Hiring ex-offenders used to be the right thing to do. Now it’s the smart thing.

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Entry-level jobs are hard to fill at Eurest, a food-service and hospitality firm that employs about 1,000 people in Chicago. So James Kallas, Eurest’s division president, is working with a nonprofit to build a basic culinary-skills training program. The program has the potential to supply Eurest with 30 to 40 well-trained employees a year.