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The Evanston Community Development Corporation (ECDC) has announced a new initiative to support area businesses to improve and expand their operations. ECDC will provide loans to purchase new equipment and invest in capital improvements that increase business income and improve efficiency of operations.

ECDC chairman Bill Logan said “The recession has hurt every business. This new loan fund will help local firms to access the capital they need for new equipment at very low cost.” He continued, “[T]he detailed grant process helps prepare business-owners to qualify for future bank financing.”

Ebony Barbershop, the first recipient of an ECDC loan, is a second-generation full-service barbershop owned by Brigitte Giles, the daughter of long-time business-owner Marshall Giles. Ms. Giles brought fresh ideas and new customers to the shop and wanted to make an investment in the appearance of the shop to reflect her vision for the west side business.

“With much prayer, sweat, and tears, my dream of remodeling Ebony Barbershop has become a reality. These investments would not have been possible without ECDC,” said Ms. Giles.

Eric Dingle and his business, Best 1 Built, were ready to take on new projects when the City announced its receipt of NSPII funding, but his business lacked the necessary tools to compete successfully against larger businesses. ECDC’s loan committee members said they appreciated Mr. Dingle’s integrity in meeting his obligations and efforts to re-invent the business with a more sustainable approach. Best 1 Built is currently working with the City of Evanston on weatherization projects and plans to be ready soon to bid on NSPII contracting opportunities.

ECDC loan committee chair Michael Corr, said “The best way to support local contractors is to provide them with access to capital that would otherwise not be available to buy the equipment and tools they need to compete effectively. A loan for new equipment and mentoring to support a new business plan will help Best 1 Built re-establish and grow.”

ECDC’s microlending is funded in part by the Westside Tax Increment Financing District, North Shore Community Bank, and First Bank & Trust Evanston. Loans are offered at 0% interest with repayment over two years. Businesses are required to work with a business mentor during the loan term. A flat fee of $50 is required with the application. The maximum loan is $5,000. Any Westside business is eligible. Women and minority owned businesses throughout Evanston and other businesses located in Evanston CDBG target areas will also be considered.

Anyone wishing to obtain more information about ECDC a loan application may contact Precious Wright, ECDC program director, 847-756-0159 or pwright@evanstoncdc.com.