The University of Toronto Mississauga took another step Thursday towards broadening its post-graduate business studies with the groundbreaking for its new Innovation Complex.
The four-level, $35 million building will house the campus’ new business school, the Institute for Management and Innovation, which will offer post-graduate industry-specific degrees like the university’s existing Master’s in biotechnology.
Finding skilled workers, researchers and managers is a critical workplace problem for many Mississauga businesses, so such new university programs are welcomed by pharma, technology and advanced manufacturing companies eager to fill job shortages.
In fact, strong post-secondary education is a key competitive advantage for cities trying to lure new companies, investments and jobs in the growing knowledge-based economy.
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said education has become a high priority throughout the world and the city wants to expand its colleges and universities as well.
Besides the UTM move, Sheridan College plans to double the size of its campus in downtown Mississauga, where it has its main business school.
“It’s so important that we make sure our priority is the very best of education available to our young people here at home,” McCallion said.
The mayor also expressed hopes for an engineering school on the campus in the future. “We can’t be behind,” she told the crowd of more than 100 people. “We have to lead the way in providing the opportunity for our young people to excel.”
McCallion’s comments follow Mississauga city council’s recent vocal support for providing UTM with $10 million over 10 years for the Innovation Complex’s operating costs. City staff are studying the plan and will report this fall.
While some municipal politicians worried about other funding commitments such as the planned Hurontario LRT, Ward 5 councilor Bonnie Crombie said the city definitely sees the benefit of investing in the new business school.
“It speaks to our innovation agenda and that’s where Mississauga’s future really is,” she told YourMississaugaBiz.com. “Our economic growth is reliant on innovation.”
UTM’s commitment to architecture was certainly noticed by the Toronto firm Moriyama and Techima, which designed the Innovation Complex.
Principal architect Carol Phillips said consultations with UTM faculty and staff actually helped shape the look, amenities and overall layout of the new building, which is slated to open in September, 2014.
“We’ve never really worked with a steering committee that has helped us prioritize the vision for the project so much,” she said.
She had also had also been a fan of the growing campus for years and had even taken “tourist trips” to check out new additions. “I’ve been coming ever since the Athletic facility was built,” she said, noting the campus’ history of working with design-builds. “It’s kind of a dream.”
The builders of the Innovation Complex are PCL Constructors Canada Inc., a company that also has a 40,000 square foot permanent modular construction plant in Mississauga on Hurontario Street.
University of Toronto president David Naylor, UTM Principal Deep Saini and UofT Chancellor Michael Wilson were also present at the ceremony.