Gov. Justice awards funding for new hospitality degree programs at New River Community and Technical College


Gov. Justice awards funding for new hospitality degree programs at New River Community and Technical College
New programs launching statewide to provide for growing tourism industry
BEAVER, WV — Gov. Jim Justice today announced that New River Community and Technical College is receiving $3.5 million to create three new hospitality-related degree programs including outdoor recreation, culinary arts, and aviation maintenance. These new programs are part of a larger initiative to build a tourism workforce to keep up with the industry’s rapid growth.  

“It’s been just incredible to watch as our tourism industry has grown in recent years,” Gov. Justice said. “Now it’s time that we focus on making sure we have the jobs to support this growth, and that our people have the programs they need to succeed in West Virginia. The future is incredibly bright. It is just great to be here today talking to students who are realizing this growth and to hear their excitement for successful careers in West Virginia’s growing tourism economy.”

New data from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission projects that West Virginia will have more than 21,000 annual job openings in the leisure and hospitality sector through 2030. Today’s announcement is just one of the many steps being taken to ensure our workforce is ready for this rapid growth.
“Our community colleges are working hand-in-hand with the Department of Tourism so we can equip aspiring professionals for outstanding careers in West Virginia’s growing hospitality and tourism industry,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education. “This development reflects our colleges’ commitment to providing high-quality, low-cost education and empowering students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in one of the Mountain State’s most-promising sectors. We would like to thank Governor Justice and Secretary Ruby for making this partnership possible.” 

This fall, the College will begin offering two new programs to its existing Hospitality and Tourism programs: Outdoor Recreation and Culinary Arts with a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (U.S. EDA) for $500,000. A $3 million state grant will create the Aviation Mechanic Program and the infrastructure necessary to train aspiring pilots. The FAA began the certification process for the school this year.

“New River Community and Technical College is grateful and honored that Governor Justice and the State of West Virginia are making a $3.5 million investment in the College. The funding will help us start three new programs in aviation mechanics, culinary, and tourism. Each new program will help the college prepare the regional workforce for careers in thriving and growing economic development sectors.” Dr. Bonny Copenhaver, President.

These enhancements are part of a larger effort to build the growing tourism workforce in West Virginia. Beginning last year, the West Virginia Department of Education began offering tourism curriculum in all 55 counties, including as early as middle school. The newly created Governor's School for Tourism – a hands-on summer academy – will launch this June, and the Department of Education has also worked with colleges across the state to launch new pathway programs, allowing students to start earning college credit while still in high school. Funding for tourism businesses to train their employees is also available under the U.S. EDA grant funding.
Additionally, the U.S. EDA grant will also provide funding for new or expanded tourism-related programs at Blue Ridge Community & Technical College, West Virginia Northern Community College, and Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College.  

“I’m thrilled to be here today as we enter a new era of tourism growth: workforce development. Thanks to Governor Justice’s unwavering support and dedication to tourism, we’ve seen incredible growth in our visitation and record-breaking investment in recent years. Today’s announcement is about making sure we are prepared to sustain that growth. We want to ensure all West Virginians have access to the training they need to fill these jobs and know about the amazing opportunities that await in West Virginia’s tourism industry,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby.   

For images from today’s event, click here.

Contact Information

CJ Harvey,; Rachael Harper,


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