It was quite a day for Greg Rickford, as he returned to the Experimental Lakes area yesterday. During his update, the Kenora-Rainy River MPP and regional cabinet minister talked about how the transition from government agency to a new funding model has helped spur growth.

"There was no government -- no provincial or federal government -- that could bring this asset to this place," he said.

As part of his visit, the minister for northern development announced $30,000 for design work to help build new facilities, as well as $2 million in operating money that is being leveraged to bring more than $10 million worth of research.

"Two million is really more than five times that, in terms of real value to attracing investors from the industrial sector," he said.

Rickford noted investments from petroleum producers and pipeline makers will help studies, such as the impact of oil spills on freshwater lakes.

"The other important piece for me personally, in terms of a legacy here, was to support the architectural design of what we thought this asset needed all along," the minister continued.

This included new buildings to house researchers, as well as visits from students and the public. These were developments Rickford didn't think were possible, if the facility had depended only on public money from governments. As part of the previous Tory government in Ottawa, his part in moving the research facility from government agency to a privately-run operation was heavily criticized.

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Rickford wants to work with IJC, ELA