New culinary program at WVU Parkersburg recommended for ARC funding

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Parkersburg, W.Va. 7/31/12 – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today recommended eight projects, totaling more than $4.7 million, to receive the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Investment Program grants. West Virginia University at Parkersburg was the only higher education institution project to receive a recommendation.

The $150,000 for WVU Parkersburg’s project will provide commercial kitchen equipment for a kitchen incubator that will train culinary students, provide a platform for local food entrepreneurs to develop value-added food products and offer small business incubator services for the development of new food industry niches. Upon completion, the project will assist in the development of a trained workforce in the regional food sector, grow local food-based enterprises and strengthen local food initiatives.

“I appreciate the commitment shown by ARC as well as our local partners. I believe we can, together, continue to grow our economy and provide a brighter future for West Virginia,” said Gov. Tomblin.

WVU Parkersburg recently hired Gene Evans as its new culinary arts program coordinator. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in business and an associate’s from St Louis Community College in culinary arts and hotel/restaurant management. He is a certified executive chef through the American Culinary Federation after completing competency and skills-based testing in March 2009. Beginning this spring, students will be able to enroll in WVU Parkersburg’s culinary arts associate in applied science program. Classes will take place in the college’s downtown center, which is currently undergoing renovations.

“We are excited to continue expanding this new program,” said Rhonda Tracy, Ph.D., senior vice president for academic affairs. “There are many ways in which it can help the region’s economic growth. One of the most interesting aspects is how we will infuse our new diversified agriculture program in with the culinary arts by using fresh produce grown by our students. There is a lot of opportunity here.”

The West Virginia Development Office administers the state’s ARC program, which is a partnership of federal, state and local participants providing financial and technical assistance for economic development and infrastructure projects. The mission of ARC is to assist the Appalachian region, comprised of 13 states including West Virginia, to become more competitive with the rest of the nation in terms of job opportunities, education, health and other socio-economic factors. ARC designates each county in each state with a county economic level: distressed, at-risk, transitional, competitive, or attainment.

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