Updated November 02, 2018 04:16 PM
Kennewick, WA - Columbia Basin College hopes to build a culinary program even its harshest critics will love.
Skeptics called the proposed school too expensive, unlikely to attract students and said the site at Duffy’s Pond in downtown Kennewick is on “the wrong side of the tracks.”
Columbia Gardens is a port-led economic development initiative to transform a gritty section of downtown into a wine-themed visitor destination.
Once littered with junked cars and other debris, Duffy’s pond is a walking destination separated from the Columbia River by a levee and thin strip of land.
CBC’s culinary school would offer certificates as well as two-year associate’s degrees.
But critics who shared their views for the feasibility study note culinary programs are losing students and complained the Kennewick location is too out of the way.
If built, some suggested, it should be on the CBC campus or a more prestigious site, such as Richland’s Columbia Point or Pasco’s Osprey Point.
On the other hand, culinary programs face declining enrollment. College students are prefering higher paying professions in the tech sector.
Woods is optimistic CBC can create a program that is unique and competitive enough to attract students.
The culinary schools that are closing tend to be private and charge higher tuition. Le Cordon Bleu and The New England Culinary Institute in Vermont are prominent examples.
Supporters want a school that promotes entrepreneurship as well.
Woods said there is support for training future restaurateurs in the fine art of writing business plans, budgeting and creating financially sustainable businesses.
Finding the money to build a $13 million project remains a chief obstacle.
Of the 88 people who participated in the feasibility study, 33 indicated they would collectively be willing to contribute about $1 million to get the program started.
A full-fledged capital campaign is unlikely to raise more than $3 million, meaning CBC will have to turn to partners, grants and the state for funding.
The state higher education coordinating board must approve new programs. So to does CBC’s accrediting agency, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
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