Coming to Sunnyside

The former Print Max building, 222 Sunnyside Drive, may soon be the home of a vocational training center owned and operated by the Chicagoland Roofers Joint Apprenticeship Training Fund. The nonprofit organization partners with contractors by providing apprenticeship programs to their employees. 

A process is underway to transform what was formerly the Print Max building, 222 Sunnyside Drive, into a roofers and waterproofers apprenticeship training facility.

As a first step in the process, the City of Milton Common Council approved on Oct. 1 an amendment to the city’s zoning code, which would allow vocational education and training facilities to be built within the city’s light industrial district, also known as an M-1 Zone District, through use of a conditional use permit (CUP).

According to a memo from City Administrator Al Hulick, the zoning change was requested by city staff after United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local No. 11 Business Representative Travis Gorman, Rockford, Ill., approached the city with plans to open a vocational training facility within the zone. The purpose of the facility is to provide hands-on training for construction personnel, the memo stated.

Allowing vocational facilities in the M-1 zone would be “important to our economy,” Hulick wrote.

Hulick defined the purpose of the light industrial district as a means through which the city could accomplish “economic goals and industrial objectives” as outlined within the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Hulick wrote: “In light of the ever-changing job skill needs of companies, it has become necessary for companies to provide ongoing training and education for their employees and new hires to provide them with new job skills. Such training and education does not always require the full academic education of an accredited school or university in order to meet the employee skill needs of a company.”

In a follow-up interview, Gorman said the program would make use of an existing 15,000-square-foot building on the 3-acre site which was bank-owned before the Chicagoland Roofers Joint Apprenticeship Training Fund purchased the building. The fund has been a registered nonprofit since 1945, he said.

Gorman is a trustee of the fund, he said.

The fund provides a federally registered apprenticeship training program for roofers and waterproofers, Gorman added.

The fund currently operates a 100,000-square-foot facility in Indianhead Park, Ill. A former lumberyard, the facility supports some 700 apprentices, he said.

The fund currently represents about 100 contractors from the northern Illinois and Chicago areas. They pay an hourly contribution to have their employees trained, Gorman said.

About 100 of those employees live in the Rockford, and Rock and Green county area, he said.

Said Gorman: “We were outgrowing our facility in Chicago, and we were looking at what was best: to add on or look for a satellite facility. We decided on the satellite so we could work with contractors who live up there. We will have about 60 to 100 apprentices who will be taught at this school every year. These are people who are currently employed with our contractors who participate in our apprenticeship program.

“We do actively look to recruit people out of high school who want to go into the trade.”

Over the next two months, Gorman said, the fund will be working with an architect. Plans call for interior renovations, a small addition of a yet-to-be determined size, a parking lot expansion, and outdoor training stations.

Construction is anticipated to begin late winter or early spring of next year, with the school open for classes by next fall, Gorman said.

Classes are taught during the industry’s off-season, between September and May. The full apprenticeship program takes five years, he said.

When classes are not in session, the building is quiet, he said. He and another fulltime staff member will utilize the building throughout the summer, he added.

The school will also have between 10 and 15 part-time instructors who teach classes and also work in the field.

As a program trustee, Gorman oversees financing and curriculum, and is also a program instructor, he said.

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