Greenville Tech Foundation and The Furman Co. Partner to Grow the Culinary and Hospitality Workforce

Staff Report From Greenville CEO

Friday, January 11th, 2019

The Greenville Tech Foundation and The Furman Co. are partnering to meet workforce needs within the growing restaurant and hospitality industry while bringing opportunity and pathways for economic mobility to the citizens of West Greenville.

Poe West will be located at 556 Perry Avenue in a facility once occupied by the Poe Hardware and Supply Company and later serving as home to Diversified Systems Inc. The Furman Company purchased the property in 2017. Renovations will begin this spring, and a fall 2019 opening for Poe West is expected.

Greenville Technical College’s new Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation (CHI) will anchor the Poe West space. The center will bring education that provides entry to one of Greenville’s fastest growing sectors to the neighborhood, allowing people to quickly prepare for nearby job opportunities. These programs will provide an on-ramp to the workforce as well as a start on stackable credentials that will lead to promotions.

The $10 million property will include culinary and hospitality focused tenants and will feature creative office space, restaurants, and shops. Poe West, with CHI as a culinary partner, will provide a dynamic anchor for the project. Poe West was conceived to offer a place in the Village for creative, energetic thinking. The Furman Co. is committed to providing a warm and welcoming space that facilitates collaboration, community, and connection – both economically and socially – among its creative office users, artists, food makers and connoisseurs.

The project is expected to play a strong role in transformation of the surrounding neighborhood, bringing opportunities for economic prosperity to West Greenville. Similar projects include development of the former Claussen Bakery on Augusta Street, once a vacant building and now a mixed-use facility housing McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture and Upstate Craft Beer Company.

In downtown Greenville, there is a strong and established hospitality presence with more than 120 restaurants in a 10-block stretch and many other establishments in the area. These businesses struggle to find the qualified employees they need to succeed and grow.

“We are proud to be part of an innovative approach to providing skilled employees for one of our area’s strongest sectors while allowing the people of West Greenville to access the training they need to find jobs and succeed,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “When industry and education come together, connecting a business need with skill building that creates a well-qualified workforce, the community benefits on every level.”

Quick Jobs programs in Server/Wait staff, Bartending, and Knife Skills will be featured at the Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation, giving job seekers quick access to opportunity. The center will also offer continuing education for culinary and hospitality professionals close to where they work so that they can grow their skills and advance. In addition, personal interest classes, summer camps, culinary incubator space, a culinary television show produced by WSPA, and a new hospitality and tourism program will be featured. The facility will include a 50-seat kitchen auditorium, a multi-purpose teaching kitchen, and three interactive classrooms.

“Downtown Greenville has a concentration of hospitality and culinary jobs while many people living nearby are unprepared for those opportunities. Our new Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation will be the connection between needs and opportunities, building the workforce and giving people a pathway to economic self-sufficiency,” said Dr. Jermaine Whirl, vice president for learning and workforce development at Greenville Technical College.

The Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation will expand upon and create a pathway for programs of the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas, which will remain at Greenville Technical College’s Northwest Campus. Associate degrees in Culinary Arts Technology and General Technology with a career path in Sustainable Agriculture/Small Business Management/Entrepreneurship are offered at the facility along with certificates in Baking and Pastry Arts, Culinary Education, and Sustainable Agriculture. Competencies required for American Culinary Foundation accreditation are taught from the facility’s five kitchens featuring programmable combination ovens and blast chillers. Students practice their skills while serving customers during events held in an upscale dining room.

The CHI project will be led by the Greenville Tech Foundation and will seek to involve community partners and donors in this unique location. “The Foundation has an opportunity through this location to bring the proven benefits of a Greenville Technical College education to West Greenville and to meet several key priorities of access, student services, and job training,” said Ann Wright, vice president for advancement with the Greenville Tech Foundation.