NECC President Previews New Culinary Center; ValleyWorks to Move

Northern Essex Community College is prepping for its return to downtown Haverhill with the opening of its new hospitality and culinary arts center housed at Sal Lupoli’s upcoming “Heights at Haverhill.”

College President Lane Glenn discussed the exciting expansion with trustees on Wednesday, introducing Andreas Fleckenstein, the chef who will oversee the program. Fleckenstein brings his talents to Haverhill after serving as an executive chef and lecturer at Perdue University.

Glenn gave WHAV listeners a sneak preview of the planned learning center.

“The hospitality and culinary arts center will be a combination of classrooms, kitchen laboratories and public dining space where students can learn the hospitality industry,” Glenn said. “Learn how to manage hotels and restaurants, travel and tourism operations and culinary—how to be chefs, how to work in restaurants and places that provide food service.”

Glenn told WHAV there has long been a demand from local businesses and employers for such a training program.

“It’s been something that the workforce here has needed for a very long time,” Glenn said. “We hear from restaurant owners all the time about the shortage of qualified people to work for them so we’re pleased to be able to bring this a lot closer to the restaurants and the hospitality owners in the Merrimack Valley.”

The college is looking at the possibility of renting out its kitchen to small businesses as incubator space.

“It’s kind of the space where you got a muffin baking operation out of your kitchen right now and you want to ramp up or you get a big order and you need some space to do that, potentially,” he added.

This week, state Labor Secretary Rosalin Acosta told attendees at the annual Lawrence Partnership meeting that all of 30 of the state’s job centers will soon be unified under a common name. One of those centers, ValleyWorks-Haverhill, will be part of the college’s new downtown operation.

“ValleyWorks-Haverhill has been operating out of our Behrakis Student Center here on the Haverhill campus, which we recognize is not necessarily as easy to get to as a downtown space,” Glenn told WHAV. The plan here is to move back downtown.”