The Rebuilding Exchange is seeking a $2 million grant from Evanston’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase a warehouse at 626 Hartrey Ave. to become a building trades training center.

The Rebuilding Exchange is the new entity resulting from last year’s merger of the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse and the Chicago-based Rebuilding Exchange.

It’s now located at 1245 Hartrey Ave. That site would continue to operate as the organization’s reclaimed building materials retail store.

The 626 Hartrey building, adjacent to a city water tower, is currently on the market, listed at $1,950,000.

The 18,000 square foot building last changed hands in 2009 for $799,000.

The Rebuilding Exchange proposal to the city assumes a purchase price for the property of $1.7 million and spending $800,000 to renovate the building and $200,000 on operation costs, for a total expense of $2.7 million — with the $700,000 to come from foundation grants, individual donations and in-kind gifts.

Aina Gutierrez, executive director of the Rebuilding Exchange, says the training program the group would operate at the new building would connect 100 people to living wage employment, provide 50 local employers with qualified workers and increase diversity in the building trades workforce.

The proposal has received letters of support from Oakton Community College, The AUX, the Mayor’s Employer Advisory Council and Evanston Township High School.

The proposal is scheduled for review by the Economic Development Committee during a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

An ultimate decision on the proposal will be up to the City Council.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. As someone who works as general counsel for a busy light industrial staffing agency- I think this plan is fabulous (provided Evanston’s taxes don’t increase once the ARPA funds run out). Manufacturing will continue to flourish as more jobs are kept in the U.S. Additionally, despite the doom and gloom from fears of a recession, the Illinois manufacturing sector is growing. And for all the worries about robots taking over manufacturing jobs – well those robots can only do repetitive jobs and need humans to set/fix/operate them. Take a peak at open jobs at any manufacturing employer (either direct or through a temporary agency) and you’ll fund a plethora of openings. Illinois has the MOST regulation for employers (even beating out CA and NY) when it comes to workers rights in temp agencies. So, I’m not sure why Aina Gutierrez said this would connect people with living wages? Evanston’s minimum wage is not on par with the City of Chicago’s minimum wage – but is within legal boundaries for Cook County’s set minimum. So, please, provide people with the skills to walk into a career and flourish. (And remember, doing the job is just one aspect – learning to professionally co-exist with all people from all backgrounds in a workplace is equally as important).

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