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The Aux announced it has received $500,000 from NorthShore HealthSystem’s Community Investment Fund to build a thriving commercial space for Black-owned businesses focused on improving community wellness. As one of the first to partner with NorthShore through its investment fund, the businesses will work collaboratively to strengthen Black entrepreneurship and increase community access to wellness services by practitioners of color.
“We are very excited to partner with NorthShore and are grateful for their leadership in recognizing that wealth is health,” said Jacqui White, a long-time Evanston resident who is a Co-Developer of The Aux and Co-Founder of The Laundry Café. “The Aux gives Black folks the opportunity for economic development in Evanston that will continue to grow new entrepreneurs for years to come. We hope other partners will follow NorthShore’s lead in investing strongly in innovative initiatives in communities of color.”
NorthShore, including Swedish and Northwest Community Healthcare, selected The Aux as one of seven local organizations across Lake and Cook Counties to collaborate on programs that enhance health and wellbeing, advance health equity and support local economic growth. As a prominent feature of their recently finalized merger, NorthShore and Edward-Elmhurst Health each committed $100 million, which will generate millions of dollars annually, to benefit their respective communities.
“Business creation and innovation are keys to developing a thriving local economy, and The Aux serves as a pivotal catalyst for Black entrepreneurs, in particular, to build successful start-ups and small businesses, thereby generating local jobs in the process,” said Gabrielle Cummings, President of NorthShore Legacy Acute Care and Highland Park Hospital.
“We are business people seeking investments, taking risks, building community legacies, and making a path for other Black businesses to succeed,” said anchor tenant Tosha Wilson, a 20-year veteran and sergeant of the Evanston Police Department and Co-Founder of The Laundry Café.
The Aux will use the investment for major capital improvements to transform a vacant industrial building into more than 16,000 sq ft. of high-quality commercial space for Black-owned businesses and a vibrant community gathering space. The new wellness hub will serve all of Evanston and the surrounding Chicagoland area. It will become home to 10 to 12 tenant businesses, create 30-plus jobs, and support an expansive network of Black-owned pop-up businesses and vendor and supplier companies.
In addition to the economic impact, The Aux is focused on expanding access to a range of wellness services by practitioners of color.
“True holistic wellbeing is my passion, and I’m excited that The Aux provides a home for our community to improve not only their physical health, but their emotional, mental, spiritual and financial wellbeing,” said Tiffini Holmes, Co-Developer of The Aux and Co-Founder of Well Beings Chicago.
“Our Community Investment Fund is built on the principle that the more we connect and invest in our communities, the better we all become,” added Cummings. “We aim to be a true catalyst for change – putting our talents, unique capabilities and resources to work by collaborating with local organizations, like The Aux, through creative partnerships for the benefit or our communities.”