Sowela’s $10.2M game plan

Plans announced to build culinary, gaming, hospitality complex

<p class="indent">Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Wednesday that Sowela Technical Community College will build a $10.2 million complex at its main campus in Lake Charles.</p><p class="indent">The new facility will house the college’s current culinary arts program as well as several new programs designed to serve the hospitality and gaming industries which drive major revenue throughout Southwest Louisiana.</p><p class="indent">Chancellor Neil Aspinwall said the 35,000 square-foot center will feature new associate degree programs and short-term, non-credit programs including surveillance, computer networking, hotel management and a casino dealer’s school.</p><p class="indent">A complete list of new programs has not yet been finalized said Darlene Hoffpauir, institutional advancement coordinator. However, each program will be designed with input from an advisory board tasked with ensuring that curriculum is up to date and inline with local industry needs.</p><p class="indent">Aspinwall said, “Southwest Louisiana is becoming more of a tourist destination. However, in order to remain viable and successful, there has to be a workforce available and at present no one is focusing on the training needs of this expanding industry. The new facility will help Sowela provide the programs and services needed to build and sustain this much needed workforce.”</p><p class="indent">During Wednesday’s press conference, Edwards announced similar developments for other colleges in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.</p><p class="indent">In a news release, LCTCS President Monty Sullivan, said, “Our economy’s greatest asset is a skilled workforce, and facilities like these are a means by which we will generate more graduates and more qualified workers providing them with a competitive advantage on day one.”</p><p class="indent">Aspinwall echoed Sullivan’s excitement over a locally grown “competitive advantage” citing that “in 2017, the amount of revenue generated from the gaming industry surpassed the revenue generated from the oil industry.” Similarly, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s Industry Employment Projections for the Lake Charles region, by 2024 the gaming sector is projected to increase by 15.7 percent as compared with the petroleum manufacturing industry which is projected to increase by only two percent.</p><p class="indent">The new culinary, hospitality and gaming facility is to be built next to Sowela’s Regional Training Center. The project is scheduled to begin construction in early 2019 with a projected open date of mid to late 2020. Construction is not expected to impede traffic or parking at the campus because the campus has a large south parking lot within convenient walking distance to most buildings, said Hoffpauir.</p><p class="indent">Sowela’s project, as well the others in the LCTCS announcement, are part of Louisiana Legislative Act 360 passed during the 2013 legislative session. Act 360 was passed to modernize and expand academic and workforce development facilities at technical and community colleges.</p>

<span style="font-weight: bold;">‘… facilities like these are a means by which we will generate more graduates and more qualified workers … .’</span>

<span style="font-weight: bold;">Monty Sullivan</span>

Louisiana Community and Technical College System president

””<p>An artist rendering illustrates a $10.2 million complex at the main campus of Sowela Technical Community College. The new facility will house the college’s current culinary arts program as well as several new programs designed to serve the hospitality and gaming industries.</p>Special to the American Press

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