The message was clear on Jan. 29 in Sacramento: The hospitality industry in California pumps billions of dollars each year into the state economy, and the California State University system is preparing people to lead the way.
Twenty-five representatives from eight CSU campuses—including Cal Poly Pomona— along with executives from Visit California, the California Restaurant Association and California Hotel & Lodging Association met with state legislators and members of the governor’s office to demonstrate the connection between the hospitality industry and the CSU.
Of the 23 CSUs, 14 offer degrees related to hospitality management. Collectively, the 14 campuses produce 95 percent of all hospitality management graduates in California.
“The CSU’s motto ‘Working for California’ isn’t just lip service. Clearly, there is a need for people to lead this massive industry, and the CSU works to fulfill that need,” says Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz. “It is our job to take this message to the Capitol so when the Legislature and the governor’s office are deciding the fate of the CSU budget, it is clear to them how the CSU contributes to the state’s economy.”
A thriving hospitality industry creates the infrastructure to handle California’s vast tourism appeal. For example, travel spending in California in 2011 directly supported 890,000 jobs and generated more than $6 billion in state and local taxes. And this is just one sector of the industry. Statistics show that the restaurant business represents 10 percent of the state’s employment.
“You cannot outsource hospitality jobs,” says Andy Feinstein, dean of The Collins College and director of the CSU Hospitality Management Education Initiative (HMEI). “The hospitality industry is here to stay and it looks to the CSU for its educated and skilled workforce.”
The day was organized by HMEI, Cal Poly Pomona’s Government Affairs Office, and the Advocacy and State Relations Office with participation from the following campuses: East Bay, Fresno, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Sonoma.
Collins College student Matt McMaster enjoyed joining the Cal Poly Pomona delegation.
“The legislators were receptive, and being able to sit in the offices of our lawmakers and educate them on this industry was a surreal experience,” he says. “The CSU is changing the future of hospitality, and with the support of Sacramento we’ll be able to fill the needs of not only businesses but of our guests as well.”
(Photo: Cal Poly Pomona President J. Michael Ortiz, right, speaks with State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar during a Lobby Day meeting at the Capitol Building in Sacramento)