ON CAMPUS: GCCC meeting the challenge

12/4/2013

By ELAINE SERAFIN

By ELAINE SERAFIN

Over the past 30 years, many rural communities have experienced devastating declines in their economies and, subsequently, their overall populations. In contrast, Finney County has realized significant economic growth over the past 20 years. This was not because of fated favoritism, nor a random stroke of luck. Rather, it is the result of the proud, hard-working and dedicated residents of this community along with the exceptional leaders who have been entrusted to envision and oversee the community's future. In other words, Finney County's successes have not been accidental, but due to progressive planning and foresight.

One of the more recent examples of this visionary and proactive leadership was in 2005, when the county commissioned the Policom Corp. to conduct a study of the local economy and develop an economic development plan to carry Finney County into the future. William Fruth, principal researcher and president of Policom, established the following objective:

"It is the goal of the Finney County community to diversify the local economy, cause it to grow in size, and significantly improve its quality over the next 20 years." This plan was subsequently adopted by the community and listed a series of specific goals and detailed the tasks required to accomplish them. This is where Garden City Community College comes into the picture.

With the purpose of availing local businesses of a trained or trainable workforce, GCCC was assigned the task of "developing a comprehensive worker training system which has the ability to create and fund customized training programs for qualified primary businesses."

The plan recommended that the college create more programs like the existing Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Training Program and the newly created Culinary Management Program.

GCCC Ammonia Refrigeration

GCCC's Ammonia Refrigeration program was the first hands-on ammonia refrigeration training program in the country. The one-week, accredited course provides three college credit hours and draws added interest to the college. Global corporations such as Anheuser-Busch Inc., Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, Sara Lee Foods, ConAgra Foods and Tyson Prepared Foods are just a few of the 500-plus companies using the GCCC Ammonia Refrigeration program to train its employees. As a result, additional monies are imported to the local economy and air traffic is increased at the airport. In keeping with GCCC's mission to produce positive contributors to the economic and social well-being of society, as well as to complete the assigned economic development task, GCCC has created several programs to meet the workforce needs of the region's business and industries. For example, the Nursing & Allied Health, Criminal Justice, EMT, Fire Science, John Deere, CDL and Welding programs all accommodate industry's needs for workers who have been trained and certified in these careers via Garden City Community College.

Finney County also has done an amazing job of exceeding the goals set forth in the economic development plan and continues to search for opportunities that will continuously strengthen overall economic conditions and improve the vitality of the community. As new business and industry are recruited to the area, hundreds of jobs are being created.

Culinary Management

As the college remains responsive to this ever-changing economic environment and seeks to fulfill the needs of the community, new career training programs are developed. Workforce projections made by the Economic Modeling Specialist International agency indicate that from now until 2022, first-line culinary supervisors and serving worker occupations will grow by 11.1 percent in southwest Kansas, southeast Colorado and the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles. EMSI data also shows more than 150 culinary job openings annually in this region.

GCCC recently received approval from the Kansas Board of Regents to initiate a Culinary Management Program. The program prepares students to manage a restaurant kitchen or catering operation. Instruction provides hands-on experience in planning, supervising and managing food and beverage preparation; menu preparation; culinary health and safety; cost control; purchasing; problem solving; personnel management; event planning; and knowledge of applicable laws and regulations.

Culinary management students will receive an associate in applied science degree after completing the program's 67 credit hours. The new program also allows students to exit after one year with a Culinary Manager Assistant certificate.

Upon completion of the culinary program, students will be able to demonstrate customer service skills and professional and ethical conduct according to industry standards, apply proper safety and sanitation principles to meet industry standards and governmental regulations, and use leadership and management skills in all settings, including event catering.

As southwest Kansas continues to excel and grow, the taxpayers can be assured that GCCC is taking notice, expanding its program offerings and preparing the working public for future success. Enrollment for the spring 2014 semester opens today, so if you're looking for a new career, please enroll now.

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