Red River College’s impact on the growth and vitality of the Exchange District is about to become even bigger.
Details of the construction of a major new addition to the college’s Exchange District Campus, called the Innovation Centre, were unveiled today.
Funding for the $90-million-plus building to be built on the north side of Elgin Avenue, immediately north of the Roblin Centre, has been lined up and the project is a go.
Jim Carr, the Winnipeg MP and federal minister of natural resources, announced about $40 million of federal funding for the project in a press conference today.
"This historic investment … is a down payment on the government’s vision to position Canada as a global centre for innovation," Carr said. "That means making Canada a world leader in turning ideas into solutions, science into technologies, skills into middle-class jobs and startup companies into global successes."
The province is to play a role in helping RRC source the remaining $54.8 million through a loan guarantee, which will help enable the college to secure a better interest rate on project financing.
RRC president Paul Vogt has previously said the college will embark on a capital campaign to raise the balance of the funding.
It is not clear when construction will begin, but the college has already packaged the land for the development site on Elgin Avenue west of Princess Street.
RRC officials had indicated that the expectation is construction will be underway within the next year.
The new development may bring as many as 1,200 new students to the downtown in addition to the more than 2,000 already there.
The openings of RRC’s Roblin Centre in 2004 and the Paterson GlobalFoods Centre in 2013 have arguably had the greatest impacts on the increased economic development activity of the historic Exchange District.
This development will come on the heels of the $67-million, 100,000-square-foot Skilled Trades and Technology Centre at the college’s Notre Dame campus, which is scheduled to be opened and fully commissioned by the fall of 2018.
The new building will house programs that will bring students, faculty and the private sector together around entrepreneurial development and the commercialization of startups.
RRC currently has a program called the Ace Project that has recently expanded in collaboration with the North Forge Technology Partnership into space on McDermot Street — in an area called Innovation Alley — that enables intense collaborations between students and startup entrepreneurs.
In a previous interview regarding RRC’s involvement in the Ace Project, Vogt said, "What we are trying to say is that this approach to education is the future of the college.
"The actual program content (that will be delivered at the Innovation Centre) will be similar to this on a larger scale. The approach to teaching and partnerships is the key element here."