Mayor Tisdahl, left, and Lou Dickson.RoundTable photo

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl awarded a key to the City to four residents for efforts by their businesses or organizations to develop Evanston’s workforce. Each practiced workforce development, said Mayor Tisdahl.

Lou Dickson of the Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse was the first to receive a key. ERW collects building materials recycled from rehabilitation or demolition projects and offers those products for sale to contractors and homeowners at prices far below the cost of new materials.

Mayor Tisdahl called the business “a wonderful thing for the environment in Evanston.” At the same time, said Mayor Tisdahl, ERW hires and trains people, particularly 18-25 year olds, for both retail and future construction jobs.

“I see Evanston as becoming the epicenter for green jobs,” said Ms. Dickson. She invited anyone interested in ERW’s training program to call because “we want to create a dynamic, incredible workforce in Evanston.”

Susan Trieschmann of Curt’s Café on Central Street got the next key for its work with the “hardest to place young people” in Evanston, said the Mayor. Curt’s employs “terrific young people who have [criminal] records and are working to get them expunged and working to get workforce training… They are great kids, they just made a mistake at one time,” said Mayor Tisdahl. On top of that, Curt’s serves “really great food” according to the Mayor. For founding and running Curt’s Café, “you deserve the key to our City, Mayor Tisdahl told Ms. Treischmann.

“Thank you very much, Mayor, this is a tremendous honor,” said Ms. Treischmann.

Ann Jennett, founder of the Youth Job Center of Evanston, received the next key. The YJC has “provided thousands of jobs for the young people of the City of Evanston year after year after year,” said Mayor Tisdahl. “Ann knew… years ago, before anyone else,” the importance of providing jobs for the City’s youth, “and Ann not only knew it but she had a vision and she acted on it.”

Marcia Mead and Gerri Sizemore of the YJC’s board of directors accepted the honor on Ms. Jennett’s behalf.

Evanston resident Hecky Powell of Hecky’s Barbeque received the fourth key. “I know, it’s in the sauce. Let’s get that out of the way,” said Mayor Tisdahl. Hecky’s has been a “training ground and resume builder” for Evanston youth for years.

Hecky not only hires young people, but when hired, employees are told, “you’ve got to leave” because you “can’t stay at Hecky’s forever,” said Mayor Tisdahl.

Former Mayor Lorraine Morton said, “Hecky proves the saying, ‘It can be done.’”

Mayor Morton went on to say that she came to the meeting because “it was so insightful of Mayor Tisdahl to award four keys of the City to people focusing on workforce development in the City.”