ESTEVAN — The Municipal Coal Transition Funding Committee has awarded Southeast College a grant of up to $200,000 towards its first-year start-up costs in Estevan to establish Southeast College's Centre of Sustainable Innovation. The official presentation took place Monday at the college's Estevan campus.
The centre will be home to diverse interests including applied research, sustainability, innovation, just-in-time learning and entrepreneurship. A major driver of business growth across industries in the province and across the nation is sustainable innovation.
"Southeast College is thrilled to receive this grant. The establishment of this centre will assist in attracting investment and advancing the development and diversification of the southeast region's economy," stated Dr. Vicky Roy, CEO and president of Southeast College.
Roy added, "We are fortunate to have a strong team at Southeast College, and Tania Hlohovsky Andrist and Darcy Nolte from our strategic development division have been instrumental in obtaining this grant and moving this new centre forward."
In October 2022, Southeast College and the University of Regina announced a memorandum of understanding with the intent to join forces to provide academic programming, career training, continuing education, applied research and international student support services to help meet education, economic and labour market needs. The partnership is an important step forward in expanding alternative and sustainable energy education in rural communities in southeast Saskatchewan.
"On behalf of the Municipal Coal Transition Funding Committee, we are proud to have been able to support this application and we are confident that the money allocated will be used to the greatest benefit," said Mayor Roy Ludwig. "We are excited to be a part of this initiative with Southeast College and, having had the privilege to work with this extraordinary group, knowing this funding will assist the areas in reaching their greatest potential."
The college’s president and CEO explained that the centre will work on finding sustainable energy solutions and more opportunities applicable to the region and its people.
"Applied research can be about value-added agriculture, agriculture, sustainable energy, carbon capture, tourism and hospitality management,” she said.
"The difference between applied research in college or polytechnic and research in universities is we are just very action-oriented, working with the industry on problems and to solve issues or challenges … to make it happen. So that's exactly what we will do. But really, it's working with the cities, working with the partners here in the region, and the University of Regina on sustainable energy."
The centre will also help with reskilling the people that will be affected by the transition out of coal-powered energy, Roy added, as the college will also offer the training.
The grant the college received will help the new centre to get off the ground, but Roy said they will be looking for more funding and grants shortly. They are also currently hiring a vice-president of innovation and strategic development, who will take care of the centre.
Roy also said that they will have more announcements, hopefully, come spring as they plan to potentially expand the college and provide even more opportunities for local, out-of-province and international students.
At this time, they have the space dedicated to the needs of the new centre inside the Estevan campus, but that may change if the college moves forward the way they envision.
And the Centre of Sustainable Innovation is already up and running.
"Now with the $200,000 grant from the Coal Transition Fund, it's official and Southeast College has a new Centre of Sustainable Innovations," Roy said.
"It's going fast, fast and furious, and I think, it's great. The region is very, very intrapreneurial. The city is intrapreneurial, the mayor, and it's a great place [to start the centre]. And it's a very, very nice community, a nice college, so I'm really happy that my visions fit the ones of the community."
The Municipal Coal Transition Funding Committee consists of Ken Bonokoski, Mayor, Town of Bienfait; Richard Tessier, Reeve of the RM of Coalfields, James Trobert, Councillor with the RM of Estevan, Ashley Galloway, City of Estevan Economic Development committee, Tony Sernick, Councillor with the City of Estevan, and Mayor Ludwig.
"As a leading provider of innovative courses, programs, and applied research services, Southeast College is perfectly positioned to continue to improve the lives of communities and businesses. We deliver flexible programming and competency-based training to educate and reskill workers in our region through partnerships with municipalities, educational institutions, and Indigenous communities," the college said.
"Southeast College is proud to offer innovative and flexible programming that encourages students to learn where they live."