Dignitaries gather for the opening of the Marotta Family Innovation Complex at Niagara College. Supplied photo.
Niagara College is calling it a beginning of a new era for research and innovation in region’s agri-food industry, with the opening of their latest addition to its Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.
Earlier this week, federal, provincial and regional representatives, community donors and industry partners joined staff and students to mark the official grand opening of the new Marotta Family Innovation Complex, which will not only enhance student learning opportunities, but will support the region’s agri-food and agri-business sector.
The four-story complex is the centrepiece of a $34-million investment in the agri-food sector, and includes more than 50,000 square feet of newly constructed space – including three research areas that expand the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre (CFWI IC). New beverages will be prototyped and processed for shelf life and microbial safety in a new processing lab, and analyzed in its new beverage analysis cluster lab; while food and beverage companies can further their product development in a new agri-business commercialization space.
The new complex is named after the family of Benny and Louise Marotta, residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake, whose generous $1-million donation to the College’s Achieving Dreams campaign – which supported the development of the complex – was announced in April 2018. The family owns Solmar Development Corp, and Benny and Louise’s daughters Angela and Melissa are proprietors of the award-winning Two Sisters Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“As a family we have always looked ahead towards progress, keeping traditions alive and making communities stronger. We are proud to be supporting Niagara College,” said Angela Marotta. “Our goal is to help ensure this vibrant student community is always looking forward and that they will achieve success in all aspects of their life. By doing this today, we ensure the future of our industry is in good hands for the next generation of students and industry in Niagara.”
With the generous support of the Marotta family, government and student support, college president Dan Patterson said; “Our Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus is set to become a hub for research and innovation in Canada’s agri-food industry.” Dr. Patterson went on to say that facilities like this one help Niagara College play a strong role in, “helping small- and medium-sized enterprises innovate, which, in turn, generates jobs and stimulates the economy.”
Marc Nantel, PhD, NC’s vice-president of Research, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives said the new facility will enhance experiential learning opportunities for students, “which will, in turn, expand the pool of highly qualified personnel in the food and beverage labour market to help meet industry needs.”
Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery’s, Paul Harber said his family businesses have been working with Niagara College for almost four decades. “With their knowledge and hard work, we were able to develop the food product line to relaunch our family’s 122-year-old canning business Lowrey Bros.” Harber thanked everyone involved for making the facility a reality stating, “It will be a tremendous asset to our industry. Thank you to the Marotta family for your extreme generosity and to the visionaries of Niagara College.”
The new complex also enhances student life. The lower floor includes a new 6,000-square-foot fitness centre/ studio and 5,870-square foot gymnasium (which opened in September 2018), as well as new classrooms, and student space for study and entrepreneurship (which opened in January 2019).
The Niagara College Student Administrative Council (NCSAC) coordinated student contributions of $10.5 million, which supported the fitness centre and gymnasium inside the complex.
The Complex incorporates sustainable technologies including electric vehicle charging stations, a green roof water retention system, a high efficiency cooling system, and a rainwater collection and irrigation system.