Family uses $1 million to give back

The Marslands, whose business has been based in K-W since 1929, donated to the GIE building

Photo by Bach Nguyen
Photo by Bach Nguyen

A $1-million donation has been made to Wilfrid Laurier University’s new Global Innovation Exchange building from a local family.

When asked why he and his family made the donation, Larry Marsland had one answer: “Because we live in Waterloo.”

According to Marsland, his family wanted to give back to their community and thought the best place to do it was through education.

“Our business is in Waterloo and we’ve prospered in this community and we hold the two universities in the highest esteem, and we think that they’ve helped us in our business,” he explained.

Marsland and his children, Brad and Melanie, own and manage Marsland Centre Limited in uptown Waterloo. The business owns and develops portfolios of commercial and industrial real estate.

The family business started out in 1973 and grew from Marsland’s father’s company, Marsland Engineering Limited, which was also located in

Waterloo in 1929. The company sold a diverse range of electromechanical equipment and was a major supplier for IBM.

After Leigh Instruments bought the company in 1969, Larry continued as president until 1972 when they launched Marsland Centre Limited.

The money from the Marslands’ donation is being used to help construct the building on University Avenue, which will be home to Laurier’s school of business and economics and the department of mathematics.

The money will be given to the “Startup Fund in the Entrepreneurial Business School,” which will reportedly allow some of the best investors in Ontario to come in and help students.

The estimated cost of the project is $103 million, which includes renovations to the Peters building. The government of Ontario announced a

$72.6-million investment in the GIE building in 2011 and the remaining $30 million is to be raised through Laurier’s “developmental efforts” and sponsorship.

“All in all we feel very, very pleased with what they’re doing and it’s going to produce kids who are better equipped to handle business problems in the future,” said Marsland.

According to Marsland, the family decided to donate because they knew how the school worked in education and where the money will go to help students.

They were also encouraged to help out the university by people in the community.

So far, Marsland explained they’ve received very positive feedback for their contribution.

“I just thought there was really good leadership at Wilfrid Laurier and that’s an even further reason to support it.”

The Marslands are also being recognized for their donation: a lecture hall on the first floor of the GIE building will be named in honour of the family.

The building is set to be completed in 2015, with full occupancy by the 2015 fall academic term.

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