Walker family donates $1.2 million to new Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Walker AMIC

Saturday’s Seafood Gala included an historic moment, as Niagara College announced its largest-ever corporate donation – a $1.2 million gift from the Walker family and its Niagara-based Walker Industries Holdings Limited.

The donation – which will support the development of the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre –  was announced to an audience of more than 600 business, education and community leaders and NC staff at the Seafood Gala.

“All of us at Niagara College are extremely grateful to the Walker family and Walker Industries for their generosity,” said president Dan Patterson. “While their gift supports Niagara College, it’s also an important investment in innovation and economic development in the Niagara region. It’s a true cause for celebration.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Centre is a key element of the college’s $55-million Capital Vision 2016 expansion project, which will provide new and expanded facilities at the Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses. The Walker donation marked the launch of the Niagara College Foundation’s Achieving Dreams Campaign, which will raise $7 million in support of the Capital Vision project.

In recognition of Walker’s generosity, the new centre will be named the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. It will provide local manufacturers with access to much-needed facilities, equipment and technical expertise. The centre will significantly enhance Niagara College’s applied research projects, where faculty and student research teams work with small- and medium-sized manufacturers to innovate and solve operational challenges.

“While this gift is very significant for Niagara College, it’s also great news for manufacturers in Niagara, who will benefit from our enhanced capacity for innovation, and our job-ready graduates who will bring added knowledge and experience that comes from hands-on applied research opportunities to the workplace,” added Patterson.

“On behalf of our family and our employees, we are incredibly proud to invest in Niagara College through its Achieving Dreams Campaign,” says Sheila (Walker) Bonapace, one of the Walker Industries’ shareholders.  “For businesses like ours, that depend on skilled workers that our college educates and trains, it’s important that we support this campaign. The future of our region depends on it.”

Walker Industries is a fifth-generation family business with its roots in Niagara, and facilities across Canada and the U.S. The company comprises a diversified group of companies, including aggregates and road building, emulsions and waste management businesses.  The company’s head office is in Niagara – as are several of its operating facilities. 

Niagara College’s research and innovation division has a solid track record of helping Niagara’s small and medium-sized manufacturers innovate.  This new facility will allow it to increase the number of manufacturers it can assist, and expand the menu of services it can provide. Groundbreaking for construction of the new manufacturing innovation centre took place on March 18, 2015, with construction completion anticipated for early 2016.

“Innovation is critical to the economic growth of our region and Niagara College is committed to creating stronger links with business to foster innovation,” said Marc Nantel, associate vice present of Research and Innovation at Niagara College. “Manufacturing accounts for 16 per cent of Niagara’s GDP, with more than 900 companies employing 21,000 people – or one in nine Niagara workers.  We’re committed to help them grow their business and with growth comes opportunities for new jobs.”

Key Facts:


Capital Vision 2016


Capital Vision 2016 is a $55 million project that will provide new and expanded facilities at the Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses to support growth, enhance the student experience, and expand Niagara College’s research and innovation capabilities.

Capital Vision 2016 is funded by the provincial government, Niagara College funds, and the Achieving Dreams Campaign, which will raise the community portion of the project.

The first phase of the project include Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at the Welland campus, and an expansion of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.

The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre will significantly enhance Niagara College’s applied research projects, where faculty and student research teams work with small- and medium-sized manufacturers to innovate and solve operational challenges. Niagara College broke ground on the project in March, 2015 and it is scheduled to be completed in early 2016.

The expansion of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute supports Niagara College’s position as Canada’s premier college for food and fermentation sciences, and will help meeting growing demand for its culinary, wine and brewery programs. The expansion will begin in summer, 2015 and is scheduled for completion in fall, 2016.

Subsequent phases of Capital Vision 2016 will include enhanced spaces for academic support and student life, and support Niagara College’s enhanced model for student services.  The plan features inspiring learning spaces and environments and new fitness and recreation spaces that support students’ health and wellness.

Achieving Dreams Campaign


The Achieving Dreams Campaign is raising $7 million in community support for Niagara College’s Capital Vision 2016.

·         $4 million will go towards campus redevelopment;

·         $2 million will support student scholarships, bursaries, study-work abroad and student leadership development opportunities; and

·         $1 million will be used to purchase instructional equipment and learning resources to help make students work ready.

The $1.2 million commitment from the Walker Family and Walker Industries Holdings Limited is the largest corporate gift in Niagara College’s history.

This gift brings the total raised to $3 million towards the $7 million goal thanks to generous support from more than 400 donors to the Achieving Dreams Campaign. 

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