Nfld. & Labrador

MUN, CNA partner with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper to expand Corner Brook operations

A new post-secondary education centre in Corner Brook will focus on research and innovation in the forestry sector.

Vacant building to become forestry research hub with nearly $9M in funding

The former human resources building owned by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. has been pegged as the new home of a research and innovation centre shared by the province's post-secondary institutions. It's been vacant for 16 years. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

"Partnership" was the most common word flying around the announcement of the new Corner Brook Centre for Research and Innovation on Monday.

The new centre will be operated by Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic, with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited putting up a vacant building and signing on to handle the maintenance of it in the future.

The goal is to transform the company's vacant human resources building into a leader of research for the forestry sector and help further the life of the town's mill.

"This allows the building to have new life, and certainly as part of that is training for our employees, which is a very important aspect," said Darren Pelley, vice-president of Kruger, which operates CBPPL. "But it also allows for the research to occur, which really brings all the key players together."

Darren Pelley is the general manager of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, as well as a vice-president of parent company Kruger. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Eight different speakers took to the podium to describe how their respective groups will play into the new centre once it is built, at a time when all the groups involved are feeling financial pressures.

It's not much to look at now, but three levels of government have stitched together $8.9 million to turn the old building into something new. 

Money will benefit mill workers

The province is contributing $5.3 million to create an "employee-sponsored training program," which will be developed and administered by CNA. Speaking on behalf of the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency, MP Seamus O'Regan said this will make the mill more sustainable and competitive in the future.

The sentiment was echoed by the premier.

"This investment is about sustainability and succession," said Dwight Ball. "Some 450 jobs are attached to this [mill]. It's working with Kruger and Grenfell [Campus], Memorial, CNA and the City of Corner Brook and the federal government [so] that this mill and the forestry sector remains sustainable for the future."

Premier Dwight Ball says the new centre will help make the forestry sector, particularly Corner Brook's mill, more sustainable in the future. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The rest of the funding is split between ACOA, provincial departments, the City of Corner Brook and $1 million from an innovation fund sponsored by utility giant Emera.

Several dignitaries made reference to the current condition of the building, which was built in the 1950s and looks worse for wear after sitting vacant for 16 years.

"With a little bit of makeup and a bit of Botox, it's going to be looking great again and an icon in the middle of town," said MP Gudie Hutchings.

The building needs to be cleaned out, and then construction is expected to start in the fall.

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