Woodlawn Pastor Opens New Community Job Training Center

CHICAGO (CBS) — Rev. Corey Brooks and Project HOOD have opened a new Woodlawn community center focused on helping people get ahead financially.

In donated space at a shuttered Walgreens store at 63rd and King Drive, Brooks unveiled the Project HOOD Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center.

The facility essentially is a South Side business incubator. Brooks said it was created without government funds, but Gov. Bruce Rauner was on hand to help cut the ribbon on Wednesday, and he applauded the private donors who helped fund the center.

Brooks endorsed Rauner for governor in 2014. Last year, Rauner appointed Brooks to the Illinois Tollway Board.

The governor said the state will help with job-training grants for some of the Project HOOD partners.

“Where the government has played a role, and always does; part of the charter of our Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is to provide grant money for job training, especially for skilled trades, like construction, etc. That’s going on here, and some of the private businesses that are doing the job training also received some Department of Commerce resources,” he said.

Brooks said private donations have created what will be a place for entrepreneurs and would-be business people to find the help and training they need.

“Every single day at this place, you’re going to find entrepreneurs, you’re going to find leaders, you’re going to find mentors, and you’re going to find a networking environment in order for people’s lives to be changed. That should happen every single day,” he said.

Programs at the center will include construction, mentoring, and financial literacy.

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