There’s a business trend you may have noticed in many communities across New York. New bars and restaurants are seeing success in many cities and villages across our state, with young adults flocking for an enjoyable night out with local food and drink. The industry is projected to see more than 43 billion dollars in sales across New York State in 2017. New degree programs at SUNY schools are now working with our agricultural and economic strengths, helping to bring graduates to the market to help continue the growth in New York’s restaurants and bars.
In Niagara county, just minutes away from the Canadian border, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo is the beautiful campus of Niagara County Community College. A campus of 7,300 enrolled students, NCCC offers around 70 programs of study and many specializations, including culinary arts and hospitality at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute. It’s here that we see knew opportunities connecting us with the trending local and sustainable agriculture, dining, and hospitality movements.
Campus: Niagara Community College
Degree: A.A.S., in Brewery Operations
One of the newest programs Niagara Community College is now offering is in brewery operations. Brewery operations is designed for students who seek a career in the beer industry. There are various aspects to the courses ranging from physical labor of making the beer to how to manage a brewery business. Along with their classroom experience, students get the chance to interact with professional brewers and are better prepared to enter the workforce once they graduate.
Starting in 2012, during Governor Cuomo’s annual Wine, Beer, and Spirits Summit, business and industry leaders identified a need for New York State to strengthen promotion and tourism efforts targeted at beverage producers. Governor Cuomo’s response: “New York’s vibrant beer, wine, cider and spirits industry supports thousands of jobs across the state and is a major driver of tourism in many communities. The important discussion held at this summit and key reforms that resulted continue our work as an entrepreneurial government to partner with the private sector to help key industries thrive and prosper.”
With the Brewery Operations program at NCCC, SUNY is directly involved in the Governor’s efforts to promote the beer industry by training students for jobs across the state.
The Brewery Operations program fit well with the existing program in Winery Operations. They are both considered “front of the house” degrees with a knowledge of the process yet an application of the business. With the support of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, Brewery Operations students have the most unique of experiences getting real-life, hands-on business knowledge as well as internships at partnering hops farms and breweries.
At the initial exploration of development of a program, no SUNY community colleges offered any training in the brewing industry. Niagara College in Ontario, Canada, offers a Brewmaster degree which still has a significant waiting list for admission to the program. The development of a Brewery Operations program was wholeheartedly support by locals in the industry.
Education is necessary to respond to our economic needs. This degree program offers students the opportunity to explore management of a labor-intensive industry that incorporates the science of growing hops and making beer. Also with the resurgence of the “craft beer” movement, the Brewery Operations degree program was designed for students who plan a career in the beer making industry and other niche markets affiliated with culinary, wineries, breweries, tourism, and hospitality.
The Brewers Association has been encouraging brewers to develop stronger relationships with hop merchants and growers since the hop shortage of 2007-2008. This program enables students to learn how to build these relationships and strengthen the trade with more innovative ways of crafting beer and improved methods of brewing operations.
With an array of courses that deal with every aspect of brewery operations, students at Niagara County Community College are turning out uniquely qualified to make an impact in the industry post graduation. Cheers!
Taras Kufel is the Manager of Digital Engagement at the State University of New York.