During this season of giving we want to GIVE THANKS for all of your continued support of Waukegan Main Street and the businesses in our Main Street Business. Small Business Saturday on November 26th was a resounding success with great weather, registers ringing and an all-around festive atmosphere including Santa at the Genesee Theatre and the tree lighting in Jack Benny Plaza. If you didn’t have the opportunity to shop local on Small Business Saturday remember that the boutiques, shops and restaurants remain the mainstays for holiday giving!
You have another big opportunity to enjoy holiday cheer in our Arts & Entertainment District on Saturday, December 17th with the annual HolidayWauk – December ArtWauk! This fun event offers free and inexpensive activities for the whole family, so bundle up, bring your camera and head downtown! Here’s a smattering of the offerings:
Ice sculpting by Art Below Zero and pictures with Santa in Jack Benny Plaza!
Ornament decorating at Tufo Art Gallery – this free activity is popular with kids of all ages!
Swing by Candy Cane Lane in the South Genesee Merchants Block for pictures with LIVE reindeer, a hot chocolate bar at Sweet Treasures Resale and listening to the Waukegan High School Tri-M Choir at Your This and That Shop – and more!
The Young Professionals Launch Event took place at Rosati’s Pizza on Wednesday June 1st and was a huge success! We had 40+ people come out to network and have a good time after work in our downtown district. Thank you to Rosati’s General Manager, Amber Alden.
Stay tuned for our First Fridays Series starting in August!
Waukegan Main Street caught up with Gary LeVine to find out more….
WMS: So how did this concept come about?
Gary LeVine: It began as a group of friends, Cigar aficionados and boaters. We would meet in the summer at Waukegan Harbor on beautiful Lake Michigan enjoying our cigars while sharing boating stories. Over time, our cigar knowledge and experience grew into rolling cigars for our own enjoyment. We invested in a rolling machine, molds and a cigar press. With the experience of our Cuban friend, Luis Carbonell, we have learned the fine art of creating a fine cigar. We then started creating our own blends.
WMS: What will the experience be like?
Gary LeVine: The Lounge will have cigar smoking . Patrons can walk in and go back to our giant walk-in humidor, and pick out their own cigars. We’ll teach patrons about cigars; how to roll them, the different blends available in A Cuban Theme environment.
WMS: Why Waukegan?
Gary LeVine: We wanted it to be in Waukegan! Most of the partners are life long Waukeganites. We want to watch this downtown area grow. We want to be a part of this Cities growth.
WMS: What differentiates your cigars from other brands?
Gary LeVine: Some are mild, some are stronger. You can customize the cigars to make different sizes, and use different leaves from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaraguan and Connecticut. We’ve gotten rave reviews!
WMS: When will you be opening?
Gary LeVine: We plan to have a soft opening the end of March.
Lounge Hours: 10am-8pm tentatively.
Cigars prices in all ranges.
We at Waukegan Main Street admit it. Downtowns are not easy to revitalize. But here are some facts about Waukegan’s downtown: three theaters are thriving and more new businesses and restaurants have opened their doors!
The Genesee Theater, Clockwise Theatre, and Three Brothers Theatre produced more shows last year than ever before. Wauk-n-Whiskey has opened its doors on Genesee Street and Rosatti’s is under construction at Grand and Sheridan, joining other popular restaurants and pubs. New businesses like Lake County Tech Hub, Liberty Tax, and Horizon Benefit Services are up and running.
Your vision of a vibrant downtown and lakefront is our purpose. Every day, WMS keeps that vision in the forefront of its plans and activities.
How does the Main Street work? We use the proven ap proaches and tools that every Main Street organization uses. That’s how we can successfully focus on economic development, small business appearance improvement, historic preservation, and promoting the downtown. Here’s just one success story:
University grads Josh and Caroline Beadle came to Waukegan with the dream of starting a new small theater company. They spotted the vacant space at 115 N. Genesee and hit it off with building owner Juli Weber, also owner of Little Fort Media, right next door.
Before long Three Brothers, a 50-seat black box theater, had become a reality. “For the first couple of years we couldn’t afford a marquee. People couldn’t read the posters we displayed and they couldn’t see into the lobby. In fact, the whole block was dark,” said Caroline.
A Waukegan Main Street SLAP Grant (sign, lighting, and appearance program) was the solution. Josh and Caroline worked with downtown architect firm, Design Studio C, to design and price out a lighted sign. Then they applied to the WMS Design committee for a 50-50 SLAP grant.
“The SLAP grant was incredibly helpful,” said Josh. “Our Three Brothers Theater sign illuminates for quite a distance on Genesee Street. Now we have a clear beacon welcoming all our patrons.”
Owner Juli Weber couldn’t be happier. “The more successful the theater is, the more solid my tenant is. Everyone on the street benefits.”
Main Street organizations know that attractive positional advertising draws business customers and restaurant and theater patrons. That’s why the WMS Economic Development Committee initiated the Downtown Kiosk Program. The first kiosk has been installed at the corner of Genesee and County streets, displaying the map of downtown and promoting downtown businesses and events. WMS plans to install three more kiosks throughout the Main Street district.
Building partnerships and engaging community stakeholders in the revitalization effort is another economic development tool. For the last two years, we worked with the Waukegan Chamber of Commerce to host the Criterium Bike Race in downtown Waukegan. WMS also partnered with the City to staff a tent for Scoop the Loop and promote monthly ArtWauks.
Year-round, downtown foot traffic has increased because of WMS events like the annual winter Holiday Wauk and the summer Wine and Art Stroll. We also sponsor the annual Lunch with the Mayor. This standing-room-only event provides businesses, nonprofits, and residents and the Mayor a unique way to interact.
Waukegan’s downtown and lakefront district faces a wide array of challenges and opportunities, and WMS is committed to be part of the solutions and successes.
In the coming year, WMS will focus on bringing more people and businesses to downtown and the lakefront. Communication is key. We have listened to our downtown businesses. Already we are partnering with landlords to clean up vacant storefronts. We will identify funding alternatives to implement beautification improvements. We know that arts and entertainment are a powerful combination for boosting economic development. That means we will partner with community groups to expand the array of cultural and social events in our downtown and lakefront.
Your support will bring even more success. When you donate to Waukegan Main Street, you share in our planning, projects, and successes—now and in the future. Whether you are a Main Street partner or if you’re new to WMS, please make a special year-end contribution. Your gift of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or more will go a long way toward supporting our work.
Did you know? Waukegan Main Street is not a city agency. WMS is a volunteer, community-supported organization. The largest portion of our funds come from generous community partners like you.
Please visit www.waukeganmainstreet.org to learn more about what we do. We are working so that you, and all of us, benefit by making positive, tangible differences for our downtown and lakefront.
Megan McKenna de Mejia
Arthur Cobb, Jr
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Illinois Main Street, along with the Waukegan Main Street and Donna Ann Harris the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., hosted a“Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Strategies” Workshop at Urban Edge in May.
The workshop attracted managers, executive directors and volunteer coordinators from non-profits throughout Lake County, northern Cook County and Kenosha County. Organizations represented included Waukegan Park District, Habitat for Humanity Lake County, Downtown Kenosha, United Way of Lake County, Lake County Bike Project, GWDC, Words on Wheels, Waukegan Township, Waukegan Arts Council, HACES, City of Evanston, Kenosha Chamber, Waukegan Port District, and several Illinois Main Streets.
The lively five-hour workshop focused on the basics of working with volunteers, including the “Three R’s of Volunteers” – recruiting, retaining and recognizing them. After an examination of useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, the 40 participants discussed the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities for any nonprofit organization. “The workshop gave me additional tools and ideas around volunteering and that made coming to the event totally worth it,” said one participant. The day wrapped up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in an organization’s work.
Workshop highlights included:
Learning how to plan the organization’s work using volunteers
Discussing recent research about why people volunteer, and the three basic recruitment techniques that can be used in any nonprofit organization
Training techniques to assure that you retain your volunteer(s) and manage them well
Learning how to emphasize the need for a work plan, volunteer descriptions and high quality supervision to ensure success.
“I am honored to be the ambassador for the Illinois Main Street program,” Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti said. “This workshop provided valuable information that will help nonprofits grow and succeed while also expanding the Illinois economy. A thriving and innovative nonprofit sector is critical to fulfilling the potential of our great state.”
The State of Illinois has participated in the Main Street program for more than 20 years and currently has 37 designated communities with 1 new community scheduled to be designated in June. A recent sample of participating organizations disclosed that Illinois Main Street downtowns completed more than 396 construction projects, opened over 149 new businesses and created more than 843 jobs during 2014.
Illinois Main Street is an historic preservation-based economic development program that applies the comprehensive Main Street Four Point Approach® to the revitalization of Illinois’ downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street approach focuses on four key tenets: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring.
Nationally, Main Street communities and their local programs have created nearly 915,000 jobs and represent public and private reinvestment of over $48 billion.
The Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for America to unite and build communities of respect and inclusion – and Waukegan is on the route! Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, people throughout the nation will carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope across the country and deliver it to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games.
The Unified Relay is a historic event with three simultaneous torch run routes covering all 50 states. Composed of runners, walkers and bikers – teams will be cheered on by millions of spectators, both locally and virtually, with special guest appearances from major music and sports celebrities, along with Special Olympics athletes, who will also serve as honorary team captains.
Composed of runners, walkers and bikers – teams will be cheered on by millions of spectators, both locally and virtually, with special guest appearances from major music and sports celebrities, along with Special Olympics athletes, who will also serve as honorary team captains. Sign up to carry the torch in Waukegan!
Former Inmates Striving Together (F.I.S.T.) celebrates six years of assisting ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into society. F.I.S.T. is an organization of formerly incarcerated men and women drawing on experiences and focusing their energy on this task. Early on, F.I.S.T. worked diligently to secure volunteer positions for their group; now, they are booked well in advance by the organizations and entities such as City of Waukegan, Waukegan Main Street, PADS, and Waukegan Park District.
This year’s celebration, slated for May 3rd, will include comedian Mike Preston and the annual food tasting competition. The competition allows restaurants to present samples of their menu. Some of the participating restaurants include Spice, Key Lime Cove, Momcorn, Fong’s, The Lasagna Shop, The Hass Bakery and El Famous Burrito, while others are finalizing their plans.
This year’s Keynote Address will be presented by Chief Jennifer Witherspoon, President of Lake County NAACP. Featured Speaker, Richard Van Arsdale III, will give his testimony regarding his struggles with re-entry. State Representative Rita Mayfield is also on the program. Awards will be presented by Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim and the F.I.S.T. Annual scholarship, sponsored by First Light Bible Study Group at Joy! Lutheran Church, will be presented by Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Allen J. Lynch.
F.I.S.T. has steadily worked to provide what ex-offenders need to support their re-entry. Over the past three years, F.I.S.T. has: opened a Resource Center; provided over 200 winter coats to newly released inmates; mentored its members on life skills and employment; created a 12-step program for ex-offenders; set up S.T.E.E.P. entrepreneur program; established independent housing for men/women; started a thrift store; re-opened the Waukegan Beach Concession stand; and overseen many community service projects. These community service projects have included rehabbing of churches and a parsonage;, building a elementary school recreation site; Waukegan parade and event clean-up; helping to tend the City’s planters in the downtown area with Waukegan Main Street; and assisting PADS.
The celebration will be held at Gurnee Holiday Inn and Conference Center on May 3rd from 2:00 to 5:00 PM and is FREE and open to the public.
Constant State of Panic, Patrick Gabridge’s darkly comic love story on the challenges of holding a marriage together amidst the uncertainties of the New Millennium, is receiving its Midwestern premiere, Friday, April 17th at Waukegan’s Clockwise Theatre. The production runs through Sunday, May 10th.
An edgy funhouse ride blurring the lines between reality and fantasy and boasting exciting stage special effects, Constant State of Panic follows David and Sonia Tamzeh as they confront fear-mongering reporters, menacing Bible ladies, invasive government agents, circling helicopters, advancing armies and more!
Jeff Award-winning Richard Shavzin directs, with a cast featuring Michael Wollner (Lake Villa) and Nicholia Aguirre (Evanston), Megan Skord Campbell (Lake Zurich), and Clockwise company member Christopher Davis (Chicago).
Patrick Gabridge is the author of the plays Pieces of Whitey, Distant Neighbors, Reading the Mind of God, and Hearing Voices. His work has been broadcast on NPR and other stations across the U.S. Mr. Gabridge co-founded the Chameleon Stage Theatre Company in Denver, the Rhombus Playwrights’ Group in Boston, the online Playwright Marketing Binge, as well as the publication, Market InSight for Playwrights. Mr. Gabridge’s published novels include Moving: A Life in Boxes and Tornado Siren.
Richard Shavzin directed the world premieres of Defamation, Tops or Bottoms, Persistence of Vision and Fallout. He won a Jeff for his Strawdog Theatre direction of Burn This, and directed the Jeff-nominated productions of Criminal Hearts, Cat’s-Paw, The Big Funk, A Mother, A Daughter and A Gun,Skeletons, and Hurlyburly. Mr. Shavzin serves on the Council of Actors Equity and on the National Board of Directors of SAG-AFTRA, and is a member of Clockwise Theatre’s artistic advisory board.
Constant State of Panicruns April 17th through May 10th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased here, by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006, or at the door. Group rates (10 or more, pre-paid) are available.
Clockwise Theatre is located at 221 N. Genesee Street in downtown Waukegan. Ample, free on-street parking is available. For more information, visit Clockwise Theatre.
Dandelion Gallery is pleased to announce the winners of its First Juried Show. Twenty eight artists were accepted to this inaugural event which opened last Saturday March 21 during the fourth anniversary of ArtWauk in downtown Waukegan’s arts and entertainment district. The juried show also celebrated the fourth anniversary of Dandelion Gallery.
First place was awarded to Erick Anderson. He will be the featured artist at Dandelion Gallery at a future ArtWauk and received a one year membership to the gallery. Second place was awarded to Lorinda Murphy. She received a three month membership to the gallery. Third place was awarded to Darlene Bock with a one month gallery membership. Honorable mentions were given to Mike Litewski, Gary G, Sue Thomson and Tom Biegalski.
The winning artists were announced during the opening reception. The juried show exhibit will continue through the April ArtWauk on April 18 and close on May 9.
Dandelion Gallery is located at 109 S. Genesee Street, Waukegan, and is open each ArtWauk, the third Saturday of each month from 5-9 PM. It is also open by appointment. For more information, go to www.dandeliongallery.org.
Then the Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Workshop May 6th in Waukegan is for you!
This lively five-hour workshop will focus on the basics of working with volunteers: how to recruit, retain and recognize them for their hard work for your nonprofit organization. After an examination of three useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, we’ll discuss the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities. We will wrap up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in your organization’s work.
This workshop is presented by Illinois Main Street, The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Heritage Consulting, Inc.
For an agenda, workshop leader bio and to register, click here!