$10M donation drives Prairie Innovation Centre closer to reality

Rendering of the Prairie Innovation Centre, Parkland building

Transformational gift to propel the future of agricultural education in the Edwards School

Manitoba Ag Days kicked off in a big way. A $10 million donation has just put the planned Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture closer to reality.

This donation, from a philanthropist who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being, plays a pivotal role in the next steps for the marquee project for the newly minted Russ Edwards School of Agriculture and Environment at Assiniboine Community College.

The campaign started with a $10 million community fundraising goal in 2019, which the college increased to $15 million and then $20 million, inspired both by sector enthusiasm and a resulting expanded scope for the project. The Province of Manitoba has also made significant commitments, including $10 million for detailed final design last year at Ag Days, a much needed 216 seat early learning centre as part of the project, and a $60 million commitment in the election. The college continues to seek an investment from the Government of Canada to complete the funding package.

The project is important to the vitality of Manitoba’s most important economic sector.

“With one in three agriculture jobs expected to go unfilled by 2029, the time for the Prairie Innovation Centre is now, to ensure we can meet those needs as they emerge,” said Mark Frison, President at Assiniboine. “And there’s no time more fitting to announce this substantial donation than on the eve of Manitoba Ag Days, when the presence and important of the ag sector will be felt all week long here in Brandon.”

Along with expanded programming and increased capacity for applied research, the Prairie Innovation Centre will provide a venue where producers, industry, researchers, government and students can come together, solve problems and share ideas.

“Our government is thrilled to work with Assiniboine Community College to expand the delivery of high-quality education that will see students graduate into in-demand, family-supporting careers in agriculture, benefiting our entire province,” said Renée Cable, Minister of Advanced Education and Training.

The Prairie Innovation Centre is a one-of-a-kind Canadian college project that will bring together collaborative learning spaces, applied research labs, multipurpose spaces and amenities that will serve both industry and the college community. By creating an enhanced agricultural training capacity, the Centre will enable the agriculture sector to continue to be a strong contributor to the Canadian and Manitoban economies.

“The Prairie Innovation Centre campaign has seen strong, steady support, which has shown us at every turn that this community, region and province needs this project. We know it will be a game-changer for agricultural education and industry advancement,” said Tim Hore, Dean, Russ Edwards School. “A donation of this magnitude validates that important work of faculty and staff, and reflects how our graduates are viewed by the sector.”