Carpenters union breaks ground on annex to apprentice training center in Pekin

Local News

PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — A local union is adding on to train the next generation of carpenters.

Community leaders and Mid-America Carpenters Regional Association representatives on Friday turned the ceremonial dirt to break ground on an annex to its Pekin Apprenticeship and Training Center.

Rob Swegle, the program’s director, said the annex will allow them to train an additional 450 apprentices per year. It is expected to take between 10 months and a year to complete.

“It will give us more opportunities to teach our apprentices and journey-people the newest skill, the newest technologies,” he said.

Roy Eash, superintendent carpenter at Carpenters Local Union 237, graduated from the program in 1997. He said the campus was a quarter of the size when he was there and is pleased to see it continue to grow.

“The future is incredible for any upcoming apprentices,” he said. “Through the carpenters apprenticeship you’re the best trained and you can travel anywhere with that card, and be accepted and hired.”

Gary Perinar, executive secretary-general of the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council said the expansion is a win-win for everybody.

“There’s a big need for certified trained carpenters, and that’s the hardest to find right now. This facility will provide our union carpenter contractors to perform the work on time and within budget,” he said.

Pekin Mayor Mark Luft said the growth of the program will draw more people to the city.

“There will be apprentices that will come from over 40 different counties to the community, which gives them a chance to see how we’re growing here, how we’re moving forward,” he said. “That means people are going to move here. People are going to spend their money here.”

The Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council represents more than 50,000 working men and women in 324 counties across Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and eastern Iowa.

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