The new educational facility will replace the 32-year-old current facility as well as improve the educational offerings within the program, according to Senator Joe Pittman (R-41) and Representative Brian Smith (R-66). The funding comes from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).
The facility will be an approximately 45,000 square-foot education and multipurpose commercial site anchored in downtown Punxsutawney, with the facility to serve as the main educational and experimental hub for students and the surrounding community.
“The new technology-focused culinary kitchens and laboratories will provide critical spaces for optimal learning of students,” Pittman said. “Exceptional lab spaces and classrooms will meet workforce needs for highly skilled culinary arts chefs and bakers.”
The project will allow an additional 50 to 70 full-time students annually, officials said. IUP believes the building is vital to achieving the goals of the university’s strategic plan to support growing partnerships in the community, such as K-12 schools, businesses, government, healthcare and non-profits.
Smith said IUP’s Academy of Culinary Arts has a solid, well-established track record for offering numerous career and trade programs that many local high school graduations take advantage of.
“Our region is always in need of more highly-skilled professionals and this funding will allow IUPs already outstanding culinary program to build a trend-setting, state-of-the-art facility to properly train students for the well-paying, family-sustaining jobs that are waiting to be filled right now,” Smith said.
IUP President Michael Driscoll said this funding will help to meet the long-term goals of their Academy of Culinary Arts master plan.
The RACP funds will be used for capital costs such as part of the demolition, construction, renovation of property and buildings where classes will be held as well as permits and equipment necessary to move forward.
It’s reported over 4,200 IUP students studied in the Punxsutawney Academy of Arts program since it was founding in 1989. The 16-month program was nationally recognized and accredited by the American Culinary Federation, according to officials. It includes a paid externship placement for students, many at four-star restaurants and resorts throughout the nation.
For more information about the Academy of Culinary Arts, visit IUP’s website.
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