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Okanagan Dodge gift revs anticipation for Trades Training Complex
Okanagan College Media Release

McAuley_Gabelhouse Dec 2014A local auto dealer sees bright futures for students in Okanagan College’s trades programs, prompting the company to invest in the $33-million Trades Training Complex at the College’s Kelowna Campus to help make those futures a reality.

Okanagan Chrysler Jeep Dodge has pledged $100,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation for the $7-Million Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign that supports the expansion and renewal of the trades complex.

“Having run Okanagan Dodge for the past 12 years, and having seen the way Kelowna has embraced my business in that time, I began looking for a way to give back to the community that would truly have an impact,” says Dean McAuley, Dealer Principal for Okanagan Chrysler Jeep Dodge. “When I heard about the campaign for the new trades training complex, and after I learned more about the facility and the opportunities it will provide for students, I knew it was the right fit.”

The donation will go towards automotive shop space where students gain job-ready skills with state of the art equipment and technology. 

“I have Okanagan College graduates in my shop now. These young tradespeople are the wave of the future,” says McAuley.McAuley_Gabelhouse_Butler Dec 2014

“With a province-wide skills gap looming, Okanagan Dodge’s commitment is an example of industry stepping forward to help us meet that need,” says Jim Hamilton, President, Okanagan College. “It is encouraging to see such strong support for trades training – and a clear demand for trades workers – in our own region. We are grateful for their investment in our students’ futures.”

This donation is one of several from the local automotive industry. Members of the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association were among the first to donate towards the new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna Campus when the campaign was announced earlier this year.

“We in the industry know there is a shortage of trained automotive tradespeople projected in the coming years and we have to be proactive,” says Adam Rich, Auto Sector Chair of the Bright Horizons Campaign committee. “Supporting the training of new apprentices is investing in the health and growth of the industry for the future. The new trades training complex will be a hub for trades education in B.C., as one of the largest most sustainable facilities in the province.”

The $7-million campaign, which includes $5 million for capital costs and an additional $2 million for student and program support, will help complete the $33-million project. The complex is expected to be completed in the spring of 2016.

The Bright Horizons campaign launched in October to raise funds and awareness for the Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna Campus of Okanagan College. The new facility will provide students with a state of the art learning environment and reflect Okanagan College’s commitment to sustainability. To learn more about the campaign and opportunities to be involved in shaping the future of Okanagan College, please visit Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in B.C.
Business student and spouse hope they have recipe for success
Okanagan College Media Release

Matt and Nicole Knegt Dec 2014Third-year Okanagan College Business Administration student Matthew Knegt and his wife Nicole are in the throes of a real-life adventure in business development that is focused – at least for now – on the online activities of one of the world’s best-known chefs, Britain’s Jamie Oliver.

The Knegts have been operating a small gluten-free bakery for the past three years, well-known and patronized by customers of the Kelowna Farmers’ Market. 

Four Spoons Gluten Free Bakery was an enterprise born of Nicole’s need for a special diet because of her allergies and food sensitivities. In January 2014, the couple decided to take the business down another path, one focused on education, special diets, and cookbooks. In November they closed their bakery. An effort to raise funds to produce the cookbook failed, but they realized during the process that what they loved to do was to produce videos.

“We thought ‘why not send a creative package to Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube?’ Jamie is socially focused, Matt and Nicole Knegt Cardboard Toast Dec 2014which we love, and his Food Tube channel is innovative and is all about quality.”

“We decided that if we were going to garner the attention of Oliver’s production company, we had to do something different,” says Matthew. That involved getting a local company to laser-cut a large piece of cardboard in the shape of a piece of toast, and write on it “Gluten-free bread can taste like cardboard. A special-diets Food Tube channel could help change this.” (Food Tube is the largest food-focused community in Europe and boasts nearly a million subscribers).

Nicole took the challenge of getting the production company’s attention a step further. The video produced for consideration involved taking a recipe from one of Oliver’s latest cookbooks for profiteroles (creampuffs) and turning it into a gluten-free, delicious recipe.

The Knegts are the only Canadians who have so far cracked the Fresh Talent playlist. Seven of the nine competitors are from London, England, and the other is from Dublin, Ireland. The Food Tube producers have dubbed Nicole “the Canadian Queen of gluten-free baking.”

Matt and Nicole Knegt Profiterole Dec 2014While the couple have been developing their business Matthew has been savouring his studies at Okanagan College in the business administration program, and he’s found the recipe for education remarkable. “The small class sizes are great but what I appreciate most are the professors who can teach, impart their knowledge and bring their industry and life experiences to the classroom.”

“Our goal is to develop an online resource that will help people with special diets meet their needs,” explains Matthew. “Social responsibility is in the DNA of our company.”

While the way forward with Four Spoons isn’t mapped at this point, Knegt knows now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Oliver and his enterprises.

And that includes trying to convince as many people as possible to watch their online video and provide a thumbs up for the possible partnership between an Okanagan-based enterprise with one of the world’s best-known, socially-focused chefs. The Knegt’s video can be viewed here.
Kelowna Flightcraft lands with a donation to support trades training complex
Okanagan College Media Release

One of the Okanagan’s best-known businesses has thrown its support behind the campaign to expand and renovate the tradesLapointe Dec 2014 training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Barry Lapointe, CEO and Chairman of Kelowna Flightcraft, has made a $500,000 donation to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign that will help complete the $33-million project.

“I believe that people who have done well in this region should give back,” says Lapointe. “And we feel strongly about supporting post-secondary education.”

Lapointe’s donation to Okanagan College was acknowledged this week by Premier Christy Clark, area MLAs Norm Letnick and Steve Thomson, and several representatives of Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation at Flightcraft’s airport hangar, where a class of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering students were nearing completion of their course.

“Barry sees what’s coming: a shortage of skilled labour, and a tremendous opportunity for trained people,” noted Premier Clark. “He has always supported the creation of more education and career opportunities in the Okanagan, culminating in this generous donation.”

Lapointe’s donation brings the $7-million campaign up over the $3 million mark. The money raised will help complete and equip the trades complex and create support for students who take programs there. The province has contributed $28-million to the project.

The building and renovation project is expected to be complete by spring 2016. Approximately 5,100 square metres of shops and classes will be renovated and an additional 5,500 square metres of shops, classroom and student space are being constructed along KLO Road.

The complex will accommodate approximately 2,600 students annually in a range of trades programs. 

“Barry’s support is a key donation for the campaign,” explains campaign chair Dennis Gabelhouse. “Industry support, from people like Barry, from the automotive industry, from companies like Westwood Electric sends a message to would-be tradespeople that validates their career choices.”

“We know that we are facing a significant skills gap – especially in the trades – in the coming years,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Barry and others understand that and are investing in our future.”

Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in B.C.
Enactus Okanagan College receives three national grants in support of local entrepreneurship
Okanagan College Media Release

Brent Basil Dec 2014Enactus Okanagan College is the only college in Canada and one of only five post-secondary institutions across Canada to receive three or more national partnership grants from Enactus Canada to support entrepreneurship in the Okanagan. 

The grants are evidence that the non-profit student-run organization is making good on its goal of using the power of entrepreneurial action to help individuals in need. 

The Enactus Okanagan College students have already applied funds from two of the grants to encourage social entrepreneurship in young people and have launched a new social enterprise, InnSpire, to generate funds for a homeless shelter in Kelowna. 

The grants are part of the Enactus Canada partnership program and include the Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur Project Partnership sponsored by the RBC Foundation and presented by Futurpreneur, the BDC Entrepreneurs First Project Partnership, and the 3M Canada Problem Solving Project Partnership. 

“Being selected for the three grants goes to show how much effort our team, and our community partners put into our programs,” said Tom Arrowsmith, president of Enactus Okanagan College. “These grants add an extra level of validity to our programs by having them be nationally recognized.”

Dr. Kyleen Myrah is the faculty advisor helping oversee the newly launched InnSpire venture, which is a partnership with Inn From the Cold. The students have created a social enterprise that generates revenue from the sale of donated soap. The funds support Inn From the Cold’s Chandler House and the students get the chance to put their business skills to use.  

“The goal of this project is to run a social enterprise; providing a sustainable source of revenue that also serves to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness, promote the work of the Inn From the Cold organization, and provide long-term employable opportunities for the men in the Chandler house,” said Myrah. 

The Enactus Okanagan College students launched the social enterprise in November using the proceeds from the 3M Project Solving Partnership as seed money. The project has already achieved several thousand dollars in revenues for Inn From the Cold. Future plans for the project include expanding the number of sales locations and the product base to further support the sustainability of the program.

The Unleash Social Business Case Competition funded by RBC and presented by Futurpreneur was hosted at Accelerate Okanagan during Entrepreneurship week in November. This case competition pitted teams of students working together to develop sustainable business plans to address social issues facing our community. 

The finalist from the program presented their case to a panel of judges. Karen Vandergaag, a member of the winning team, described the experience and the winning case.

“When we received the case, my team looked at how we could take a few social issues in our community and bring together some entrepreneurial ideas to come up with a solution,” said Vandergaag. “I got a lot of value from the process of turning our ideas into a concept that would solve some of Kelowna’s pressing social problems.”

The BDC Entrepreneurs First Grant will be used to support the growth and expansion of Venture Okanagan. Venture Okanagan provides a forum for start-ups to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists and other potential funders.  

In addition to connecting startups with investors, Venture Okanagan also provides mentorship and support throughout the multi-week process. This competitive forum will be held again in the spring of 2015.
Westwood Electric donation powers up new electrical controls lab at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College students in the Electrical Trades programs will soon plug into a cutting edge new learning space thanks to a Westwood Dec 2014generous donation of $100,000 from Westwood Electric. 

Westwood’s donation to the Okanagan College Foundation’s “Bright Horizons: Building for Skills” Campaign will support the Trades Training Complex, currently under construction at the Kelowna Campus. The electrical controls lab in the new facility will feature state of the art equipment, technology, and workstations for students.

Westwood’s decision to support the campaign for the Trades Training Complex was based on the recognition that proper training is crucial for maintaining the overall health and growth of trades, both locally and beyond.

“Today's apprentices are tomorrow’s qualified journeypersons, supervisors and industry leaders. The best possible trades training will only further promote the apprentice’s future, opportunities for local business and ultimately the province of British Columbia,” said Jason McCormick, Vice President - Operations and Partner of Westwood Electric, which is celebrating 40 years in business.

“We see this as a very special opportunity to be a part of the campaign behind the Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus,” said McCormick. “We are honoured be involved with what will be one of the largest, most comprehensive and environmentally sustainable trades training facilities in British Columbia.” 

"This support from Westwood is exciting news for Okanagan College and especially so for our students enrolled in the Electrical Trades programs, which is one of our largest trades programs, having grown by over 80 students this year," said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. "The Trades Training Complex will provide students with a learning environment that reflects Okanagan College’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. We thank Westwood for their generous investment in our students and in our College’s mission to transform lives and communities."

Work on the $33-million complex expansion and renovation has begun and is expected to be complete in the spring of 2016. The provincial government has committed $28-million to the project and the Okanagan College Foundation is responsible for raising an additional $7 million; $5 million for capital costs and the remaining $2 million going towards student and program support.

Okanagan College embarked on the expansion to be pro-active in anticipating and meeting industry needs at a time when there is a looming shortage of trades workers.

“We are excited to watch this new facility take shape and look forward to the many benefits it will provide to the apprentices and businesses in our region,” said McCormick.
College students prepare for final round of ICBC after dominating preliminary challenge
Okanagan College Media Release

Derek Cook Dec 2014Okanagan College will send its largest-ever contingent of business students to Kingston in January to compete in the final round of the prestigious Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (ICBC) after 10 students advanced from a competitive preliminary round. 

Five teams of students from the College will compete in the international event, which is held annually at Queen’s University in mid-January. ICBC is Canada’s longest-running undergraduate business case competition. 

This year, more than 140 teams were invited to compete in the preliminary round, only 46 teams advanced. The College will send the second largest number of students to the event – the University of Calgary will send just two more. 

Arguably the most prestigious post-secondary business case competition in the country, the final round of ICBC requires teams of two students to create an innovative and viable business solution to a problem in their field of competition. 

The College will be represented in the areas of accounting, ethics, debate, finance, and management of information systems. 

Okanagan College’s Jared Cook will be heading to ICBC for the second year in a row. Last year he made the finals in accounting. This year he will be joined by his partner Amanda Wright to take on top schools such as Concordia University, the University of Calgary, Brock University and the host Queen’s in the area of finance. 

Cook will be joined at the competition by two familiar faces; his brother Jason will compete in the final round of ethics and his father, professor Derek Cook, will attend the competition as coach of his finance team. 

“Each year that we compete successfully against top business schools across the country and other parts of the world, I become more convinced that our students are receiving a first class business education at Okanagan College and that we are preparing graduates that are the equal of any in Canada,” said professor Cook. “Although I have enjoyed all of my previous trips to Queen’s, this is a special year for me as my two youngest sons, both BBA students at Okanagan College, are in the finals this year. No matter what the outcome, it will be a very memorable year for me.” 

Jason Cook will make his first trip to Queen’s in January as part of the ethics team.

“I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to represent Okanagan College on an international level,” said Jason Cook. “The success I have enjoyed is due in large part to my dedicated partner, to the faculty who have ensured we were prepared for the preliminary round and lastly to my family for providing the competitive motivation.”  
GIS program helps students map out their career
Okanagan College Media Release

Chad Parrent and Teresa Robinson are among those students looking forward to the January start of Okanagan College’s Advanced GIS (Geographic Information Systems) certificate program in Kelowna.

Robinson is adding to her resume as a geophysical technologist and knows there is work waiting for her at the completion of the program. Parrent is among those who have already registered for the 20-week program that provides students with the skills to create maps and gather, edit and manage GIS and GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) data, and manage projects.

The program is a blend of theory and practical application that prepares graduates for work in a variety of sectors including resources, government and with First Nations.

Parrent, who is 34, is anticipating the program will lead him to a career in the region using GIS skills – hopefully with government.

“I’m interested in geography and mapping. That’s what led me to look at the program,” explains Parrent. “Then I spent some time speaking with the instructor (Bruce Ganton), to ensure I knew what I was getting into. I am very interested in the career opportunities associated with the program.”

Robinson, who is looking to re-engage in the workforce, has already identified work that she’ll be able to get at the conclusion of the program. She’s anticipating that the opportunity will exist to work remotely from the Okanagan with companies and projects elsewhere, as well.

The College’s GIS programs had their origins in Salmon Arm several years ago and are primarily based at this campus, but increasing demand has prompted the institution to offer them in Kelowna, as well as in Salmon Arm, explains Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development. (There are February and August intakes in Salmon Arm.)

“I wanted to take the course three years ago, but wasn’t able to travel to Salmon Arm,” says Robinson, “so, yes, I’m really glad it is being offered in Kelowna.”

Part of the program sees students undertake two major projects of their own design and another project of the type they’d find in a typical workplace.

“There is significant and growing need for the skill set that students will develop,” explains Silvestrone. “Mapping and GIS are essential these days to understand data, traffic patterns, demographics, demand patterns, environmental issues . . . You name it, GIS is probably associated with it somehow.”

Students can still apply for the course, which starts Jan. 26. It is eligible for government student assistance. To find out more or apply, visit 

For a full range of program opportunities starting in January, visit