A process is underway to transform Milton’s former Print Max building into a training facility for apprentice roofers and waterproofers.
Earlier this month, the Milton City Council amended the zoning code to allow vocational education and training facilities in light-industrial M-1 zoning districts as a conditional use.
The zoning change was requested by city staff after Travis Gorman, a representative of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local 11, asked city officials about opening a vocational training facility, according to a memo from City Administrator Al Hulick.
The proposed facility would provide hands-on training for construction workers, the memo stated.
Allowing vocational facilities in the M-1 zone is “important to our economy” and meets goals in 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,” Hulick wrote. “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.”
Gorman told the Milton Courier the union wanted to house the training facility in the 15,000-square-foot building at 222 Sunnyside Drive, which the Chicagoland Roofers Joint Apprenticeship Training Fund bought from a bank.
The fund has been a registered nonprofit since 1945, and it provides a federally registered apprenticeship program for roofers and waterproofers, said Gorman, who is a fund trustee.
The fund currently runs a 100,000-square-foot training facility for about 700 apprentices in Indian Head Park, Illinois, he said.
About 100 contractors from northern Illinois and Chicago pay for employee training, and about 100 of those employees live in Rock and Green counties and Rockford, Illinois, he said.
“We were outgrowing our facility in Chicago, and we were looking at what was best: to add on or look for a satellite facility,” Gorman said. “We decided on the satellite so we could work with contractors who live up there.”
Gorman said 60 to 100 apprentices would be trained at the Milton facility each year. He said the facility also will recruit high school graduates who want to work in the trades.
Fund officials will work with an architect over the next two months to design interior renovations, a small building addition, a larger parking lot and outdoor training stations, Gorman said.
The city’s plan commission would have to approve the conditional-use permit application and site plan.
If those are approved, Gorman said construction likely will begin in late winter or early spring, with apprentice classes starting next fall.
Classes will be taught during the industry’s off-season between September and May. The full apprenticeship program takes five years, Gorman said.