Doing Business in Downtown Evanston
Downtown Evanston is the commercial center for Chicago’s North Shore, with one-of-a kind shops, a diverse mix of restaurants, first-class office space, and luxury condominiums. The area has experienced unprecedented development and redevelopment within the last two decades. Many projects have included both residential and retail components, resulting in the construction of more than 4,300 condo units since 2000, and over 500 rental units. 

Even in the wake of the pandemic, the downtown remains a vital and vibrant workforce center, employing thousands of people and supporting hundreds of businesses. Evanston is proud to be the World Headquarters of Rotary International, and the Downtown is also home to Accuity, Acquirent, ZS Associates, Magnetar Capital, UL Research Institutes, UL Standards & Engagement, and other major companies. In addition, Evanston Labs is a new private Class-A office & laboratory building opening in summer 2024. 

Easily accessible via the CTA's Purple Line and Metra's UP-North Line, many daily commuters use these transit systems as their primary form of transportation to and from their work in Evanston and the surrounding communities. Downtown is adjacent to the Northwestern University campus, and offers easy access to the beaches and trails along Lake Michigan. Downtown is also conveniently located just 40 minutes from O’hare International Airport and 60 minutes from Midway International Airport, making Evanston attractive to regional and international travelers.

Business owners are served and support by the Downtown Evanston SSA (Special Service Area), which manages, markets and maintains the central business district, operating as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization. In addition to the efforts of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, the City of Evanston’s Economic Development team has created an economic development work plan that focuses on creative placemaking, entrepreneurship development, and growth oriented startups, as well as retail attraction and retention. These three entities all work closely together on a routine basis to ensure that Downtown Evanston provides the infrastructure and economic environment that local businesses need to succeed.

Evanston Facts
  • The City of Evanston grew up around Northwestern University and was renamed for physician John Evans in 1857, who was one of Northwestern's founders.
  • Evanston is located 12 miles north of Downtown Chicago, bordered by Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, Wilmette to the north, and Lake Michigan to the east.
  • The current population is about 75,000.
  • The largest Evanston racial/ethnic groups are White (58.4%) followed by Black (16.1%) and Hispanic (11.3%).