Business course

New HIRE360 Small Business Development Center Receives $3M Investment

Governor JB Pritzker gathered Monday alongside Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi and local business leaders to celebrate a $3 million investment for a new training and business development center on the Near South Side that will support growth small businesses all over Chicago.

This is the next big step for HIRE360, which since 2019 has been working to help underrepresented populations, such as women and people of color, grow their businesses and find work and learning opportunities. in the construction and hospitality sectors.

He hopes to make these industries more inclusive and increase the participation of women and minorities in important development projects. According to Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, $100 billion worth of mega construction projects will begin in Chicago over the next 15 years.

Governor JB Pritzker speaks about helping residents get job training at the new HIRE360 site on the Near South Side Monday, April 18, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

HIRE360’s efforts have been far reaching since its inception just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the new funding, they will have the opportunity to expand their in-person work.

The new 40,000 square foot facility, located at 2520 S. State St., will include a culinary training center, conference rooms, a playroom for children of business owners and workers, and more. It should open later this year. The project received $2 million in state funding and $1 million in federal funding. The total cost is $7 million.

HIRE360 Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President of Construction at Related Midwest Donald Biernacki said the new space will take HIRE360 to a whole new level.

“When you just consider the number of, what I’m considering, success stories that happened when we were doing all of this virtually and during a pandemic, it’s amazing,” Biernacki said. “I step back and say holy cow, just wait until we’re really up and running.”

One such success story is Adrian Mobley, Founder and CEO of Air & Wellness Safety Training. Mobley started her business in 2014. She started by providing security consulting and training services. HIRE360, she said, has helped her expand into other service areas, like fencing and caulking, and grow her business financially.

Its first year in business, Mobley made a profit of just $5,000. In 2021, that figure was $3 million.

Adrian Mobley talks about the help and mentorship he's been given to grow his own business at the new HIRE360 Training Center site at Ickes Prairie Homes on Monday, April 18, 2022.

Adrian Mobley talks about the help and mentorship he’s been given to grow his own business at the new HIRE360 Training Center site at Ickes Prairie Homes on Monday, April 18, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Mobley said that through HIRE360 she was able to get approved for a loan when she was short on cash. She was connected with mentors who answered her questions when she needed help. She received back-office assistance with accounting and learned how to identify a good contract.

Mobley has even hired four employees that HIRE360 has connected her with and plans to hire more.

“I was able to hire people from my neighborhood and from different neighborhoods who were like me who weren’t able to get into unions or have high-paying jobs or benefits,” Mobley said. “I’ve been able to provide them with training and jobs, and most of them have been with me since conception, so it’s been phenomenal.”

David Castrejon, HIRE360 candidate and IBEW Local 134 Union apprentice, also found support. Castrejon said HIRE360 provided him with test prep and course materials so he could be better prepared for the aptitude test he would have to take to enter the electrical apprenticeship programs.

It’s his third week as an apprentice, and Castrejon says he’s learning a lot. He gets up at 4 a.m. every morning to get to class on time.

“I want to work on my own house at some point,” Castrejon said. “And I’m good at carpentry, but I lack electricity.”

Renovation facility for the new HIRE360 Training Center site at Ickes Prairie Homes on the Near South Side.

Renovation facility for the new HIRE360 Training Center site at Ickes Prairie Homes on the Near South Side.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times