Waltons Give $15 Million for NWACC Culinary Program Expansion

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 170 views 

The Northwest Arkansas Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program announced Tuesday the appointment of its first executive director, and is planning a new facility and new curriculum offerings, with the help of about $15.1 million in grants from the Walton Family Foundation.

Pending approval from the NWACC Board of Trustees, the culinary program will relocate to the former Tyson Foods Inc. plant, which closed in 2005, on Eighth Street in Bentonville’s Market District.

The Community Development Corporation of Bentonville/Bella Vista is currently adapting the facility for reuse and plans to lease about 27,500 SF, more than half of the property, to the culinary program, according to an NWACC press release. 

The Walton Foundation has pledge a two-year grant of $8.4 million to the CDC for the project, which could be completed in fall 2016, according to the release.

The program will also continue to use the existing Tyson Culinary Learning Center on NWACC’s main campus.

The NWACC Foundation will receive a one-year grant of up to $4.6 million from the Walton Foundation for purchasing furniture, fixtures and equipment, and a three-year grant of $2.1 million for growth and curriculum development.  

The program is planning new and expanded curriculum pathways that focus on agriculture, butchery, food preservation, seasonal cooking and wines and mixology.

It will also launch a rebranding effort with the help of Fayetteville-based BLKBOXLabs.

“This infusion of resources into culinary education will not only enhance the learning experience through expanded, hands-on curriculum that fosters practical learning,” NWACC president Evelyn Jorgenson said. “It also will anchor this as a world-class program in the immediate future and secure an outlet for accommodating future industry demands.

Glenn Mack is the culinary program’s new executive director, effective June 1, and will oversee its expansion.

Mack is a native Arkansan and also a culinary education administration veteran, with years of international experience, according to an NWACC press release.  

Most recently, he served as dean of At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in Singapore and before that as market president of Le Cordon Bleu College for the Atlanta-St. Louis-Boston market, according to his LinkedIn page.

Previously, he worked as a journalist, covering the demise of the Soviet Union for Time Magazine, according to the release.

“The expansion of our culinary program specifically addresses our area’s workforce needs over the coming years,” Mack said in the press release.

Mack said a recent study shows hospitality jobs make up more than 28,000, and that number will increase 10 percent over the next decade.

“Our goal is to build a program that increases our region’s restaurant startups and stimulates culinary entrepreneurs, which will ultimately create more demand for graduates of the [culinary] program,” he said.