NPC Opens Oaklawn Foundation Hospitality And Tourism Center

Steve Arrison, Eve Victory, Jennifer Lyons and Wade Derden cutting ceremonial ribbon.National Park College (NPC) hosted a virtual ribbon cutting for the new Oaklawn Foundation Hospitality and Tourism Center Monday. The center was completed this semester in the newly renovated first floor of the Gerald Fisher Building.

The Oaklawn Foundation invested $400,000 in 2018 to help renovate the 7,500 square foot space. The Center was officially named the Oaklawn Foundation Hospitality and Tourism Center last month.

Business and Technology Division Chair, Jennifer Lyons spoke about the benefits of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. She said students earn three unique certificates and have a variety of networking opportunities with industry professionals. The program curriculum contains a significant amount of hands-on projects and earned a 100 percent job placement rate for 2019.

CEO of Visit Hot Springs, Steve Arrison said, “What a great day for the city of Hot Springs and National Park College, an amazing facility here. Hospitality and Tourism are the No. 1 industry here in Hot Springs, the No. 2 industry in the state and we have the No. 1 tourism attraction in the state with Oaklawn. What a need that National Park College is fulfilling for us here in the city.”

Darla Thurber, Vice President for External Affairs expressed appreciation to the Oaklawn Foundation and discussed the economic impact the tourism industry has in the community. “In 2019, tourism in Garland County supported over 7,000 jobs and over $120 million in annual payroll.” She noted that Oaklawn’s new hotel and casino expansion would add hundreds of jobs locally. Visitor spending for the past decade was up over 28 percent for Garland County and local tax revenue collections grew by 47 percent. Tourism related wages increased by 24 percent and tourism sustained jobs grew by 4 percent.

Thurber said, “We just want you to know that National Park College is committed to investing in that workforce for the coming decade.” She noted the College’s robust Community and Corporate Training Division provides workforce training to an average of 2,000 individuals and approximately 75-100 organizations annually.

Eve Victory, Hospitality and Tourism Management professor provided a virtual tour of the new space. “What this looks like for this program, what it contributes to this program, gives the students another reason to be proud of getting a degree from here.” She presented each of the work stations and explained how all of the new equipment impacts the learning environment for students. “This is home and we are happy to be here.”

Pictured left to right cutting the ribbon are Steve Arrison, Eve Victory, Jennifer Lyons and Wade Derden.