College launches food, beverage industry jobs study
The food and beverage industry is a vital employer in the Columbia Gorge region, with hundreds of jobs ranging from culinary arts and food processing to hospitality, wineries, breweries and cider-makers.
As the region’s largest provider of education and workforce training, Columbia Gorge Community College is partnering with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Oregon Investment Board (OIB) to identify unmet skills in this far-reaching industry sector.
The goal is to determine whether the college should establish new workforce training specific to the food and beverage industry, and if so, what skills should be emphasized in that training. The study will also inform facility planning for a proposed skills training center on The Dalles Campus. The Oregon Legislature has allocated $7.3 million for that new facility, contingent upon a cash match in the same amount to be raised by January 2019. The skill center would also address other regional training needs.
The college will be retaining a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study of the food and beverage industry, including “supply chain” manufacturers, through a “Community, Regional Planning and Technical Assistance” grant from the EDA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Additional funding is provided by the OIB and the college’s general fund. The OIB is funded through the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area Act and administered by Mid-Columbia Economic Development District.
College staff will also be providing assistance in this initiative, which will be known as the “Columbia Gorge Food and Beverage Collaborative Project.”