’s Economic Development Division has been reformed and refocused to support the natural strengths of our community, to better coordinate our efforts with our economic development partners (the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Evanston, Evanston Inventure, Evanston Technology Innovation Center, Evanston Community Development Corporation and Evanston’s seven neighborhood business associations) and to focus on key areas throughout Evanston for revitalization.

To sustain an economically vibrant community in the future, Evanston must support its existing businesses to allow them to continue their successes, be welcoming to new businesses which wish to locate here and be strategic in developing new areas for business growth.

The city is supporting the development of new business associations on the Westside and along Howard Street as well as directly supporting revitalization efforts in these areas.

The city is also actively working to leverage the access that the El and Metra bring to Evanston by working to create new work and play opportunities adjacent to these transit stations.

Evanston is an attractive place for office workers coming from Chicago and the rest of the North Shore via public transit. A key to our future economic development successes is to grow our office developments beyond downtown to other parts of Evanston.

A key partner in all aspects of economic development in Evanston is Northwestern University. The city and Evanston Inventure are working closely with NU to support businesses through resources at the Kellogg School of Management as well as encouraging new businesses created by students and faculty to locate here in Evanston.  Collaboration between Evanston and NU is critical to future taxable business growth in our community.

So much is going on throughout Evanston. Let me share some details on several fronts:

Westside: Revitalization efforts here include support of the newly created West Village Business Association, continued support of the Dr. Hill Business Association, revitalization of the Evanston Plaza Shopping Center, development efforts to bring new businesses to Church and Dodge and infrastructure projects with the West Evanston Industrial Business District.

Howard Street: Merchants on Howard Street have formed a new Business Association to focus improvement efforts and the city has used TIF funds to purchase two parcels on the street to attract new retail and entertainment uses.

Central Street: The city is supporting existing businesses in their expansion efforts and attracting new businesses both east and west of Green Bay Road.

Chicago Avenue: The city is working with merchant groups at Dempster and Main Streets on events, infrastructure and attraction and retention efforts. Specific focus is on the development of an office building at Main and Chicago, an apartment complex at Kedzie and Chicago and retail opportunities throughout the entire corridor.

Downtown: Working with our partner, Downtown Evanston, the city is working on sustaining the existing events that bring residents and visitors downtown as well as keeping retail storefronts occupied with interesting shopping, dining and commercial businesses.

West Oakton: The city is working on the revitalization efforts on Oakton west of Dodge including the former City Recycling Center site and the vacant property across from the Home Depot.

The city’s economic development strategy covers the entire community. Efforts in traditional business areas compliment new efforts in non-traditional business areas in Evanston.

The non-traditional areas are perhaps the source of greatest opportunity for innovation and creativity. These non-traditional areas will require investments from the city, our economic development partners and the private sector.

Evanston offers everything residents and visitors want in a community with urban amenities, suburban comforts and small town charm. The City of Evanston is committed to enhancing our community through economic development to secure these qualities well into the future.

Nancy Radzevich is the economic development manager for the City of Evanston.

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