Edmonton, AB – The Rural Alberta Development Fund Board of Directors approved $950,000 in funding towards a regional food processing and food sciences training facility in northeast Alberta. The Food Processing/Food Sciences Training Facility project, led by Portage College St. Paul Campus, will provide an innovative teaching and processing facility that will help establish a local food industry in the region while becoming a preferred food sciences training institution in Alberta.
“Localizing food production will provide local food producers with access to a certified micro-food processor, enabling them to get their products market-ready,” said the Honourable Verlyn Olson, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Diversifying the region’s economy through value-added agriculture like the Food Processing/Food Sciences Training Facility will stimulate economic growth within the rural communities it serves.”
The Food Processing/Food Sciences Training Facility will provide processing capacity and food sciences technology for local food growers looking to bring their products into the commercial retail market. An educational component will offer food sciences training for certificate and diploma programs through Portage College’s St. Paul Campus, opening up opportunities for youth and community residents to develop hands-on skills for use in the growing food industry.
“The new programs being offered by Portage College St. Paul Campus at the Food Processing/Food Sciences Training Facility will bring additional space for over 140 students,” said Marie Logan, Chair of the Board of Directors, Rural Alberta Development Fund. “The experiential learning for both students and local businesses will build relationships and networks while strengthening the workforce capacity in northeast Alberta and stimulating growth of a regional food industry.”
New programs to the region include a Bachelor of Science in Food Technologies, a Hospitality Management certification and a Food Processing Technologist diploma program. The training facility will eventually become a small-scale incubator for smaller food producers in the region.
Along with Portage College, Community Futures St. Paul is a key partner in the project, supplying their technical business expertise to provide counselling and financial advice for local companies and entrepreneurs. Additional support comes from the Northeast Alberta Food Marketers Association and the Agrivalue Leduc Food Processing Facility, who will work with Portage College on training and product development as well as providing technical advice and support for the set-up phase.
Funding from the Rural Alberta Development Fund will go towards training food science instructors/technicians, hiring administrative and support staff as well as developing ongoing course material for the post-secondary programming. The project’s anticipated completion date is December 2013.
Rural Alberta Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. In 2007, it was capitalized with $100 million by the Government of Alberta as part of its Rural Development Strategy. As a strategic funder and essential resource for Albertans, RADF has fulfilled its mandate and succeeded in committing $100 million worth of innovation and growth across the province.
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For more information, contact:
Rural Alberta Development Fund
780.835.3279 office; 780.251.0119 cell
VP Student & College Services