GRCC readies to tap into craft beer industry with new certificate program

Every vibrant city needs a great school to train the next generation of leaders and innovators. Beer City is no different.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has awarded a $2.9 million grant that will allow Grand Rapids Community College to purchase equipment for its machine tool, welding, HVAC, and automotive programs -- as well as a new craft beer program.

Dean of Workforce Development Fiona Hert says the craft beer program has been in development for over a year and was designed with the support and feedback from many of the city's craft brewers. "We have had excellent support from our local brewers including Founders, Arclight, Gravel Bottom, Schmohz, BarFly, HopCat, and the Grand Rapids Brewing Company," she says.

Hert says the job market for the craft beer industry is strong and the program will focus on a wide of variety of different jobs: "GRCC will prepare students with a complement of courses that will include extensive hands-on laboratory and operational experience covering such topics as brewing, packaging, merchandising, marketing, and operations management including laws and regulations."   

She says the program will also address "the art, science and technology of brewed beverages" and include internships. "Brewing microbiology, biochemistry, sensory analysis, nutrition, and other fermentation principles are covered," she says. "An internship at a brewery or brewing- related operation is embedded in the certificate, enabling students to apply the knowledge gained within their program." Hert estimates the program will have an annual enrollment of 15-20 students for the three-semester certificate program.

Dan Gendler, director of the college's SICE program, says that there are very few brewery education programs in the country and that the ones that exist are very expensive and difficult to get into.

The entire grant, which supports machine tool, welding, HVAC, and automotive programs besides craft brewing, will be combined with the college's $983,309.41 in matching funds -- approximately $700,000 of which was provided by two donors who are interested in culinary and manufacturing education -- for the $3.9 million total project cost.

To learn more about these programs at GRCC, you can visit the site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor.
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