Five local business associations received grants from the City’s Economic Development Fund to foster economic growth in their business districts. The individual business groups are planning to hold holiday and other celebrations to attract new patrons and to distribute coupon books and other information about their members and neighborhood businesses.

The Chicago-Dempster Merchants Association (CMDA) received $9,000, conditioned upon their obtaining additional quotes for goods and services. Representatives of CMDA say the money will be used for planter plantings, CMDA and Young Evanston Artists banners, advertising for the Downtown Evanston sidewalk sale and the purchase and installation of snowflakes for the 2012 holiday season.

The Main Street Merchants Association, composed of businesses along Main Street and Chicago Avenue, says it will spend its $7,300 merchant grant for coupon book and website maintenance

This award was also conditioned upon the association’s providing to City staff additional estimates for the proposed work.

Members of the Dr. Hill Business Association have been working to make that district known as the “Evanston Arts District.” The area is roughly the Simpson/Ashland/Payne area immediately west of Green Bay Road. The “Generations” sculpture and garden, at the intersection of Noyes Street and Green Bay Road, marks an entrance to the district and is maintained by the Dr. Hill Business Association. The association received a $9,000 Great Merchants Program to maintain the sculpture and garden, install planters and plantings and to hold three events: “Evanston’s West Side Story IV”, “Dogs on Parade” and “Bridezilla.”

“Evanston’s West Side Story IV,” a neighborhood open house of all the local artists and businesses in the area, is being planned for Arts Week. “Dogs on Parade,” according to the association, “will introduce the new ‘dogcentric’ businesses in the neighborhood, along with the numerous photographers and videographers at work in the Arts District. ‘Bridezilla’ will continue to promote the photographers and videographers specializing in wedding work and also include the pastry chefs and caterers, clothing designers and Now We’re Cookin’ and Excel Lofts event spaces.”

The City Council also awarded $7,000 to the Howard Street Business Association (HSBA), $2,000 less than was requested. The association will use the funds for spring and fall plantings, website development and replacement of its holiday lights with LED lights.

The West Village Business Association, in the Florence/Crain/Dempster area, received $9,000 to foster business development, also conditioned upon their providing to City staff additional information, costs and estimates for proposed work. The association says it plans to create a promotional booklet to “better showcase the Evanston West Village businesses and events and activities hosted by the business district.” Monies remaining from the creation of the booklet will be used to fund a second “Makin’ it Happen Festival.”

No money has been awarded to Central Street merchants as yet, because there are is a second prospective merchant group, the Central Street East Business Association, in addition to the established Central Street Business Association.

The West End Business Association, in the Hartrey/Greenleaf area, asked the Economic Development Committee for a continuation of the discussion of their grant application to allow the association to address concerns expressed by EDC members about its application. EDC members are expected to discuss the matter at its Jan. 25 meeting.

City staff recommended that merchant groups planning to use the money for website upgrade and maintenance pool their resources and hire a single contractor for those activities. In those cases, the City designated $1,000 to the associations to be used for that purpose.

“Generations,” a sculpture on the tiny island at Green Bay Road and Noyes Street, was commissioned and is maintained by the Dr. Hill Business Association.