Goodwill Industries opens new culinary college in Augusta

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 This Morning / Monday, Oct. 22, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta has a new college. Helms College will open its doors on Oct. 29.

It is the first college in the world started by Goodwill Industries and they chose to start it in Augusta. It is located on the corner of Furys Ferry and Washington Road.

Chef David Ross has spent the past few months preparing his kitchen to welcome new culinary students. He is the department chair of Culinary Education for the new school.

"This is like Christmas 10 times over," he said. "Just the excitement of having new students coming to a new college that's gonna be beneficial that's going to be fabulous for all these students."

Goodwill Industries Helms College is spending this week finishing up the final touches for it's culinary school.

"Up until now there hasn't been a great availability of colleges in town, so for Augusta, it's a major, major step," he said.

It will be Goodwill's first college in the world.

"We're looking back at how do we not only help people who are unemployed to get their first job, but to move from being the working poor to middle skilled and middle class," said Jim Stiff, CEO of Goodwill Industries of the CSRA.

They say Augusta was the obvious choice.

"From the National to the country club to hotels in downtown, the restaurants, there's an enormous market in this area," Ross said.

The Goodwill complex on the corner of Furys Ferry and Washington Road will include the college, a convention center and an upscale restaurant, practical training for the students.

"It goes beyond just textbooks, it's about sharing fine details in culinary arts that may not be in a textbook," Ross said.

They're hoping the chefs they produce will help get the city's economy cooking.

"This is a great thing for the city of Augusta, and eventually in the long term, it's going promote influx of restaurants, it's going to lift the overall quality of the people working the kitchens," Ross said.

"That's what we're gonna grow here is phenomenal chefs and phenomenal maitre d's and people that will greet you when you come to Augusta and continue the tradition of Augusta basically being the capital of hospitality for the world," Stiff said.

So far they have 10 students signed up for the session that begins on Oct. 29. They have 20 spaces available. They are hoping that within the next year and a half they can have around 400 culinary students on the campus.

Because it is a Goodwill college, they have donors who have made it possible to offer a tuition that is about a quarter of typical culinary schools. They have also just been approved for title four funding, so Hope Scholarship and Pell Grants are available.

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