PORTLAND -- During the Great Recession the hospitality industry (restaurants, bars and hotels) was one of the first to take the hit. Now, it s experiencing one of the fastest recoveries in the nation.

Washington State University s new Hospitality Business Management Program is the result of a local business need.

Hospitality jobs in the Northwest are growing faster than in the rest of the country.

The new course at WSU Vancouver was the number-one requested course the school didn't offer until this past August.

At a chancellor's seminar series Friday, hospitality executives got a chance to hear about the driving forces behind the regional growth.

It s just the nature of the business in this global society that people are going to travel, said Nancy Swanger, Director of WSU s School of Hospitality Business Management. They need things to do, places to stay, ways to get there and great food to eat. So that hospitality piece fits very nicely under that huge tourism umbrella. And it s huge for many economies.

As the economy rebounds more businesses are expanding, including the Pacific Pie Company in Southeast Portland. Their new location will open in December, adding 30 more workers. It all adds up to the hospitality industry s economic impact.

In the Northwest the industry accounts for nearly $26 billion in spending and 242,000 jobs.

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