A $1.225 million matching gift from the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan is the first major contribution to Parkland College's capital campaign for its planned Trades and Technology Centre.
The donation was unveiled at press conference in Yorkton on June 20. Between now and December 31, 2012, PotashCorp will match all community and industry contributions to the campaign up to a maximum of $1.225 million.
It's a jumpstart to Parkland College's first-ever major capital campaign.
"This is just the beginning," said college president Dr. Fay Myers. "It's a leadership gift, and I'm quite confident that with this challenge, our community and region will come forward, businesses will come forward, and we will match those dollars within the next six months."
The proposed Trades and Technology Centre, announced in 2010 but showing little progress since then, is a 24,000 square foot facility that would produce about 350 skilled graduates per year and upgrade the skills of an additional 2,000 workers annually.
For PotashCorp, which is facing a growing skilled worker shortage in Saskatchewan, supporting local trades training makes sense, said Lee Knafelc, the company's vice-president of human resources and administration.
"Between retirements and the new jobs that will be needed after our expansions, we will be looking for hundreds of new people to fill permanent jobs in our company in new roles here in east-central Saskatchewan."
"We want to ensure that we're ahead of that curve," added Knafelc, "and that we have the right people trained up in time to staff our large expansion projects."
With a projected cost of $14.9 million for Phase 1 of the multi-phase Trades and Technology Centre construction, the college project will have a long road ahead even if the local fundraising campaign and the matching PotashCorp dollars are fully realized.
Parkland College is counting on the government to provide the bulk of the money. A proposal to the province is currently under review, and Myers hopes that this new showing of industry support will improve the college's chances of securing funding for the project in the next provincial budget.
"We'll be working with them very closely in the next six months to hopefully make this a reality," said the college president.