Ontario is supporting the development of a highly-skilled workforce and helping businesses in Niagara region access the technology and expertise they need to grow, create jobs and compete in the global marketplace.
On July 28, Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, joined local companies, Niagara College students and industry leaders at the grand opening of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Welland.
The new Niagara College-affiliated centre provides students with more than 15,000 square feet of lab space for hands-on applied learning, innovation space for companies to work onsite and office space for Niagara students and industry staff.
The centre will also help Ontario’s small and medium-sized manufacturers save on production costs and reduce production time by providing them access to leading-edge equipment and state-of-the-art research facilities as well as the expertise and business services of faculty and students.
Fostering innovation and growth, and increasing opportunities for the province’s workers, is part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow its economy and help people in their everyday lives.
“By supporting the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, students in the Niagara Region will have access to modern learning spaces and equipment that will help them develop the skills they’ll need for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development.
“Ontario’s dynamic manufacturing sector is a key component of our diverse economy. The Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is a shining example of a company that has taken advantage of home grown talent to drive success, while providing custom work for businesses throughout the region,” said Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance. “These investments are among the many significant measures we’ve taken to help the sector grow and compete as we build and nurture the workforce of tomorrow.”
The Walker family and Walker Industries donated $1.2 million to support Niagara College’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. The gift from the Walker family is the largest private corporate donation ever made to Niagara College.
The fifth generation Walker family members are the owners of Walker Industries, a Niagara-based company that owns and operates limestone quarries; road construction and paving businesses; an emulsions plant; an integrated waste management system which includes collection, transfer, recycling, composting, biosolids management, landfill gas utilization and waste disposal; and a residential and commercial development division.
“As a family and a business that has had strong roots in the region for 130 years, we are proud to invest in Niagara College’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre,” said Geordie Walker, company shareholder, Walker Industries. “The ability to innovate is key to future economic prosperity. We see our gift as a way to support other local industries to innovate, prosper, and contribute to the continued growth of the Niagara economy, while providing students with work experiences that will make them the innovators of the future.”
“It’s an exciting day for Niagara College as we formally recognize how the province of Ontario’s investment and the donation from the Walker family has made it possible to provide manufacturers with increased access to leading-edge facilities, equipment, technical expertise, training and services, while increasing training and employment opportunities for our students,” said NC president Dan Patterson.
QUICK FACTS (Ontario Ministry of Finance)
* Ontario invested $4.2 million for Niagara College’s new Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.
* Manufacturing real GDP in Ontario has risen for three consecutive years, while employment in the sector increased by more than 6,000 in 2016 and continues to advance in 2017.
* Over the past three years, Ontario’s economy has grown faster than Canada’s and that of all G7 countries, supported by the government’s strategic investments. Manufacturing, exports and business investments are increasing and the unemployment rate continues to decline.