GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools along with tourism industry leaders announced the creation of the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism Tuesday. 

Hospitality is the second largest industry in Michigan, and it continues to grow in West Michigan. According to Experience Grand Rapids by middle of next year, there will be more than 9,000 hotel rooms in Kent County. 

“We have to find new ways of developing talent, and this is a natural for us, something we can start early on in a student’s career before they even think about where they want to end up,” said President of AHC Hospitality Rick Winn. 

The academy will open in fall 2019 at Ottawa Hills High School, starting with ninth grade and growing a grade each year to become a ninth to twelfth grade school.

Professors from Grand Valley State University’s hospitality program will help GRPS teachers with insight and materials. GVSU students will mentor GRPS students, teaching them the ins and outs of the hospitality industry. 

“We want as many hands on real-life experiences as possible, we see job shadowing opportunities, we see internships, we would like to see paid internships for our students. We would like our High school students to work in various roles at entry-level positions in the hospitality and tourism,” said Ron Gorman with Grand Rapids Public Schools. 

The application deadline is January 31, 2019. Parents can learn more at the School Choice Expo & Fall Harvest Festival on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Gerald R. Ford Academic Center.