City organizers and prospective Legacy Business Program participants met at the Evanston Civic Center on September 29 to discuss the scope of the new initiative.
A program for both Celebrate and ensure long-term stability of established Evanston businesses and organizations under discussion for monthsCommunity members can nominate potential legacy businesses Via Google Forms.
Owners and representatives of Bennison’s Bakery, Hecky’s Barbecue, Chiropractic First, Belgian Chocolatier Piron and Cahill Plumbing attended last week’s conference. The meeting was designed to brainstorm ideas for the program and determine the amount of allocations requested from the city. Council in the future.
The city officials developing this group are: Conservation Commissioners Karl Klein and Susie Reinhold. Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmazek. and city planner Cade Sterling. Kelly, Klein, Reinhold and Sterling all attended the September 29th meeting.
“The business becomes part of people’s collective Evanston memory,” Sterling said at the conference. “…there are those who define the neighborhood with their business there.”
The program aims to honor Evanston’s long history of doing business and provide financial and/or strategic support to business owners who need it, Sterling said.
Kelly said the city has allocated $100,000 to start the program. Over the next few years, Sterling believes the $500,000 allocation will be enough to provide financial assistance to five to 10 companies and provide promotional services to other participants. said.
Companies are encouraged to nominate for the award, Kelly said. A business must have been in business for at least 20 years to be considered.
The potential assistance the program offers exactly is still up in the air. For example, participants talked about rental assistance, but it has not yet been decided what form it will take.
Sterling suggested the city could help business owners fighting difficult landlords and encourage those landlords to negotiate long-term leases.
However, Chiropractic First’s Meggie Smith says small business owners may have to use the possibility of going elsewhere to get consent from their landlords.
The group also discussed the possibility of direct financial assistance to business owners, but most agreed that the assistance would be a one-off, if it did materialize.
Reinhold predicted that the program’s financial resources would soon be depleted if long-term direct payment financial support was promised. Other forms of assistance may include mentoring services and business plan assistance.
Another key component of the program is promotional services for the community. We have already submitted proposal requests for design and web services. Group attendees on Sept. 29 saw sample promotional materials from a similar legacy program in San Francisco, including items such as plaques and tote bags.
Of the 31 companies proposed as legacy business participants, the majority were outside downtown, and many were not part of a business district organization like Downtown Evanston, Sterling said. He hopes the Legacy Business Program will draw attention to their work and help prepare as many businesses in the city as possible for the challenges of the future.