Incentive Programs


Maple Street in Downtown Evanston

The City of Evanston has established Business Incentives to assist local existing business businesses and welcome new businesses to the City.

Storefront Modernization Program
Economic Development Assistance Application
Small Business Workforce Development Program
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts
Minority, Women and Evanston Business Enterprise Development Committee (M/W/EBE)
Cook County Programs
State of Illinois Programs
Additional Resources

Storefront Modernization Program

The Economic Development Division administers the City of Evanston’s Storefront Modernization Program (formerly Facade Improvement Program). The intent of the Program is to improve the appearance of the street-facing exteriors of commercial buildings located throughout the City of Evanston and encourage development in targeted business districts and sectors by providing assistance for interior build-out.

The program encompasses two types of assistance: facade improvements, which are available to any qualifying business in Evanston regardless of the location or type of business; and interior build-out assistance, which is limited to retail goods establishments OR to any business located along targeted corridors specified in the program guidelines.

  • Program Materials:

Storefront Modernization Program Guidelines and Program Agreement 
Application Form
Facade & Sign Design Guidelines

  • Completed Facade Improvement Program Projects:

Please take a look at some of our successful completed programs before and after photos provided by clicking on the name of each business:

Another Time, Another Place - 1243 Chicago Avenue
As You Like It – 827 Chicago Avenue
Bagel Art - 615 Dempster Street
Central Street Cafe – 2800 Central Street
EGEA Spa - 1521 Sherman Avenue
Evanston Festival Theatre – 600 Main Street
IRMCO – 2117 Greenleaf Street
Koi – 624 Davis Street
Minasian Rug Company – 1244 Chicago Avenue
Oceanique – 505 Main Street
Stratosphere Networks – 1732 Central Street
604 – 606 Davis Street Building
See Jane Sparkle – 817 A Chicago Avenue
Unicorn Cafe – 1723 Sherman Avenue

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General Economic Development Assistance

The City of Evanston’s Economic Development Division reviews all applications for tax increment financing (TIF), Economic Development Fund assistance, and Community Development Block Grant Funds (Economic Development-based activities). The request for financial assistance is a multi-step process, this is outlined in the Economic Development Funding Application.  After reviewing the request for funding, contact the Economic Development Division for more information.

 Application for Financial Assistance

Small Business Workforce Development Program

The Evanston Small Business Workforce Development Program is designed to educate and train individuals to meet the needs of current and future business and industry in order to maintain a sustainable competitive economic environment. This program will support individuals in “earn and learn” workforce development models in eight target areas that are based upon the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (“Partnership”) – “Where are the jobs in Cook County?” 2015 Report.  These areas would form the foundation of a City of Evanston supported workforce development program.  They are:  1) IT, 2) Sales, 3) Business & Financial, 4) Healthcare, 5) Office & Administrative, 6) Transportation, 7) Food Service, and 8) Manufacturing.

Earn and learn strategies help employers to address skill shortages by training new workers in job specific skills and protocols while receiving partial reimbursement for employee wages.  Employers are able to hire employees based upon fit and attitude, and employees are able to earn a wage as they train.  This model benefits the public by investing tax dollars into local businesses and citizens. Program participants are eligible to receive a rebate upon the competition of their approved workforce development program followed by job placement of the trainee. The rebate is in the form of a grant.

If you are an Evanston-based business in one of the eight industries, have a demonstrated capacity to provide on the job training and a clearly defined training job placement plan upon completion of training, please review the program guidelines and apply through the links below:

City of Evanston Small Business Workforce Development Program Guidelines

Small Business Workforce Development Program Application Form

Small Business Workforce Development Program Reimbursement Request Form (after trainees have completed training program)

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District

The City of Evanston administers Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts that capture incremental real estate taxes generated by new development to be reinvested into the TIF Districts for uses established in compliance with State of Illinois statutes state law.

This economic development financing tool was created by state statute to enable municipalities to finance desired economic development. This occurs through a TIF by the municipality recapturing all new real estate tax revenue generated by new development within the TIF boundaries. This new or incremental revenue can be reinvested into the TIF in eligible projects for eligible uses. The use of TIF incremental revenue makes possible development or redevelopment that would not otherwise be feasible, but for the TIF assistance provided to the development.

Eligible uses for TIF funds include: property acquisition; rehab or renovating existing buildings in the TIF District; construction or improvement of capital improvements; relocation; financing costs; studies and surveys; marketing sites within the TIF district; professional services such as architectural, engineering, and legal; demolition and site preparation.

  • TIF District Maps, Ordinances, and Redevelopment Plans - 

TIF Overview Map

1.  Downtown TIF  (Map TIF 1)  Closed TIF

2.  Southwest  (Map TIF 2)  (Ordinances)  (Redevelopment  Plan)

3.  Howard and Hartrey  (Map TIF 3)  (Ordinances)  (Redevelopment Plan)

4.  Washington National  (Map TIF 4)  (Ordinances)  (Redevelopment Plan)

5.  Howard and Ridge  (Map TIF 5)  (Ordinances)  (Redevelopment Plan)

6.  West Evanston  (Map TIF 6)  (Ordinances)  (Redevelopment Plan)

7.  Dempster Dodge (Map TIF 7)  (Ordinances)  (Redevelopment Plan)

8.  Chicago Main  (Map TIF 8)  (Ordinances)  (Redevelopment Plan)

Please Click Here for additional TIF information.


  • Joint Review Board

A Joint Review Board (JRB) is initially established when a new Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) is under consideration and makes a recommendation to the City Council. The JRB is composed of members representing certain taxing districts which are affected by the TIF. The Joint Review Board meets annually to discuss the annual report filed with the State of Illinois on each of the TIF Districts within the city.

In order to learn more about the Joint Review Board and view previous meeting agendas and minutes please click here.

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Minority, Women and Evanston Business Enterprise Development Committee (M/W/EBE)

The City has a 25% Minority-Owned, Women-Owned, and Evanston-based business (M/W/EBEs) participation goal for all contracts of $20,000 or more.

Contractors or consultants seeking to respond to an Invitation to Bid, a Request for Proposal, Request for Qualifications or to learn more information about this program please click here.

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Cook County Programs

For more information please visit: Cook County Bureau of Economic Development
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State of Illinois Programs 

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is the lead agency for the state in programs concerning job creation, retention and economic development.  Its goal is to provide a foundation for the economic prosperity of the state, through the coordination of business recruitment and retention, infrastructure building and job training efforts, and administration of state and federal grant programs. Below you will find many of the DCEO programs that business owners might be able to use to create jobs.

If you are interested in applying for any of the state grants administered by DCEO please contact City of Evanston Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator Ylda Capriccioso at (847) 488-8032 or at


Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP)

ETIP is a competitive application program for Illinois based manufacturers and service companies to facilitate upgrading the skills of their workers in order to remain current in new technologies and business practices.   Participation in the program will enable companies to remain competitive, expand into new markets and introduce more efficient technologies into their operations. Grants may be awarded to individual businesses, intermediary organizations operating multi-company training projects and original equipment manufacturers sponsoring multi-company training projects for employees of their Illinois supplier companies. This program is for companies with less than 250 employees. ETIP can pay up to half of the costs associated with training.


Business Development Public Infrastructure Program (BDPIP)

The BDPIP program provide grants to units of local government for public improvements on behalf of businesses undertaking a major expansion or relocation project that will result in substantial private investment and the creation/retention of a large number of Illinois jobs.  The infrastructure improvements must be made for public benefit and on public property and must directly result in the creation or retention of private sector jobs.  The local government must demonstrate clear need for financial assistance to undertake the improvements.  Grant eligibility and amounts are determined by the amount of investment and job creation or retention involved.


Large Business Development Program (LBDP)

The LBDP program is designed to provide grants to businesses undertaking a major expansion or relocation project that will result in substantial private investment and the creation and/or retention of a large number of Illinois jobs.  Funds available through the program may be used by large businesses for bondable business activities, including financing the purchase of land or buildings, building construction or renovation, and certain types of machinery and equipment.  Grant eligibility and amounts are determined by the amount of investment and job creation or retention involved.

    • Grants to businesses for major expansion or relocation resulting in private investment & retention of jobs, land purchase or building construction or renovation, and machinery 


Illinois Department of Transportation Economic Development Program

Administered through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the EDP program is designed to provide state assistance to local governments for highway improvements and access to new or expanding industrial distribution and tourism development projects.  The state may provide up to 50 percent matching (grant) funds to local governments for eligible public roadway related construction and engineering items.  Projects involving private roadways, retail development, office parks, government facilities, and school/universities are not eligible for funding. Each year the department sets aside $10 million for the program.


Tax Assistance

Edge Development for Growing Economy Tax Credit

The EDGE program is designed to offer a special tax incentive to encourage companies to locate or expand operations in Illinois when there is active consideration of a competing location in another State. The program can provide tax credits to qualifying companies, equal to the amount of state income taxes withheld from the salaries of employees in the newly created jobs. The non- refundable credits can be used against corporate income taxes to be paid over a period not to exceed 10 years.  To qualify a company must provide documentation that attests to the fact of competition among a competing state, and agree to make an investment of at least $5 million in capital improvements and create a minimum of 25 new full time jobs in Illinois.  For a company with 100 or fewer employees, the company must agree to make a capital investment of $1 million and create at least 5 new full time jobs in Illinois.

    • Designed to offer special tax incentives to companies when active consideration of a location Illinois versus other states
    • State income tax credit used against corporate tax rate
    • $5,000,000 or 25+ new jobs in Illinois
    • For companies less than $1,000,000 needs to equate to 5 full-time jobs


High Impact Businesses

The HIB program is designed to encourage large-scale economic development activities, by providing tax incentives (similar to those offered within an enterprise zone) to companies that propose to make a substantial capital investment in operations and will create or retain above average number of jobs. Businesses may qualify for: investment tax credits, a state sales tax exemption on building materials, an exemption from state sales tax on utilities, a state sales tax exemption on purchases of personal property used or consumed in the manufacturing process or in the operation of a pollution control facility. The project must involve a minimum of $12 million investment causing the creation of 500 full-time jobs or an investment of $30 million causing the retention of 1500 full-time jobs. The investment must take place at a designated location in Illinois outside of an Enterprise Zone.

    • Large scale economic development opportunities outside of Enterprise Zones
    • $12,000,000 in investment or 500 FTE’s


Technology Grants and Programs

Emerging Technology Enterprise Grant Program


The goal of the Emerging Technological Enterprises Program is to provide grants, loans, and other investments to emerging technology enterprises to support and encourage: (i) commercialization of technology based products and services; (ii) technology transfer projects involving the promotion of new or innovative technologies; or (iii) research and development projects to respond to unique, advanced technology projects and which foster the development of Illinois’ economy through the advancement of the State’s economic, scientific, and technological assets.


Advantage Illinois

Advantage Illinois will accelerate investments and ease the credit crunch for small businesses, thanks to more than $78 million from the federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Advantage Illinois consists of several programs to spur institutional lending to small businesses and one program to leverage private venture capital in start-ups and high-growth businesses. This institutional lending program has four components to mitigate lender risk through the use of DCEO-provided subordinated debt.


The Invest Illinois Venture Fund (IIVF)

IIVF is a venture capital program seeking to support young, innovative companies, and start-ups that show a high potential for future growth resulting in the creation of high-paying professional Illinois jobs. This program will leverage private venture capital in start-ups and high-growth businesses. It will speed commercialization of research discoveries in high-growth sectors. Typical awards are under $1M and/or 25% equity. It is not expected that each applicant will request the maximum amount of funds available. Awards will be in the form of equity or convertible debt. Proceeds from the IIVF can be used for many business purposes, including, but not limited to: start-up costs, working capital, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory, and the purchase, construction, renovation, or tenant improvements of an eligible place of business that is not for passive real estate investment purposes


Illinois Angel Investment Credit Program

The Illinois Angel Investment Credit Program is designed to offer a tax credit to interested firms or natural person(s) who make an investment in one of Illinois’ innovative, qualified new business ventures. The investment will encourage job growth and expand capital investment in Illinois. The program can offer a tax credit to qualifying firms in an amount equal to 25% of their investment made directly in a qualified new business venture. The maximum amount of an investment that may be used as the basis for a credit under this section is $2,000,000 for each investment directly in a qualified new business venture.

    • Fewer than 100 employees and not in operation for more than 10 years
    • Headquartered in Illinois with at least 51% of employees in Illinois
    • Has potential for increasing jobs or capital in Illinois
    • Has NOT received more than $10,000,000 in private equity investment or $4,000,000 in investments that qualified for tax credits


Small Business Jobs Creation Tax Credit

The Illinois Small Business Jobs Creation Tax Credit program provides small business owners and non-profits with an extra boost to grow their business over the next four years. After creating one or more new, full-time positions that meet the eligibility requirements, small businesses can register online to receive a $2,500 per job tax credit. The program officially went live on July 1, 2012. This is for new jobs created July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2016.

    • Eligible jobs are those that pay at least $10/hour or $18,200/annually and the position must be sustained for one full year from the hire date.

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Additional Resources 

City of Evanston Sustainability Programs
ComEd Programs & Incentives
LEND - Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development
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View on City of Evanston Website