By Rick Clement

Red River College is tearing down buildings and digging a hole in the heart of the Exchange District.

The College is planning development of the new $95 million Red River College Innovation Centre located on Elgin Avenue.

“We are now in the design stage and we expect to be building within twelve months,” said RRC President Paul Vogt in September.

According to Diamond Schmitt Architects, the centre will be a 100,000-square-foot development repurposed downtown heritage building, used to provide state-of-the-art facilities.

At this time no deadlines have been finalized and the college is not releasing any specific details on the design or administration of the Innovation Centre.

A teaser from Diamond Schmitt does hint at some innovative design.

Among the features are a pitch session room and ‘collision spaces’ that accommodate students working alongside industry and social service partners.”

The Centre is expected to cost $95.4M with $40.6M coming from the federal government. The rest will be paid for by the college. The provincial government has approved loans of up to $54.8 million in order to supplement RRC’s current fundraising campaign.

The federal funding will be coming from the Post-Secondary Institution Strategic Investment Fund. This fund is designed to help Canadian colleges and universities develop skilled workers that can compete internationally.

“This historic investment is a down payment on the government’s vision to position Canada as a global centre for innovation,” said Jim Carr, federal minister of natural resources, in a news release. Adding this will help to make Canada a leader in science and technology while adding middle-class jobs.

“We are talking to community leaders across the country,” said Brian Scharfstein who is in charge of The Capital Campaign. The Capital Campaign is taking the lead on fundraising to secure $54.8 million in order to complete the Innovation Centre.

“We have looked at other institutions that have done major fundraising events and there is an appetite to support education,” said Scharfstein. “People are very specific on where they want their dollars to go. We want to make the brand recognizable globally.” He said.

If achieved, this will be one of the largest fundraising campaigns in the history of the college.

“We have been working with high-level marketing and fundraising professionals,” Scharfstein said.

While Scharfstein insists it is premature to make any public announcements regarding funding, he is confident that this fundraising campaign will be extremely successful in producing a world-class institution.