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Next Chapter is a new collaboration between the City of Evanston Economic Development Department, the Evanston Public Library and the local business community – its goal: Bringing Evanston residents who are starting and growing new businesses together with seasoned professionals who have valuable insights to share. Since March, Next Chapter has been bringing free seminars and classes to the Main Library.

Kathleen Lanigan, EPL librarian specializing in business information, said the response from lawyers, insurance specialists, finance experts, entrepreneurs and business-owners of all types to teach workshops or give talks has been enthusiastic. “Very quickly, we have 30 course proposals in hand. I’m very pleased with this initial response. We are scheduling programs and expect to learn a lot over the next few months about what works and doesn’t work for our local business community.”

Ed Perry led one of the first classes on the topic of “How to Be Self-Employed.” Accounting consultant Jean Cunningham offered a three-hour workshop on “Basic Introduction to Accounting for Small Businesses.”

Stelios Valavanis, founder and president of onShore Networks and Creative Coworking, will lead the next program, “Starting a Business Is a Bad Idea,” scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 30 at the Main Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

“Lots of people need help, encouragement and insights to get their businesses off the ground or to the next level. I’ve seen this since my wife, Angela, and I founded Creative Coworking. We’ve learned that people benefit from community,” said Mr. Valavanis.

Evanston Public Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons said, “Next Chapter is a commitment to provide new networks of community support and personalized relationships to help new businesses evolve in a strategic way. We’re hoping that this type of thoughtful support will contribute to the economic health of Evanston and help those who are nurturing the seeds of new businesses at their kitchen tables.”

Paul Zalmezak, the City of Evanston’s senior economic development coordinator, helped to develop the Next Chapter concept. The website is www.nextchapterevanston.com.