WOODLAWN — Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republican lawmakers were in Woodlawn Wednesday to celebrate the opening of a new job training and entrepreneurship center started by Rev. Corey Brooks.
Brooks’ Project HOOD on Wednesday opened the new center inside a shuttered Walgreens at 6330 S. Martin Luther King Drive, which is to be a stepping stone towards a larger goal of opening a permanent $23 million community center in Woodlawn.
“This is a place for young people to come and see their fresh ideas come to fruition,” Brooks said.
Rauner praised Brooks’ ability to complete the project without any government funding.
“Every company and every entrepreneur succeeds by being part of a network,” Rauner said. “Without that network, it’s almost impossible to achieve.”
Metro Ford owner Patrick Milligan said he would be contributing funds to keep the center going and would personally be coming in to offer financial counseling.
“I was lucky to be taught a work ethic at a young age,” Milligan said.
Brooks has a four-year lease on the former Walgreens, which is supposed to be enough time to raise the $23 million necessary to build the new community center debt free. But Brooks admitted the conversion of the Walgreens has drained much of the nonprofit’s resources and it’s a long climb up to hit that fundraising goal.
Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis, owner of Oberweis Dairy in North Aurora, said he would continue to support Brooks’ efforts.
Rauner said he had not personally contributed any funds to Project HOOD, but dropped $40 in a donation jar on his way out the door.