The Aux, which has been working on establishment since 2020 A space dedicated to empowering black businesses in Evanstonreceived $1.5 million from the State of Illinois. Now the black-owned business his hub is just $500,000 away from his $7.5 million funding target.
Tosha Wilson, co-founder of The Aux, said: “I think having that kind of support gives you a certain amount of trust.”
Black-owned businesses make up 11% of businesses in Illinois. The state recently began honoring these companies with Black Business Month each August. This includes events and initiatives such as Shop Black Owned Business His Saturdays that encourage customers to support Black retailers.
Wilson White and Jackie White, cousins and co-founders of The Aux, reached out to State Senator Laura Fine, State Representative Robin Gabel, and County Commissioner Larry Sufreddin to garner support.
Aux also spoke to state officials, who gave Aux $1.5 million through its financial agent, The Growing Season.
The Growing Season is a non-profit organization focused on community health. White and Wilson met Lori Laser, CEO of The Growing Season, when they were looking for ways to start their own business, Laundry Cafe, in his 5th Ward of Evanston in 2020.
Back in April, Evanston City Council Vote to donate $1 million to The Aux From the city’s allocation of federal American Recovery Program funds. Aux also received other significant donations. $500,000 from Mother Nursing homes and others $500,000 from the North Shore Community Investment Fund.
The Aux plans to open a store on the west side of Evanston at 2223 Washington Street in the fall of 2023. The 16,000-square-foot building was formerly a vegetable factory and will soon become the center of several black-owned businesses.
The Aux will be hosting a community equity launch event this fall. At this event, the group will define their equity plan and explain what investing in The Aux means.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved so far,” said Wilson. “There is only a little way left, and I hope people will join us in launching the equity.”