Three Evanston businesses qualify for Chase grant consideration

Julia Jacobs, Reporter

Three Evanston businesses qualified Friday to be considered for a $150,000 grant from Chase Bank.

Through the Mission Main Street Grants, Chase awards 20 for-profit small businesses nationwide a total of $3 million each year. Between Sept. 3 and Oct. 17, applicants had to amass at least 250 votes to be considered by a panel of entrepreneurs for the grant.

In addition to the $150,000 grant, benefits include a free workshop with small business experts from Google, $2,000 toward a Google market research study and a Google Chromebook.

Out of the 15 Evanston businesses that applied, Akemi Fitness Method studio, which offers dance-based alternative workout classes, is one of three that made it to the next round. Owner Jocelyn Davis said she would use the grant money to open a larger studio, hire more instructors and promote holistic health by bringing in a dietitian to consult with clients. Davis said her more distant goals include expanding outside of Evanston and creating her own fitness app.

“This could be the chance of a lifetime to really take my dream to the next level,” Davis said.

Amy Dale, owner of Green Edens Horticultural Services Inc., another Evanston business that qualified, said she would use part of the grant to rent a new home for her 3-year-old business. Additionally, Dale would hire an employee to help her manage the company, as well as build greenhouses that could serve as classrooms for her to teach locals how to grow their own organic food.

“One of the biggest reasons why I’m in this is to bring community together,” Dale said.

Dale said Green Edens has taken off without the help of advertisement, thriving purely off satisfied customers spreading their pro-environment mission to friends and family.

Similarly, MESTRENGTH Inc., a plant-based sports mix drink company and the third business to qualify for the grant, garnered 262 votes in 10 days entirely through word of mouth, CEO Sam Potter said. The mission of MESTRENGTH is to provide an alternative to sugar and calorie-filled sports drinks to help people pursue a healthier lifestyle, he said. The grant would allow the company to amplify its marketing strategy by hiring a full-time salesperson, as well as a local firm to help boost its social media presence.

“A grant of this size would help fund the business for years to come,” Potter said. “It wouldn’t just be us buying a new piece of equipment and that’s it, or building a slightly larger space. It would truly be game-changing for us.”

In the past two years of Mission Main Street Grants, no Illinois business has been chosen as a recipient. Chase will announce this year’s winners in January.

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