Committee OKs funding source for program that will honor legacy businesses

Members of the city’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) took their biggest step yet forward in establishing a program honoring legacy businesses. Committee members voted at its Wednesday, July 27, meeting to allocate up to $100,000 in funding for the project.

Council member Clare Kelly (1st) proposed creating the program, which officials hope to use to retain long-standing Evanston businesses, which are long regarded as a key element in the city’s economic development strategy.

Hecky’s Barbecue owner Cheryl Judice speaks in support of a city Legacy business program at the July 27 Economic Development Committee meeting.
Credit: Bob Seidenberg

Under the program, the city would establish a Legacy Business Registry that would formally recognize contributions to the city by such businesses.

The proposed program could include a dedicated website with a business guide, the featured businesses and city recognition – such as a plaque, branding, window decal, an announcement from the Mayor or a combination of these, calling attention to the business.

Grants could run up to $25,000 per business, or $10,000 per property owner, officials suggested.

Hethrough ‘good and challenging times’

At the July 27 meeting, several owners of long-standing businesses spoke in favor of the program, including Cheryl Judice, the owner of Hecky’s Barbecue, 1902 Green Bay Rd. “When Hecky passed in May of 2020, I was tasked with following through on our plan to renovate the restaurant,” Judge told committee members.

“Hecky’s opened on October 13, 1982,” she said. “So it was well past time to update. This was a very costly venture.”

Judice said she appreciated the support the city has shown towards long-established businesses, which play a vital role, she said.

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