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Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority to invest $12 million in culinary and hospitality institute

The institute is expected to strengthen New Orleans’ food and hospitality industry

725 Howard Avenue.
Photo Courtesy of the New Orleans Convention Center Authority

The Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority, which oversees the Ernest N Morial Convention Center downtown, agreed to invest $12 million to develop the city’s hospitality industry, according to an official release. The Authority is partnering with the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, founded in 2013.

The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute is a private organization that will provide certificate programs to prepare people in the industry for higher wages and middle-skill jobs, according to the organization.

This past October, the Authority deliberated an agreement with the institute, which involved purchasing the Louisiana ArtWorks building, located at 725 Howard Avenue. The building was previously owned by the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute.

According to the Authority, the building was purchased for $12 million dollars. In the agreement, the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute entered a 40-year lease with the Convention Center.

In the agreement for the building, the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute will fund the construction and ongoing maintenance of the building.

The total project cost is $32 million. The completed building will include two culinary teaching labs, two baking and pastry labs, a restaurant lab, a wine and spirits lab, a large event center, public and traditional classrooms and offices, and a café open to the public.

A ground breaking is planned for Spring of 2017, and the building will be constructed by 2018.

The Authority says a portion of the purchase price will be allocated to lease-hold improvements. Last year, The New Orleans Advocate said that amount can be as much as $4 million.

The recent agreement between the Authority and the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute is expected to bolster New Orleans’ hospitality and restaurant industry.

“The hospitality industry is the region’s largest employer with a workforce of more than 88,000 individuals, and it is growing rapidly,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a prepared statement.

“NOCHI’s capacity to double the region’s output of skilled workers will alleviate the unmet demand. This is a win-win-win for our industry, our state and our local community.”