By Corey Tucker – Collegiate Staff
After being named Beer City, USA in 2012 and 2013, it is not surprising that someone can walk a mile through downtown Grand Rapids and visit four different craft breweries along the way.
As a result of the demand for trained brewers, Grand Rapids Community College, plans to enter the game by giving individuals an opportunity to learn that craft starting in early 2016.
Thanks to a $2.9 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, GRCC will be able to purchase new equipment for its HVAC (Heating, Ventalation, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration Technology), Machine Tool, Automotive, and probable Craft Beer programs.
Governor Rick Snyder calls this grant a “Serious investment.”
“One of the largest [investments] of its kind in the country … will tap our top-notch community colleges and help new students and adults looking for new opportunities gain skills sought by companies looking to grow and expand, creating more and better jobs in Michigan,” Gov. Snyder said in a statement.
With the growing popularity of craft beer, Fiona Hertz, Dean of Workforce Development at GRCC believes the certification program makes sense.
“This is a program we have been considering in light of the expertise in the brewing and beer serving industry in Grand Rapids and the greater Grand Rapids area,” Hertz said.
With the growing number of breweries sprouting up in and around the region like Brewery Vivant, The Mitten, and Perrin, Hertz feels that there will be a rise in demand for properly trained brewers.
That demand, will need to be complimented by an institution offering an education in the craft beer field.
Although the brewing program will be a part of the culinary program, it is a certificate that can be obtained with the completion of the program that will span the length of three semesters.
A negative aspect that can come from the brewery program is a problem that is widely faced by a lot of college graduates: work force demand. That was the aspect touched on by the Head Brewer at The B.O.B., John Svoboda.
“I like the idea, I understand with everything happening around town, why they would have it, but it seems to me that it would make more sense to implement a craft beer study as part of a broader culinary degree,” Svoboda said.
A part of the curriculum for the craft beer program is going to be built using expertise from area brewers such as Svoboda, who would donate some of his knowledge, if asked.
“If the timing was right and everything,” Svoboda said. “I wouldn’t have any problems with going to the college to give a lecture.”
Along with area expertise GRCC plans to properly train current instructors at the college to assist in teaching the program. When the program does get started it will be located in the Applied Technology Center.