DeKalb city awards $25K grant to NuEra Cannabis dispensary for facade work

NuEra Cannabis among latest recipients of the city of DeKalb’s Architectural Improvement Program grants

The former Book World site is seen March 11, 2024 at 818 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb. The space will soon become home to NuEra Cannabis, the city's secondary recreational marijuana dispensary.

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council has awarded $25,000 to NuEra Cannabis to help offset costs for some building upgrades underway at the dispensary, 818 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.

The grant was awarded as part of the city’s Architectural Improvement Program, meant to incentivize private redevelopment in commercial areas outside the boundaries of the downtown tax increment financing district.

Laura Jaramillo Bernal, the dispensary’s chief operating officer, said having the city’s support means a lot to NuEra Cannabis, which had a groundbreaking in the Junction Shopping Center in November.

“The construction and structural improvements that have to happen to a building in order to make a dispensary – a highly regulated building, a lot of specific security requirements – it’s a very specific monetary investment,” Jaramillo Bernal said. “Being able to have the support of the city so we can make the best, most attractive, most functional space possible for the city is fantastic. It really also allows us to improve that entire building in a longterm way that even outside of its use as a dispensary is an asset to the city generally.”

Jaramillo Bernal said the city’s grant will be of big help to NuEra Cannabis in meeting its timeline.

The dispensary has an anticipated opening date set tentatively for April 20, project leaders said.

“We are in the process of making major capital improvements in the building that will house our dispensary,” Jaramillo Bernal said. “The funds from this grant, in particular, will help us improve accessibility, including restrooms and entry doors, make electrical, mechanical and plumbing upgrades, and finance facade renovations which will include new doors and windows, improved lighting and a completely fresh look for the building. The improvements will be a long-term improvement to the value, longevity and aesthetics of the building.”

Once it opens, NuEra Cannabis will become the second of two dispensaries operating in DeKalb and DeKalb County.

“The process of getting these dispensaries going has been extremely slow, fraught and difficult,” she said. “[It’s] not just for NuEra but for every single operator trying to get up and running for the last three years. There have been regulatory delays. There has been changes in the marketing [of] cannabis that has made fundraising very, very difficult. … Setting up cannabis operations is a very major monetary investment. Being able to operate in a community and in a city like DeKalb that has been supportive, flexible, patient for that process has been extremely valuable for NuEra. We really truly appreciate it.”

NuEra Cannabis runs and operates several dispensaries in Illinois, including locations in Aurora, Chicago, East Peoria, Pekin, Urbana and Champaign.

“The existence of grants like this in the supportive business-friendly environment in the city of DeKalb is one of the things that really attracted us to want to operate in this community,” Jaramillo Bernal said. “We’re excited to join the business community in DeKalb because of that.”

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