Air and hospitality academy branching into China

Vancouver institute has new sister school

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

Published:

 
photoArch Miller

The International Air and Hospitality Academy, already carrying a portfolio of training programs in the wind energy, hospitality and culinary arts industries, is crafting growth plans with a new territory in mind: China.

Just this month, the Vancouver-based academy finalized a sister school relationship with Shuangliu Vocational Education Center in Chengdu, China. The academy sees the new relationship, which is focused on bolstering each school’s offerings in hospitality training, as a vehicle for achieving three goals:

• To send academy teachers and administrators to Chengdu to learn about the Shuangliu school’s programs;

• to set up a student exchange program between the two schools;

• and to eventually establish an International Air and Hospitality Academy satellite campus in Chengdu, a sprawling region in China’s southwest that’s home to an estimated 12 million people.

“There’s an opportunity for us to expand our business,” said Arch Miller, founder of the Vancouver academy. “It’s also an opportunity for us to create relationships that we don’t currently have.”

The work to secure a relationship between the two schools began about a year ago, when Miller visited Chengdu for several days looking to develop contacts for the Northwest Renewable Energy Institute — a division of the academy that prepares students for careers maintaining and fixing turbines in the wind energy industry.

While that didn’t work out, Miller said, local Chinese leaders did express interest in developing the sister school relationship.

So, the academy dispatched Ed Bedecarrax, its director for education, to Chengdu to negotiate the final details of the sister school relationship. Bedecarrax returns this week, Miller said, and his full report on his trip to China will help the Vancouver academy figure out its next steps in building on the new relationship.

And the International Air and Hospitality Academy, which has 61 employees and a total of 342 students attending its classes, hasn’t lost sight of its goal of making inroads into China’s burgeoning wind energy industry.

While in China, Bedecarrax represented the Northwest Renewable Energy Institute during a wind power conference held Oct. 19-21 in Beijing. The idea was to identify other conference participants who also plan to attend the U.S.-China Wind 2011 conference in San Francisco in December, and to invite them to visit the Northwest Renewable Energy Institute’s campus in Vancouver.

The long-term goal, Miller said, is to have the institute train wind energy technicians who will then go to work for China-based wind turbine manufacturers who are just beginning to set up North American operations.

“There is some opportunity there,” Miller said.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ; http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com