City Council grants marketing funding to support city businesses


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th). City Council granted Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes Evanston businesses, about $42,000 in funding.

Anika Mittu, Reporter

Evanston City Council granted Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau about $42,000 in funding for the period of July 2020 to June 2021 on Monday, a 50 percent decrease from 2019.

As a marketing service for North Shore businesses, the bureau has “worked diligently” to promote reopened hotels and restaurants, said Executive Director Gina Speckman. Speckman stressed the importance of funding as the city continues to battle COVID-19.

“We have a long road to come back to where we were before, and we are committed to the successful return of business to restaurants and hotels,” Speckman said. “Things are very compromised right now, but there is hope.”

Speckman said the bureau has eliminated membership restrictions, helping any restaurant who seeks assistance. To support Evanston hotels, Speckman said the bureau is working to increase business from smaller groups and family members visiting relatives.

Though pleased the potential funding decreased from their 2019 allocation, Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) said business owners she has spoken to have not mentioned a need for increased marketing and she would prefer to see funding go directly to businesses.

“I would much rather spend some if not all of that money in very tangible ways, like more economic development grants to businesses, allowing them to market themselves or use (the money) in another way,” Fleming said.

Fleming added she has not seen a tangible outcome from the bureau’s marketing in previous years.

Still, Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he supports funding for marketing after city businesses have faced months of financial hardship.

“This is the time we are going to need this marketing,” Wilson said. “While I don’t want to spend more money than we need to do, this seems like money well spent.”

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Twitter: @anika_mittu

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