Nunez Community College in St. Bernard Parish receives $2.7 million business and hospitality workforce grant

September 24 2012 | Latest News

September 24, 2012

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

Beginning Oct. 1, Nunez Community College in Chalmette will receive about a third of nearly $2.8 million in federal grant funds to redesign its business administration programs to create an emphasis on business management, restaurant and tourism management, and entrepreneurship. The grant is part of about $500 million given by the U.S. Department of Labor last week to nearly 300 community colleges and universities for job training.

Nunez Community College reopens_2JOHN McCUSKER, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE archiveNunez Community College reopening in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.

"This is something we've been working on for quite some time," said Nunez Community College Chancellor Thomas Warner. "Any time you change a program or shift focus, there are costs involved. This will mean we can bring in experts in the field to get this done in a way that both industry and education sectors can be satisfied that the students completing this program have the skills to fill these high-wage, high-demand positions."

Nunez expects to bring in about 50 students for the program in the fall of 2013. Fall courses this year began in August, with about 2,300 total students.

The college plans to have a small business development center and a a restaurant, hotel and tourism lab set up by the time students for the new programs register.

The small business development center will have aid students in finding funding, creating business plans and will provide marketing and management classes.

The lab will be complete with a "hotel simulation model," which will include a hotel-like front desk, guest rooms, and a check-on computer system. The lab also will have a commercial demonstration kitchen and a functioning dining room.

Additionally, the grant will help set up programs with area four-year colleges so that the entire Nunez business administration, tourism, and entrepreneurship credits could be transferred over to the four-year instructions if students wish to complete such degrees there.

"All of the programs involved will include opportunities for internships within the greater New Orleans Region," added Christian Lagarde, Nunez's program chair for business and office careers, who is overseeing the grant.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative is a part of an Obama administration program "to develop training programs that respond to the real needs of employers," according to a speech by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis last week. "The beauty of this program is that all of our grantees have formed strategic partnerships with local employers."

"With these monies, schools can develop training programs that will help grow the most promising local industries," Solis continued. "They can invest in staff and educational resources and provide students with access to free, digital learning materials."

In Louisiana, another about $14.7 million was given to a consortium of colleges to develop information technology programs. The colleges that will receive portions of that funding are Bossier Parish Community College, Delgado Community College, Northeast Louisiana Technical College, South Louisiana Community College, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Meridian Community College, Mississippi Delta Community College, Northeast Mississippi Community College, and Pearl River Community College.

"These grants come at a critical time when many hard-working residents have lost their jobs through no fault of their own," Sen. Mary Landrieu said in a statement. "These funds will play a vital role in providing the skills and opportunities needed to move these deserving Louisianians into a stable career that will allow them to prosper and provide for their families."