Feeding the Myrtle Beach Economy with a new HGTC culinary building

Feeding the Myrtle Beach Economy with a new HGTC culinary building

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Tourism is the bread and butter of Myrtle Beach, and one reason people travel is for good food. A goal is to make the Grand Strand a culinary destination and Horry Georgetown Technical College plans to do that, in less than two years.

Once the city gives the nod this week, HGTC can start moving along with plans to build its brand new culinary institute at the Grand Strand campus.

The Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach will bring a new flavor to the area.

Chef Joe Bonaparte, Executive Director of the Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach, is overseeing the new $15 million center and he's calling it "world class."

The 30,000-square foot building will sit on the corner of Pampas Drive and Crabtree Lane. It will grow the program from 180, to about 500 students.

With that expansion comes more classes from nutrition to baking pastries.

The new building will also offer a 100-seat restaurant with a local focus, bringing in seasonal products from local farms and fishermen, also adding an international flair.

The goal is to groom students to turn our area into a culinary hot-spot, says officials.

"Offer a facility that people might want to come to from any part of the country but also might want to stay in this area because of the beaches, all the restaurants,” said Bonaparte, “Possibly contribute to a year-round dining scene that sustains the restaurants a little better during the off season."

The plan is to begin construction this coming March and wrap up in summer of 2016, just in time to open for fall semester.

This isn't the only program HGTC hopes to pull that local draw.

The new electrical lineman program starts in January. HGTC officials say, it is a one semester, certificate program which puts you right in the workforce, with a company like Santee Cooper.

The college is also continuing plans for manufacturing programs. It's looking at building a site across from the Conway campus, and one in Georgetown.

On top of that, Chef Bonaparte said the Brewmaster/Brewery Operations Associates Degree is now official with the state of South Carolina, so HGTC is moving to the next planning stages.

All in all, the new culinary center, along with all these programs, will help boost our local workforce.

"Putting out a very well trained workforce that we can contribute to the industry the quality level of coming up to some of the major food cities that we see around the country,” he said.

Chef Bonaparte said this new culinary building allows for new opportunities. One thing he would like to do, if a food truck ordinance passes in the county, is to bring a program to our area so HGTC can run a unique program, making our area stand out and draw in new students.

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