For Release: 07/06/2016
Mayor Emanuel, Alderman Munoz join Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas to break ground on new $20 million training center for utility workers
100,000+ square-feet, state-of-the-art facility in Little Village will train current workers, prepare high-school students for utility careers and generate neighborhood economic opportunities
Chicago, IL - Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas
president and CEO Charles Matthews, Alderman Ricardo Munoz (22nd), other local officials and
community leaders today to break ground on the utilities' new training center in the Little
Village neighborhood. Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas are investing about $20 million in the
project, which will provide annual training to more than 1,600 utility workers. Through a partnership
with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the center will help Chicago students train for potential jobs
with Peoples Gas when they graduate.
"When we break ground on this new training center, we are breaking ground on new futures for
Chicagoans and new opportunities for our students," Mayor Emanuel said. "This training center will
give our utility workers cutting-edge training while preparing our students for good careers in the
utility industry. This state-of-the-art facility will also create new jobs and support new economic
opportunities in the Little Village neighborhood."
"Our new training center will allow Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas to maintain our excellent
record of safety and reliability by providing advanced training in best practices for our
employees," Matthews said. "Just as important, our new vocational partnership with Chicago
Public Schools will help us build for the future as we prepare for a large portion of our workforce to
retire and a new generation of workers to begin their careers."
The Training Center
The state-of-the-art center at 4228 W. 35th Place will be more than 100,000 square feet. The facility
will provide training for current and future employees of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, as well
as prepare Chicago high school students for careers as utility workers through a vocational training
program with Chicago Public Schools. A new operations center to serve Peoples Gas customers in
the surrounding area will be relocated to the facility. The construction for the training center will
create local jobs and help boost the Little Village community. Construction is projected to last about
a year with the new training center expected to open in the second half of 2017.
UJAMAA Construction, Inc., a Chicago minority-owned general contractor was awarded the contract
for the training center construction, which will bring several construction jobs and create
opportunities in the Little Village neighborhood.
Peoples Gas Training Center
"Peoples Gas has made a major investment in our vibrant Little Village community, one that
will create jobs and provide educational and economic opportunities for our local businesses and
primarily Mexican residents," Alderman Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward) said. "The CPS
partnership is especially significant because it will provide our youth additional educational and
career opportunities to help them succeed and make their families proud."
Chicago Public Schools Partnership
The partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will help dozens of students from Dunbar
Vocational, Fenger Academy and Little Village Lawndale high schools annually train for potential
jobs with Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas when they graduate. The program will include:
- Field trips to the training center and other experiential opportunities.
- Summer internships for sophomores and juniors to experience the utility industry.
- After school training courses for seniors to prepare for excellent job opportunities in the gas
"We are so excited for the groundbreaking of the new Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas
Training Center because it will help us create a pipeline to viable careers for Chicago Public
Schools students," said Alan Mather, Chief Officer, Office of College and Career Success.
"We are so grateful to Peoples Gas for partnering with us - we believe this partnership has
the potential to not only expose our students to this growing industry, but to significantly impact the
trajectory of their lives."
"Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas are committed to hiring minority vendors that provide
competitive services and innovative solutions to meet our challenges," added Matthews.
"We are pleased that UJAMAA will also subcontract with minority vendors."
As part of the partnership with UJAMAA, 85 percent of the spending on sub-contracting will go to
minority-owned businesses, with about half of the total spend going to Hispanic-owned
subcontractors and 10 percent going directly to companies based in Little Village. This will result in
indirect jobs which will benefit Little Village. Additionally, the increased traffic to/from the facility
during and after construction will provide an ongoing boost to the Little Village economy through
increased commercial sales.
"I started UJAMAA Construction more than 15 years ago to be a socially responsible
company and play a significant role in rebuilding our community, one block at a time,"
Jimmy Akintonde, president and CEO of UJAMAA Construction, Inc. said. "I am delighted that
Peoples Gas selected UJAMAA for this unique project which is having a significant impact on our
community and is a personal dream come true. I look forward to building this state of the art facility
on time and on budget."
The 100,000+ square-feet training center will feature indoor and outdoor training areas:
- Indoor Training Center - will include five classrooms, five practical training areas, a
computer simulation lab and a 75-seat meeting room available to local community groups.
- Outdoor Training Areas - will include a mock "Gas City" with a fully
functioning natural gas delivery system and 20 structures for training in system maintenance and
gas leak investigation. It will be the largest natural gas mock city training site in Illinois, providing the
most extensive real-world training for natural gas workers available in the state. Other training
features located outside will include: an area to train employees in excavation and directional
drilling; an area for collaborative fire-prevention and first responders training with the Chicago Fire
Department; and a commercial driver's license training area.
About Peoples Gas & North Shore Gas
Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas are both subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC) and
regulated natural gas delivery companies. Peoples Gas serves approximately 830,000 residential,
commercial, and industrial customers in the city of Chicago. North Shore Gas serves approximately
159,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in 54 communities within the northern
suburbs of Chicago. For more information about natural gas safety, energy efficiency and other
energy-related topics, visit
For More Information, Contact:
- Peoples Gas:
- Mayor's Press Office