Walker family donates $1.2 million to Niagara College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

NC’s Largest-ever corporate gift kicks off Achieving Dreams Campaign

Niagara College announced today that the Walker family and its Niagara-based Walker Industries Holdings Limited are donating $1.2 million to Niagara College – the largest corporate gift the college has ever received.

The donation – which will support the development of the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre — was announced to an audience of more than 600 business, education and community leaders at the Niagara College Foundation’s Seafood Gala. Held at the Fallsview Casino Resort, the annual Seafood Gala raises funds in support of student success.

“All of us at Niagara College are extremely grateful to the Walker family and Walker Industries for their generosity,” said Niagara College president Dan Patterson. “While their gift supports Niagara College, it’s also an important investment in innovation and economic development in the Niagara region. It’s a true cause for celebration.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Centre is a key element of the college’s $55 million Capital Vision 2016 expansion project, which will provide new and expanded facilities at the Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses. The Walker donation marked the launch of the Niagara College Foundation’s Achieving Dreams Campaign, which will raise $7 million in support of the Capital Vision project.

In recognition of Walker’s generosity, the new centre will be named the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. It will provide local manufacturers with access to much-needed facilities, equipment and technical expertise. The centre will significantly enhance Niagara College’s applied research projects, where faculty and student research teams work with small- and medium-sized manufacturers to innovate and solve operational challenges.

“While this gift is very significant for Niagara College, it’s also great news for manufacturers in Niagara, who will benefit from our enhanced capacity for innovation, and our job-ready graduates who will bring added knowledge and experience that comes from hands-on applied research opportunities to the workplace,” added Patterson.

“On behalf of our family and our employees, we are incredibly proud to invest in Niagara College through its Achieving Dreams Campaign,” says Sheila (Walker) Bonapace, one of the Walker Industries’ shareholders. “For businesses like ours, that depend on skilled workers that our college educates and trains, it’s important that we support this campaign. The future of our region depends on it.”

Walker Industries is a fifth-generation family business with its roots in Niagara, and facilities across Canada and the U.S. The company comprises a diversified group of companies, including aggregates and road building, emulsions and waste management businesses. The company’s head office is in Niagara – as are several of its operating facilities.

Niagara College’s research and innovation division has a solid track record of helping Niagara’s small and medium-sized manufacturers innovate. This new facility will allow it to increase the number of manufacturers it can assist, and expand the menu of services it can provide. Groundbreaking for construction of the new manufacturing innovation centre took place on March 18, 2015, with construction completion anticipated for early 2016.

“Innovation is critical to the economic growth of our region and Niagara College is committed to creating stronger links with business to foster innovation,” said Marc Nantel, associate vice present of Research and Innovation at Niagara College. “Manufacturing accounts for 16 per cent of Niagara’s GDP, with more than 900 companies employing 21,000 people – or one in nine Niagara workers. We’re committed to help them grow their business and with growth comes opportunities for new jobs.”

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit NiagaraCollege.ca.

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Media inquiries, please contact:

Michael Wales
Senior Communications Officer
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7773
Cell: 905.328.4101
mwales@niagaracollege.ca

Julie Greco
Communications Specialist
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7368
Cell: 905.328.2532
jgreco@niagaracollege.ca

John Fisher, President & CEO
Walker Industries Holdings Ltd.
Office: 905.680.3770
jfisher@walkerind.com