SOWELA Technical Community College Breaks Ground on New $10.2M Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building
LAKE CHARLES, La. – SOWELA Technical Community College broke ground today on its new $10.2 million state-of-the-art Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building at its Lake Charles Campus. The 28,000-square-feet building will provide education and training for students seeking jobs and careers in Louisiana’s booming hospitality industry. Details were shared in a press release.
According to Louisiana Workforce Commission data, Louisiana is expected to see a 14.9-percent increase in hospitality employment opportunities by 2026. The goal of the new building on SOWELA’s campus is to help fill Louisiana Workforce Commission-rated four-star hospitality occupations in Louisiana’s economy. Louisiana’s tourism and hospitality industry accounted for 51.3 million visitors and more than $18.8 billion according to statistics provided by Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser’s office.
SOWELA’s new Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building will replace its current Culinary Arts building. Once constructed, the building will include new culinary training facilities and the campus’ first-ever gaming and hospitality training environments. Currently, SOWELA has 80 students enrolled in culinary, gaming and hospitality programs.
Funding for the new $10.2 million building was approved by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2018 with the goal of educating and training students from across Louisiana. Construction of the building is scheduled to be completed in March 2021.
“SOWELA’s new Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building will help Louisiana take huge steps in filling much-needed tourism and hospitality jobs across the entire state,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “This $10.2 million investment into the Southwest Louisiana economy will have a strong impact on the entire state’s $18 billion tourism industry.”
The new Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building is the latest addition to SOWELA’s campus in Lake Charles following July’s announcement of the TC Energy Pipeline Training Academy. SOWELA also recently announced a $500,000 donation from Houston-based Cheniere Energy and the launch of a partnership in the form of an apprenticeship program.
“It’s no secret that the hospitality and gaming industry has experienced tremendous growth in SW Louisiana in the last 5 years. However, there is very little training being offered to help provide the workforce for this important industry,” said SOWELA chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall. “SOWELA has been in the workforce development business for over 81 years and with the help of local industry representatives, has designed a facility that will provide the training programs/services necessary to produce the workforce needed for this employment sector. This new 28,000 square foot facility will provide the College the means to offer training programs and services that will focus on the specific skills needed by individuals to gain employment or increase their employability in the culinary, gaming, and hospitality industry.”