South Side training center opens to boost economic development

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
New training center opens on South Side
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Project H.O.O.D.'s Leadership and Economic Opportunity held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 27, 2017.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An old South Side building, which was formerly a Walgreens, is now home to the new Project H.O.O.D. Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center.

The center, located at 6330 S. King Drive, will offer a business innovation incubator and co-working space, as well as job skills and training for small businesses and community organizations.

The project is the brainchild of Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church.

"It's a place they can take their ideas, be creative, use their ingenuity, to build their influence. It's a networking environment," said Brooks, who said creating a diverse economic base on the South Side will curb crime and violence.

Gov. Bruce Rauner attended the center's ribbon-cutting Wednesday to officially open the facility.

Project H.O.O.D. will house six components for innovation -- construction certification and training, a business and entrepreneur hub, a Women's Entrepreneur Center, youth mentoring, a media program and a trainee-run restaurant and café. Programs at the facility will range from carpentry to journalism to financial literacy.

The Walgreens shuttered in August and was donated to the nonprofit to Project H.O.O.D., which is an acronym for Helping Others Obtain Destiny.

The building has been completely renovated and provides a space where entrepreneurs and contractors can grow their businesses. Meetings can be held in colorful cubicles. Special rooms allow for training in construction and food management.

The biggest impact may be that big organizations and corporations will visit to let small business owners know how they can secure contracts and make money. For example, on Wednesday, representatives from the Illinois Tollway were at the center.