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SUBJECT: Stephenville Airport Corporation and Marine Institute Officially Open Safety and Emergency Response Training (SERT) Centre

DATE: Nov. 20

STEPHENVILLE, NL - The Stephenville Airport Corporation and the Marine Institute officially opened the Safety and Emergency Response Training (SERT) Centre today in Stephenville, NL.

The SERT Centre provides safety and emergency response training for the fish harvesting and marine transportation sectors in western Newfoundland; the industrial and oil and gas sectors in the province and the aviation sector in Atlantic Canada. All of these sectors require safety and emergency response training; however, each differs in terms of the governing regulations, volume, timing and type of training needed. The programs offered at the SERT Centre meet the demands of these training requirements and improve accessibility where, to date, access has been minimal.

In February 2003, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) supported the establishment of the SERT Centre with $1,040,921 in start-up funding from the Strategic Community Investment Fund (SCIF). These funds have been used to enhance facilities at the Stephenville Airport including the aircraft firefighting simulator and classrooms, purchase equipment and hire and train faculty.

"ACOA has a long history of partnering with the Marine Institute to improve its ability to deliver high quality educational programs and training in Newfoundland and Labrador," said the Honourable Gerry Byrne, minister of state for ACOA. "The SERT Centre will expand post-secondary training facilities on the west coast of our province and will contribute to the long term sustainability of the Stephenville area."

"We're are pleased that the Institute can offer safety and emergency training to not only local industry but to sectors throughout Atlantic Canada," says Leslie O'Reilly, executive director of the Marine Institute. "This new Centre will showcase the state-of-the-art facilities and high quality programs available here in Stephenville and contribute to its economy over the long-term."

Paul Gallant, chair of the Stephenville Airport Corporation, agrees. "We believe this facility will enhance the viability of our airport and contribute to economic development in the Stephenville area. Already we have conducted training with firefighters from the Halifax and St. John's airports and provided firefighter training for the new town of Natuashish."

The Marine Institute's training programs will make use of existing facilities at the Stephenville Airport, specifically a fire training field and equipment, considered to be among the best in Canada. The SERT centre will also avail of office and classroom space at the airport.

The combination of these assets brings a new capability to the region, enables re-activation of the aviation fire training facility and strengthens the safety and emergency response training capability provincially and regionally. The estimated impact on the economy over the three-year lifespan of the project is $3.2 million.

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