Casino school

MGCCC’s new center training hospitality managers – Published in the Sun Herald

By PRISCILLA LOEBENBERG — Special to the Sun Herald

GULFPORT — Hospitality workers will finally be able to train for some of the industry’s most sought-after jobs in South Mississippi with the opening of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s new Hospitality and Resort Management Center.

Officials cut the ribbon at the Jefferson Davis campus Friday for the new 50,949-square-foot facility that will provide long-awaited training by an institute of higher-education for hospitality, tourism and gaming jobs.

MGCCC President Mary Graham said the project was 10 years in the making with one of the biggest obstacles overcome just this year when the state authorized certain higher education institutions to provide training for gaming jobs.

The new facility will provide training for higher-paying management-level jobs that, up to now, often went to employees brought in from or trained in other states.

“This is the largest investment the college has ever made,” said MGCCC Board Chair David Ford about the $10.7 million center that included funding from state and district bonds and an Economic Development Administration grant.

The center will lease three large conference rooms, a boardroom, two classrooms and a demonstration kitchen in order to pay for its maintenance.

Training areas include a hotel room and front desk, four computer labs, five classrooms, work spaces, student lockers and changing areas and four fully equipped kitchens.

One kitchen is designed for baking, one is for teaching culinary techniques, one supports the dining room in the facility, and the fourth is the demonstration kitchen which accommodates 36 spectators in a gallery.

Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership Chair John McFarland said hospitality and service are two things Mississippians do really well that also work as essential tourism draws.

McFarland, who is also marketing director for the Sun Herald, said the students at the center will be “the next generation of people who are going to make our reputation for us.”