Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to announce the creation of a new centre that will incubate and nurture social enterprises.
The Centre for Ecological and Economic Resilience will develop policy, design, and enterprise innovations for a resilient economy that improves social equity and environmental protection.
The centre will occupy 6,500 square feet of space on the fourth floor of CMU’s building at 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., formerly the School for the Deaf.
“This Centre will serve as a generative hub of partnering social enterprises with mandates towards economic and environmental health and well being,” said CMU President Dr. Cheryl Pauls. “As partnering entities take tenancy in the space they will form a collective incubator.”
“These enterprises also will extend their thinking and doing through partnership with the education, research and service of CMU,” Pauls added. “Diverse fields of study and community engagement will connect through the Centre.”
James Magnus-Johnston, Instructor of Political Studies and Economics at CMU, has been contracted as Director of the Centre.
In addition to his academic background, Magnus-Johnston has entrepreneurial experience as one of the co-owners of Fools & Horses Coffee. He also serves with a number of organizations, including Assiniboine Credit Union, the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, the Green Action Centre, and Transition Winnipeg. He is also a singer and actor.
“James’ entrepreneurship at the crux of business, economic, environmental, political, societal, cultural, spiritual and performing arts communities rings true in the classroom for CMU students, and will soundly shape the development of this Centre,” Pauls said.
Magnus-Johnston began his work last month and says that one of the things that excites him about the Centre is that it is designed specifically for collaboration.
The Centre will serve as an academic hub, allowing partnering organizations to collaborate on research among other partners at the centre, take part in educational and research seminars, consultations, and conferences, as well as present opportunities for students at the university to take part in various experiential learning or “co-op” options.
“There is a lot of grassroots enthusiasm about this initiative from folks who are interested in taking up residence or collaborating on projects” Magnus-Johnston said. “When you can get innovative thinkers from intersecting disciplines in the same room together, I think we can move some projects forward more effectively.”
Earlier this month, the provincial and federal governments announced more than $1.1 million in joint funding to create the Centre, which will cost about $1.7 million. CMU will contribute the remainder of the balance.
Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart and Doug Eyolfson, MP for Charleswood – St. James – Assiniboia – Headingley joined CMU President Cheryl Pauls at the announcement, which took place on Friday, December 9 on campus in Marpeck Commons.
“Investing in research facilities that create stronger linkages between post-secondary and local research institutions will create new opportunities for Manitoba students to gain hands-on experience and build a promising career,” Wishart said. “We are pleased to support this initiative that will encourage dynamic partnerships and help spur innovation in our economy, while strengthening Manitoba’s position as a leader in environmental stewardship.”
Eyolfson added that the government is proud to support the project.
“This investment is indicative of the important work CMU is doing to focus on the needs of the community, as well as providing students with the education and training they need to join a strong, healthy middle class,” he said.
The Centre for Ecological and Economic Resilience is slated to open in spring 2018.