Evanston aldermen consider $50,000 grant for tech incubator

Rachel Janik, Reporter

The Evanston City Council met to discuss disbursement of $50,000 in grant funds to Technology Innovation Center Monday, following which members of the council expressed their shock and grief at the recent shooting death of Evanston Township High School freshman Dajae Coleman.

In Monday’s Planning and Development Committee meeting, an ordinance requiring that Evanston landlords obtain licenses to operate was introduced for future discussion. The meeting ran long and cut the council’s regular meeting short. As a result, the council postponed action on selecting a final project team to build an ice rink and community center in Crown Park, 1701 Main St., in addition to other agenda items.

During discussion of allocating grant funds to TIC, chairman Charles Happ stood before the council to talk about the success of the incubator’s programs in launching small businesses. He said that he hopes the grant would allow TIC to work toward a “more sustainable (financial) model” and become independent from public funding.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl added that the TIC-sponsored Mini Maker Faire — which she called “an indescribable event” — was a resounding success. The Mini Maker Faire was an August showcase of the work of local inventors and entrepreneurs.

“It was, I thought, marvelous, and it attracted some very promising businesses,” Tisdahl said.

During continuing discussion of TIC’s grant, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said she would vote in favor of  the incubator Monday night, but promised that it would be the last time if Northwestern didn’t agree to match the city’s contribution, as she said the University has in the past.

“It bothers me that the city of Evanston is the sole support for this organization,” Rainey said. “It bothers me terribly.”

She said that she would not vote for “a single penny more,” unless NU puts forward funds to support TIC in the future.

The approval passed 8-1, with the only dissenting vote coming from Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th).

After concluding the vote, the council moved on to the consent agenda and reports from standing committees.

Before adjourning for the night, aldermen recognized Saturday’s shooting death of 14-year-old ETHS student Dajae Coleman. Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) represents the ward where Coleman lived. He encouraged people to grieve in their own way, and stressed that community members support organizations like the YMCA and the YWCA, which help support children of the city.

“If there is anything I would ask of the community, it would be patience,” Braithwaite said. “There are many of us that are paying very close attention to what’s going on, and the police are working very diligently to make sure that we find justice in a situation like this.”

Tisdahl invited community members to attend a meeting to discuss nonviolence initiatives. It will be held on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. The location is yet to be determined, and Tisdahl said more details will be available on the city’s website soon.