Opinion: New MacEwan constructing would profit college students, enterprise, downtown Edmonton

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Like cities internationally, Edmonton’s downtown was hit laborious by the pandemic. For nearly 17 months, workplace buildings sat practically empty as hundreds labored from residence. Empty espresso outlets, abandoned shops, and “For Lease” indicators turned a standard sight all through the core. Fewer folks, in flip, led to extra crime, fuelling security issues for the few who remained.

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As these results proceed to linger, it’s changing into clear Edmonton wants revolutionary, long-term options to revitalize the town’s core. For a downtown to thrive, economically, socially, and culturally, it requires a vital mass of individuals. And that’s what we’re lacking. Even when each former downtown worker returns to their workplace because the pandemic fades away, it nonetheless gained’t be sufficient. We have to appeal to much more folks downtown.

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Earlier this 12 months, the provincial authorities introduced a panel to search out methods to assist appeal to funding and reinvigorate Edmonton, significantly our core. Whereas we await the panel’s findings, it’s essential to notice an identical working group struck for Calgary advisable growing the presence of post-secondary college students downtown.

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The reason being easy: good, formidable college students create vibrancy. They discover, innovate, and are wanting to expertise new issues. After we take a look at profitable communities throughout the globe that work to draw the most effective and brightest minds, we all know they’ve a substantial aggressive benefit. Waterloo, Kingston, London, these are Canadian cities which were constructed round key post-secondary establishments and they’re reaping the advantages.

Edmonton already has an edge over most cities on this regard — a longtime college within the metropolis’s core. MacEwan has lengthy prided itself on being “Edmonton’s downtown college.” It’s not nearly location, nevertheless. It’s a couple of way of thinking, together with a extra forward-looking, built-in method to training.

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MacEwan’s concentrate on educating permits college students to forge stronger relationships with their professors and extra significant social connections with their fellow college students. By way of the mix of practicums and proximity to companies, NGOs, and different organizations, MacEwan offers college students a chance to accumulate real-world expertise earlier than they formally enter the workforce.

As seasoned businesspeople, we will attest to the standard of MacEwan graduates; they arrive job-ready and wanting to deal with new challenges. Being located within the downtown core provides these graduates each day alternatives to work together with executives throughout a variety of sectors. For each the downtown core and the enterprise group, MacEwan has been a particularly constructive drive, cultivating the following era of leaders proper subsequent door.

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Now, MacEwan has greater ambitions. Because the world grapples with a rising labour disaster and our province offers with a transitioning expertise hole, MacEwan is stepping as much as the plate. The college it endeavouring to develop its pupil physique considerably by 2030. It’s formidable however actionable and that is coming at a time when our metropolis wants it most. A vital facet of this ambition is further house.

The college plans to assemble a seven-storey, 376,000-square-foot constructing, which can present room for 7,500 extra college students. A brand new constructing connected to MacEwan’s campus is probably the most environment friendly method to develop. By consolidating its downtown campus, the college will save $1.8 million in annual working prices. Extra importantly, nevertheless, a single linked campus will improve the expertise of scholars, together with offering higher entry to providers, occasions, campus tradition, and different college students.

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Let’s be clear: location issues. Being a place-based metropolitan college situated in Edmonton’s city-centre core, MacEwan integrates its college students into their surrounding atmosphere, enabling them to use their educational information in the true world, in actual time. The improved campus will likely be a robust magnet for folks whose information, skills, and creativity will assist gasoline revitalization the place it’s wanted most. Between college students, lecturers, and help employees, MacEwan already brings 20,000 folks each day downtown. Downtown Edmonton wants life, and the college has confirmed it may ship.

MacEwan is understood for educating greatness. This new constructing will empower the college to grow to be even better. Our metropolis and our province have every little thing to realize.

John Day and Rob Seidel are co-chairs of MacEwan College’s capital fundraising marketing campaign.

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