Advocacy and State Relations, The California State University

Lobby Day highlights CSU hospitality programs, industry needs

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 is the premier higher education institution preparing people to lead this industry.

Twenty-five representatives from eight California State University campuses with executives from Visit California, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) and California Hotel & Lodging Association and a community college met with numerous members of the Assembly, Senate and the Governor’s Office to demonstrate the connection between the hospitality industry and the CSU.

“We are here to educate legislators about the relationships between all areas of the hospitality industry and the symbiotic relationship with the CSU,” CRA President + CEO Jot Condie said. “We look to the CSU for our future leaders.”

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’s motto, ‘Working for California,’ isn’t just lip service,” said Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz. “Clearly, there is a need for people to lead this massive industry, and the CSU works to fulfill that need. 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.”

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 CSUs, 14 offer degrees related to hospitality management. 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.

“You cannot outsource hospitality jobs,” said Andy Feinstein, dean of The Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona 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, the Advocacy and State Relations Office and Cal Poly Pomona’s Government Affairs Office with participation from the following campuses: East Bay, Fresno, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Sonoma and Mt. San Antonio College. University presidents Dr. Ruben Armiñana from Sonoma State and Dr. King Alexander from CSU Long Beach and Dr. 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 Trustee Lou Monville and Board of Trustees president Bob Linschied joined members of the delegations at lunch.  In addition to Condie, Caroline Beteta, CEO and president of Visit California, and Lynn Mohrfield, president of California Hotel & Lodging Association represented sectors of the industry.

Students Matt McMaster from The Collins College of Hospitality Management, Rachel Rohrenbach, from San Jose State and Allison Lakomski from CSULB, represented students during the day.

“Being a part of the CSU hospitality lobby day was incredible,” McMaster said. “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. 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.”

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