Local organization provides voice for community, business owners in central Evanston


Bobby Pillote/The Daily Northwestern

Brigitte Giles, owner of Ebony Barber Shop, cuts the cake to celebrate the Central Evanston Business Association Open House. Giles, also the president of CEBA, said she believes the organization will help develop central Evanston.

Bobby Pillote, Assistant Sports Editor

Central Evanston has a new organization to represent the interests of its local businesses.

Store owners and community members gathered Monday at C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor, 1901 Church St., for the Central Evanston Business Association Open House, an event held to celebrate and promote the creation of the new group for storefronts in the area of Church Street and Dodge Avenue in Evanston.

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th), whose ward the area is located in, spoke briefly during the event to the assembled crowd.

“This is very exciting for me,” she said. “I’m happy to see CEBA come together … We’re here, we’re not going anywhere, we’re just getting bigger and better.”

The organization aims to unite community businesses and provide a voice to an area that CEBA secretary Christine Wolf said has long been neglected. Wolf elaborated that the area has received “undeserved” negative press in the past, and although there has been community involvement dedicated toward improvement, the area has suffered from not having a body that provides direction.

“The most important thing is when people come together, change will happen,” Wolf said. “It couldn’t be a better time.”

CEBA replaces the defunct Church/Dodge Merchants Association, which was dissolved in 2009, according to CEBA’s Facebook page. The previous group only represented businesses near the intersection of Church Street and Dodge Avenue. CEBA defines its boundaries as Simpson Street to the north, Church Street to the south, Ridge Avenue and Green Bay Road to the east and McCormick Boulevard to the west.

Despite the larger reach, many of the organization’s charter members, including C&W co-owner Clarence Weaver, said CEBA is more of a community group than a business partnership.

“We want to provide products to the community,” he said. “The key is creating a presence and creating an awareness we exist.”

Brigitte Giles, who owns Ebony Barber Shop, 1702 Dodge Ave., and serves as the president of CEBA, stressed the importance of creating positive publicity for central Evanston. She said her role in the organization is to bring businesses together to work with Holmes and the city.

She described the effect CEBA has already had on her business, saying the organization pushed Evanston to intervene when the Chicago Transit Authority planned to move a local bus stop from Church Street.

Reflecting its broader aims, CEBA has also partnered with Youth Organizations Umbrella and student-run Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development.

Y.O.U. special projects manager Sofia Porter-Castro (Weinberg ’14) said her organization partnered with CEBA because it is building a new facility in the area and wants to be a “good neighbor.” The group has a history in the area, having furnished the painting of a mural inside C&W.

LEND has also previously been involved in central Evanston. Medill senior Katherine Nagasawa, the group’s marketing and outreach director, said Giles was LEND’s first client.

McCormick senior Salil Gupta, LEND president, elaborated, saying the organization has lent to other central Evanston businesses in the past and wants to continue to grow its relationship with the region.

“We still want to solidify our foothold in the Evanston area and make sure people know about us,” he said.

According to its Facebook page, CEBA currently has just 21 members, but Weaver said he believes the organization can continue to grow.

“No doubt,” he said, “any organization takes some foundation layering first.”

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