The Board of Trustees met at South Puget Sound Community College this week in regards to the new proposed Craft Brewing and Distilling Center. The focus was on developing a partnership for new building development and discussing the educational benefits of the program. The spirit of brewing is strong in greater Olympia. Since the Olympia Brewery closed in 2003, some see rehabilitation and preservation of the brewery district as a vital component of the city’s heritage.
The educational component of the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center is a one year certificate program which has room for twenty six students and six faculty members. The Center would have a regional focus to facilitate craft brewing and distilling activities by working with the Washington State University fermentation sciences department; catering to craft-brewing and distilleries alike. The program is gaining backing of local legislatures and is expected to create jobs, and increase revenue through industry expansion, tourism, and agricultural development.
Tumwater City Administrator Joan Doan and Brewery Project Manager Heidi Behrends Cerniway emphasize the need for education to adapt to changing labor market demands. Washington State and Oregon have the second and third most craft breweries in the country behind California, with one quarter of these opening just last year. “It is a growing industry, and one which is already ingrained in our heritage,” says SPSCC president Tim Stokes; adamant supporter and champion of the program.
A feasibility study completed last year has big plans for the brewery district. SPSCC already began work to convert the former horticulture building to use as a classroom for an introductory brewing course. Additionally, Stokes plans to ask lawmakers for $30 million to construct the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center between SPSCC and Tumwater. Proponents hope that public partnerships will spur private investment to rehabilitate the rest of the brewery grounds with a restaurant, museum, brew pub, gift shop, and business incubators.