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May. 27, 2022 | Friday
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Niagara College opens new innovation centre, named after Marotta family
Angela Marotta, Melissa Marotta Paolicelli, Louise Marotta and Guiseppe Paolicelli in front of the new Marotta Family Innovation Complex on Tuesday for the grand opening. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Tuesday was a day of fresh starts and new investments as community, innovation and future endeavours came together at the grand opening of the Marotta Family Innovation Complex at Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.

The family of developer Benny Marotta donated $1 million to the college for the new building at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre, which will see three research areas in the four-storey complex and boasts more than 50,000 square feet. The donation was originally announced in April 2018,

The complex was named for the family of Benny and Louise Marotta, who own Solmar Development Corp., and their daughters Melissa Marotta Paolicelli and Angela Marotta, who own Two Sisters Vineyards.

The college’s Student Administrative Council also donated $5.45 million for a new fitness centre inside the complex, said Tom Price, president of the student administration.

“It’ll benefit the students on campus. So certainly, the opportunities for them for that applied research and hands-on learning that the college prides itself on,” Price said.

As for the donation from the Marotta family, Price said it’s incredible to see so much support from the community and local families and businesses.

“Just a huge congratulations. It really is just those people in the community that go above and beyond for students on campus, so a thank you for their generous support,” he said.

Angela Marotta said she is proud to be able to contribute to the growth in the community through her family’s donation, while also benefiting from the college’s contribution to the workforce.

“We’ve invested in the future. There’s so many graduates form Niagara College that have worked with Two Sisters and Kitchen 76 from its inception. It is because of so many of these graduating students that we have reached our success,” she said.

“Our winemaker (Adam Pearce) was a graduate of Niagara College. Through him we won best small performing winery in Canada in 2015.”

Financial contributions for the new complex also included $8.7 million from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

The provincial government also kicked in $1.55 million, plus $816,000 from the Ontario Research Fund and $816,000 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s College-Industry fund. The Region of Niagara also contributed $1.4 million.

Outgoing president of Niagara College Dan Patterson was quick to thank all of the organizations and levels of government that helped make the new complex a reality.

“To bring industry and innovation together, that’s when magic happens,” he said.

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey and St . Catharines MP Christ Bittle  also were on hand and announced a nearly $13 million investment across Niagara Region from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Through the new federal funding, Niagara College will get up to $5 million to establish a Greenhouse Technology Network in collaboration with Vineland Research Innovation Centre.

Another $5 million will go to Brock University to establish the Brock-Niagara Validation, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute, and Niagara Falls will get nearly $3 million, in partnership with Ryerson University and Spark Niagara, to establish the Niagara Falls-Ryerson Innovation Hub.

With the opening of the new complex and the federal funding announcement on the first day of classes Tuesday, Patterson said, “Back to school takes on a whole new meaning.”