About Us & FAQ

Evanston Chamber of Commerce is proud to be the voice of the Evanston business community. Founded in 1921, Evanston Chamber is the only member-based business association supporting all of Evanston.

Evanston Chamber provides programs, services, and leadership opportunities to help its 300+ dues-paying member businesses thrive. Evanston Chamber of Commerce features a broad and diverse array of business types across a variety of industries including, but not limited to: retail, food & beverage, hospitality, healthcare, education, manufacturing, real estate, finance, insurance, professional services, construction, design, and not-for-profit.

As a 501c6 business association, Evanston Chamber is an independent non-government entity focused on furthering the goals of the Evanston business community. Although Evanston Chamber works closely with many governmental bodies, it receives no regular public funding and is not directly affiliated with the City of Evanston nor is it part of the local government.

Evanston Chamber is led by a volunteer Board of Directors and various committees made up of representatives from its member businesses that steer the organization’s initiatives and programs. Evanston’s Chamber’s office is administered by a small full-time staff.

While membership in the Evanston Chamber is voluntary, it reflects a commitment to advance the success of the individual company/organization and the Evanston business community as a whole.


What is a Chamber of Commerce?

A chamber of commerce is a membership-based business association whose goal is to further the interest of businesses. Chambers of commerce are independent non-governmental organizations and may cover geographies or regions (individual municipalities, communities, business districts, states, metropolitan areas, countries) or special interests (specific trade industries, ethnic groups, etc.)

All chambers of commerce differ in terms of programmatic offerings and primary areas of focus. Many large/regional chambers of commerce focus on advocacy, policy, or pro-business lobbying. While smaller chambers of commerce (municipalities or business districts) tend to focus on providing communal amenities like marketing, advertising, meeting space, networking, and organizing events or festivals.

In the United States, chambers of commerce are typically listed as 501c6 not-for-profits that are exempt from federal taxes but usually pay state, local, and sales taxes. Chambers of commerce derive most of their income from membership fees and revenue from events, sponsorship, and advertising.

Some chambers of commerce may receive partial government funding for participating in economic development, tourism promotion (CVBs), or business improvement districts (known as SSAs in Illinois).


What does Evanston Chamber of Commerce do?

Evanston Chamber provides programs, events, and advocacy for its dues paying members.

Chamber members may take advantage of increased visibility through Evanston Chamber’s website, web calendar, job opening page, e-newsletter, social media feeds, print/digital member directories, maps, and other publications throughout the year. Evanston Chamber hosts regular business networking events for its members (such as Happy Hour and Networking Breakfast) and signature events such as MashUp, the Annual Awards, and the Summer Social & Golf Outing. Registration for many Evanston Chamber events and programs may also be available to non-members for a price.

In addition to marketing & programs, Evanston Chamber has active committees that meet to discuss other topics such as membership and business advocacy.


How can I get involved in Evanston Chamber?

Get involved in Evanston Chamber by becoming a member, attending events, and participating in committees. Maybe after participating in some committees and getting involved, you’d make a good fit by serving on Evanston Chamber’s Board of Directors.


How does Evanston Chamber help my business?

Membership to Evanston Chamber is just like your gym membership. It only pays off if you show up and use it!

Don’t just sit at home and assume the Chamber is automatically going to generate new leads for you, or step in to save your business during hard times (we are not superheroes, unfortunately). For Chamber membership to be worth your while you have to SHOW UP and GET INVOLVED.

Here are a couple easy ways to leverage your Evanston Chamber membership:

  1. Promote your events, promotions, job postings, and more using the member portal on evchamber.com – if you upload your events, promotions, and job posting to the appropriate pages, we can use Evanston Chamber’s e-newsletter and social media feeds to provide an extra signal boost
  2. Attend events (like a Happy Hour networking session) and meet other Chamber members
  3. Tag us on social media so we can re-post to our full audience
  4. Consider joining a committee to get involved in steering our organization (committees include Marketing, Membership, Racial Equity, Events & Programs, and Advocacy)
  5. Sponsor an event (like MashUp, a Networking Breakfast, or the Summer Social & Golf Outing)

Participating in Evanston Chamber of Commerce is a long-term pay-off. The biggest return on your investment is always going to be the highest level of involvement, like sponsoring a large event and/or joining the Evanston Chamber Board of Directors.

After serving on some committees, joining the Evanston Chamber Board of Directors is a logical next step if you have the time to commit. Serving on the Board of Directors is an excellent way to become a leader in the Evanston business community and make connections and partnerships that last a lifetime.


Will Evanston Chamber sponsor my event?

Unfortunately, Evanston Chamber of Commerce is not a foundation or a tourism organization with a large endowment or budget to support outside events. We do not actively sponsor outside organizations, events, festivals, or fundraisers. We also do not receive government funding to pass through to the community via sponsorship or grants.

Evanston Chamber does support our members through communications and marketing. If you’re an Evanston Chamber member with a big event, fundraiser, or special offer to promote, please submit this information to us in the member portal on the website and we can help promote it on our channels.


How do I become a member of Evanston Chamber of Commerce? How much does it cost to become a member? What benefits do I receive as a member?

The easiest way to answer all of these questions, to see our pricing structure, and to register to become a member is by going to the membership page on our website. You can pay by credit card online or by mailing us a check.

(We promise that it is much easier and much faster to become a member on our website than by calling us or showing up in person at our office. Our staff is very small and not always at our desks during business hours. We do not have a call center or a customer service desk.)


How do I register or license my business?

Evanston Chamber of Commerce is not affiliated with the City of Evanston. We are not a department of local government and we’re not involved in the permitting process for Evanston businesses. Please visit the City of Evanston’s website for more information and to apply: https://www.cityofevanston.org/business/business-licenses/


Where should I go and what should I do in Evanston? Is there a map? Where should I park? What if I’m going to be in Evanston for a sporting event?

These are all great questions. We are not involved in gameday operations for football or basketball games, we do not operate parking, and we do not maintain a complete list of Evanston retail business or food/beverage establishments to visit.

Please keep in mind that as a business membership association Evanston Chamber of Commerce only promotes our dues-paying members. If you are interested in learning more about Evanston Chamber member business and seeing maps of where they are located, please check out the digital version Evanston Chamber Community Guide & Directory on this page. Print versions of the magazine and map may be available for pickup at some Evanston businesses like restaurants, hotels, or retail stores.

While some other chambers may operate a public visitors center and/or actively distribute maps and guides to visitors by mail or in person, Evanston Chamber does not operate a visitor center, call center, or customer service desk. Unfortunately, our staff does not have the capacity to facilitate requests to mail maps or directories to individuals.


Evanston Chamber of Commerce Mission Statement

Our missionto foster a competitive business climate and promote economic development by providing access to a broad range of resources such as leadership, advocacy, networking, partnerships, and educational opportunities for the Evanston business community.

Our visiona prosperous, equitable, and welcoming environment in which all Evanston businesses, employees, residents, and visitors thrive.

Our values: support for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds through anti-racism advocacy & training, diversity, inclusion, and respect for all people & cultures.


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