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Spotlight on IRP Recipients: Medalta

Funding will help social enterprise target growth

[box] The Investment Readiness Program is a Government of Canada program. As the Government of Canada explains: “The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) is a 2-year $50 million pilot program designed to help advance Social Innovation and Social Finance (SI/SF) in Canada by building on existing supports to help catalyze community-led solutions to persistent social and environmental challenges. The pilot will provide a learning opportunity to inform future direction on how best to support and mobilize the social finance sector.” Learn more here.

This blog series by the Trico Charitable Foundation spotlights successful grant recipients of the first IRP round of grants who reside in Alberta or have received the Social EnterPrize. The goal of this series is to help inspire, inform, and nurture the ability of social entrepreneurship to close the gaps in Canadian society. [/box]

It began in 1912 as a pottery factory. Since then, Medalta has transformed into an innovative and industrial non-profit museum, contemporary ceramic arts facility, art gallery, and community hub. Located in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Medalta is dedicated to the restoration and development of Medalta Potteries National Historic Site and maintaining the 150 acre Historic Clay District as a world-class artistic and cultural hub.

The IRP funds Medalta received are being used to increase production volume, product selection, and capacity of their Working Pottery to enter into larger wholesale contracts, through upgrades of production and safety equipment. Mike Onieu, Executive Director of Medalta explains:

“We purchased two electric kilns, which are used for production, as well as the computer controls that go with those kilns. We purchased a number of ceramic molds that are also required for the production of certain products. And also, this is probably my favorite part, a dust extraction system. We had a very old and rather inefficient dust extraction system and being able to replace that really improves the health and safety of the process.”

Mike shares their strategic and long-term plans:

“In regards to timelines, the expansion of production is happening right now. Our goal for that is a 20% increase in the pottery production. The timeline for the potential movement of the entire production facility to another site is more within the five to 10 year range.”

Looking to the future, Mike is eager to continue the hard work Medalta has accomplished so far and applauds the growth of social enterprise:

“While we are a charity, I think it’s very important to always be looking at multiple sources of revenue. I think social enterprise is an excellent area of growth, and one that an increasing number of charities should look at. Our own experience has certainly been very positive. I would say it is well worth the effort to pursue social enterprise opportunities.”
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