HARRISBURG – Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) and Rep. Brian Smith (R-66) today announced Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and its Academy of Culinary Arts received a $1 million state grant for a major Jefferson County project to replace a 32-year-old learning facility and improve the educational offerings of IUP Punxsutawney’s acclaimed Culinary Arts program.
The grant funding from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) will help fund the construction of a new, 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,” said Sen. Pittman. “Exceptional lab spaces and classrooms will meet workforce needs for highly skilled culinary arts chefs and bakers.”
The project is expected to allow for an additional 50 to 70 full-time students annually. IUP sees the building as key to achieving the goals of the university’s strategic plan, supporting and growing crucial partnerships in the community, such as K-12 schools, business, government, healthcare, and non-profit organizations.
“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 graduates take advantage of to prepare for future occupations in the hospitality industry,” said Rep. Smith. “Our region is always in need of more highly-skilled professionals and this funding will allow IUP’s 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.”
“We are extremely appreciative of Sen. Pittman and Rep. Smith’s hard work to secure these Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds for this important initiative,” IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll said. “Sen. Pittman continues to be a true champion for IUP and has demonstrated outstanding support for our mission of student success and workforce development for this region, and we also are very pleased with Rep. Smith’s support for this project.”
“We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial working relationship with both Rep. Smith and Sen. Pittman that will benefit our students, the region, and the commonwealth,” said Dr. Driscoll. “IUP remains fully committed to Punxsutawney and to Jefferson County, and this funding will help us to meet the long-term goals of our Academy of Culinary Arts master plan.”
“The Academy of Culinary Arts is definitely a jewel in the crown for IUP and for Punxsutawney and Jefferson County,” IUP Council of Trustees Chairman Samuel Smith said. “The Culinary Arts master plan will expand the opportunities for students interested in the culinary arts and will significantly contribute to the downtown Punxsutawney landscape and the economic development of the region.”
The RACP funds will be used for capital costs, including part of the demolition, construction, renovation of property and buildings where classes will be held, as well as the permits and equipment necessary to move forward with all aspects of the project. Future improvements to, and expansion of, the existing facility will also provide a strong basis for regional economic development opportunity as the project has goals for providing retail and commercial space.
Since its founding in 1989, more than 4,200 IUP students have studied in Punxsutawney at the Academy of Culinary Arts. The 16-month Academy program, nationally recognized and accredited by the American Culinary Federation, includes a paid externship placement for students, many at four-star restaurants and resorts throughout the nation.
RACP is administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act. They must have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.
CONTACT: Sen. Pittman – Jeremy Dias firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Smith – Ty McCauslin 717.772.9979