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 (CSU) is the premier higher education institution preparing people to lead this industry.
Twenty-five representatives from eight California State University campuses, including California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), along with executives from Visit California, California Restaurant Association and California Hotel & Lodging Association met with numerous members of the Assembly, Senate and the Governor's Office to demonstrate the connection between the hospitality industry and the CSU.
“Many hospitality students contribute to the California economy even before they graduate by working in their field,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “Once they graduate they often move into management-level positions, putting their education to good use.”
A thriving hospitality industry creates the infrastructure to handle California’s vast tourism appeal. For example, in 2011, travel spending in California directly supported 890,000 jobs and generated more than $2 billion in local taxes and $4 billion in state taxes. And this is just one sector of the industry. Statistics show that the restaurant business represents 10 percent of the state’s employment.
The CSU Hospitality Management Education Lobby Day kicks off a series of industry-specific lobby days that the CSU intends to host in Sacramento this year. Future lobby days may include campus and industry representatives in the areas of engineering, entertainment and agriculture, which are also significant contributors to the state’s economy, said Andy Martinez, legislative advocate for the CSU.
Of the 23 CSU campuses, 14 offer degrees related to hospitality management, including CSULB. These programs prepare students to work in sectors of the industry including food service, lodging, travel, convention services, private clubs, event planning, sports and entertainment venues, wine and spirits business and more. Collectively, the 14 campuses produce 95 percent of all hospitality management graduates in California.
“I thought it was great that we were able to show some of the legislators the importance of the hospitality industry to the California economy and how the CSU is instrumental in providing the management for that industry in California,” said Hospitality Management Program Director and Professor Lee Blecher. “I was impressed that the people we met were genuinely interested to hear what we had to say, and I think in at least a few cases, were amazed at the enormity of the industry in regards to the economy and job market.”
The day was organized by CSU Hospitality Management Education Initiative, the Advocacy and State Relations Office and Cal Poly Pomona’s Government Affairs Office with participation from the following campuses: East Bay, Fresno, CSULB, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Sonoma and Mt. San Antonio College. University presidents Alexander, Ruben Armiñana from Sonoma State and Michael Ortiz from Cal Poly Pomona rounded out the executive leadership team.
The day also included a surprise visit by the new Chancellor Timothy White during the morning briefing, and CSU Trustee Lou Monville and CSU Board of Trustees President Bob Linschied joined members of the delegations at lunch.
Students Allison Lakomski from CSULB, Matt McMaster from Cal Poly Pomona, and Rachel Rohrenbach from San Jose State and represented students during the day.
“Lobby Day was an incredible experience that I will never forget,” Lakomski said. “It was an honor and a privilege to be able to participate and speak out. The support from all of the legislators was inspiring. I could see that they truly cared about students and CSU programs. I left with an immense feeling of empowerment and knew that this was a huge step forward in the right direction.”
The CSULB delegation Included: Alexander, Blecher, Lakomski and Terri Carbaugh, associate vice president of legislative and external relations; along with Lynn Mohrfeld, president and CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association.
Hospitality in California at a Glance:
The hospitality industry is vital to CA’s economy.
The demand for qualified leaders is growing.
CSU is working to meet the industry’s increasing employment needs.
Education and industry are working together to develop tomorrow’s hospitality leaders.