Georgian College has reached its fundraising goal and broken ground on its new Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre.

Algoma Central Corporation and Lower Lakes Towing have come on board in support. Algoma, which owns and operates the largest Canadian flag fleet of dry-bulk carriers and product tankers operating on the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Waterway, announced their $1-million donation on Friday at the campus in Owen Sound. A long-time supporter of Georgian's marine programs, the Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre will be named in the company's honour.

"Marine Emergency Duties training is critical to our industry and we are pleased to help make this training available in Ontario, where it has been absent since 2013," says Ken Bloch Soerensen, President and CEO, Algoma Central Corporation. "Fleet renewal has been a priority for our company but equally as important, we need to invest in training our current and future personnel to ensure our shipping operations flourish."

The centre will be used by students (cadets) enrolled in Georgian's marine programs and by working mariners. They will take introductory and advanced courses in firefighting, survival craft, life raft and immersion suit training, as well as first aid. Marine Emergency Duties training is mandatory for everyone who works aboard ships and must be renewed every five years.

Captain Scott Bravener, President of Lower Lakes Towing and Grand River Navigation, is well acquainted with marine training at Georgian College as an alumnus of the Marine Technology – Navigation program. On behalf of the company that he co-founded with fellow Georgian alumni, Bravener announced Lower Lakes Towing will contribute $500,000 towards the development of the centre.

With these two gift announcements, Georgian has achieved its fundraising goal of $7.5 million to build the centre and adjacent fire training facility.

In June 2014, Grey County council was the first to pledge financial support, in the amount of $2 million, recognizing in part the significant economic development importance to the region. It is estimated visits by marine personnel could generate a substantial $5 million in spending in Owen Sound and the surrounding area each year.

Warden Kevin Eccles reaffirmed the crucial economic advantages that the centre will provide to the region.

"Being part of this project just made sense to county council, as our residents will benefit from the increased economic activity the students and mariners will bring to the region, as well as enhance our reputation as the home of the marine training centre of excellence in Ontario," said Eccles.

The Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre has also received funding from the federal and provincial governments through the New Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Fund. An announcement was held at the Owen Sound campus in June of this year.

Georgian President and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes says the new centre will be the result of a truly collaborative effort.

"We wouldn't be building this facility in Owen Sound if it weren't for the generous support of Algoma Central Corporation, Lower Lakes Towing, Grey County and the federal and provincial governments. Our students, alumni, industry and community partners all stand to benefit from this tremendous investment in exceptional facilities located right here in Grey County that will ensure the future success of the Great Lakes shipping industry," says West-Moynes.

Ontario has been without a Marine Emergency Duties training centre since 2013, thus requiring mariners to travel to the east or west coasts of the country to complete their mandatory training.

Construction on the centre has started and it is scheduled to be completed by September 2016.

source: media release, Georgian College



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