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$15M in Walton Family Grants Fuel Culinary Expansion at NWACC

2 min read

NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville said Tuesday that its Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management will expand thanks to three grants totaling $15 million from the Walton Family Foundation.

The college said the money will help pay for new facilities, enhanced programming, professional development, a new program identity, equipment, new leadership and more faculty.

The college also said that it has hired Glenn R. Mack as the college’s first executive director of culinary arts. Mack will oversee the program and its expansion, according to a news release from the college.

The new direction comes after the college in 2013 hired Karp Resources of New York, a national food and agriculture consultancy, to produce a strategic plan for the program. 

“The expansion of our culinary program specifically addresses our area’s workforce needs over the coming years,” Mack said. “The food assessment study found that food and hospitality jobs in northwest Arkansas now represent more than 28,800 jobs. Those occupations are expected to 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 CAHM program.”

The college said the proposed academic shift for the culinary arts program will focus on farm, agriculture and nurturing food entrepreneurs. The college plans to develop new curricula for butchery and charcuterie; food preservation; seasonal cooking; and artisanal foods. 

The college is also considering programs around wines, spirits and mixology.

Pending approval by the college’s trustees, the expanded culinary program plans to move from its current space at the Center for Nonprofits @ St. Mary’s in Rogers to a 27,500-SF space in a former industrial plant in southeast Bentonville’s 10-acre Market District. Organizers hope for occupancy in fall 2016, but renovation plans are pending.

The college also plans to continue using the Tyson Culinary Learning Center on its main campus.

Mack is Fort Smith native who was most recently academic dean with At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in Singapore, and he’s currently president-elect of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Mack previously worked as market president for Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He began his duties with the college on June 1. 

Elements of the Walton grant are:

  • A two-year grant of $8.3 million to the Community Development Corporation of Bentonville/Bella Vista to redevelop the industrial space. The CDC plans to lease the space to NWACC.
  • A three-year grant of $2.1 million to the NorthWest Arkansas Community College Foundation to grow of the college’s culinary operations and develop curriculum.
  • A one-year grant of up to $4.6 million to the foundation to buy and install of furniture, fixtures and equipment.
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