Supporting the Fruit Industry in Central and Eastern Washington

The Consulting and Business Development Center at the UW Foster School of Business is committed to the mantra of being the “University for Washington” and supporting communities across the state. This is personified in the Yakima Business Certificate Program that improves the business knowledge, skills, and leadership abilities of employees of tree fruit companies and other leading businesses in the Yakima Valley.

Since 2015, the center has held 6-week programs taught by Foster faculty in Yakima and other surrounding areas of Central and Eastern Washington. Participants learn how to improve their marketing to customers, make financial managed decisions, and learn how to better manage teams. This course is geared toward current frontline managers or those seeking to move into frontline management positions.

Through financial contributions from local firms such as Domex Superfresh Growers and Kershaw Companies, WA Fruit & Produce Co., Price Cold Storage & Packing Co., and Costco, these programs are offered at no cost to participants. To date, more than 150 companies have sent nearly 800 of their employees through the program. Of these, 55% were women and 66% were people of color.

Eustaquio Guerrero from Yakima Chief Hops completed the course in 2020. “I truly enjoyed the management classes because I felt like I could apply most of what I learned to my current position. It was also really interesting learning about marketing and accounting and how they play a part in our company as a whole.”

“This course motivated me to keep on with my education. I love learning and of course taking on new challenges.” said Rosita Gutierrez from Kershaw Companies. “I am looking forward to more experiences like this one.”

Due to the ongoing success and demand for this program, the center launched an advanced course in 2020 for those employees looking for continued education. Although this was during the heart of the pandemic, more than 100 people have completed the advanced course during the last 2 years!

“I really appreciate all the professors and sponsors who made this possible and took the time to be here with us. I can’t wait to see what the advanced courses have in store for us! Thank you!” said Elizabeth Caballero, Northwest Community Action Center.

The impact that this program has had in Yakima is significant! Participants learn how to improve their job performance, which ultimately leads to advancement in their careers. Currently, the center is building a $2 million endowment to ensure that the UW Foster School will forever invest in educational programs like these in the Yakima Valley.  Additionally, the center has secured a $50,000 matching fund. Any contribution towards the Yakima Valley Business Education Endowment Fund will receive a 100% match until we’ve raised $50,000.  If you would like to support this endowment, please click here.

For more information, contact Wil Tutol, Director of Washington State Programs at the Consulting and Business Development Center at [email protected].