Weekly Activity Reports - April 2014

April 25, 2014

  • With the snow gone, or at least going - finger's crossed - it's maple syrup time in Northern Ontario. The Sault Ste. Marie area in particular has its fair share of companies that tap and sell the sweet Canadian staple locally and internationally. Earlier this week, members of the SSMEDC Business team met with the owners of a maple syrup producer to discuss growth opportunities. The on-site consultation was one of several made by the SSMEDC this week as part of our Business Retention and Expansion Program, which assists companies in their growth initiatives.
  • Tonight and tomorrow, the Bushplane Heritage Centre is hosting a craft beer festival. The event was organized by local entrepreneur and longtime SSMEDC client Steve Alexander. Having owned and operated Loplops lounge-gallery for more than a decade, Steve has worked with the SSMEDC many times over the years on business planning, market analysis, and other growth and sustainability projects. The third annual Festival of Beer will run April 25 from 4 to 9 p.m. and April 26 from 1 to 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.loplops.com.
  • From May 1 to 4, the community is hosting the 2014 Annual General Meeting for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division partnered with the local Chamber of Commerce office to secure and organize this event. The conference is attracting several hundred visitors, which will inject capital into the Sault economy.
  • Last week, a member of the SSMEDC Business team travelled to Blind River to deliver an outreach seminar. The startup info session attracted more than a dozen people. The goal of these seminars is to provide information and support to aspiring entrepreneurs. With part of our funding coming from the Province of Ontario, the SSMEDC is mandated to provide small business support services throughout the Algoma region and Chapleau.

April 18, 2014

  • On Monday, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt was in the Sault to announce that the government was restoring its investment in the ACR passenger service for another year. The transportation link was scheduled to stop operating at the end of the month. The announcement followed the release of an economic impact assessment from BDO, which found that the ACR passenger line generates between $38 and $48 million in annual economic activity, which supports up to 220 jobs and helps deliver more than $5 million in tax revenue to government coffers every year. With the one-year funding extension, the ACR Passenger Service Working Group, which includes reps from the SSMEDC, City and other stakeholders, is now working on longer-term solutions to keep the Sault-to-Hearst rail service viable well into the future. For more information on this transportation initiative, visit www.algomapassengerrail.com.
  • Also on Monday, the Sault Ste. Marie location of Smoke's Poutinerie, a national restaurant chain, opened its doors to patrons. The business offers a broad menu exclusive to the Canadian classic dish - the poutine. Before starting his company, owner Paul Fowler first met with the SSMEDC team to work on business planning and other start-up matters. Smoke's Poutinerie is located on Queen Street beside Top Hat Billiards.
  • Five years ago, Paul Caputo participated in Summer Company. Administered in the region by the SSMEDC, the provincially-funded program provides guidance and funding for students to operate a seasonal business. The goal is to help teach youth the building blocks of entrepreneurship. Caputo is a shining example of the success of Summer Company. Five years after taking part in the program, his company, Green Grass Yard Care, is still operating and has grown considerably. If anyone knows of a high school or university student who might be interested in this year's Summer Company program - they must be returning to school - have them contact Kendall Scott at 705-759-2616 or k.scott@ssmedc.ca. Note: Summer Company is different from the new program announced by the Province last week, Starter Company, which focuses on aspiring entrepreneurs who are not in school.
  • Last year, the SSMEDC established a pilot Twitter account. With positive feedback, the communications method has developed into a key tool for the Corporation. We're just over 100 days into 2014, and the SSMEDC has generated 110 tweets. Equally significant, the account has grown to more than 440 followers, and there has been a fair amount of two-way communication happening on the site, something that shows a further engagement from the public.

April 11, 2014

  • On Monday, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, will be in Sault Ste. Marie to make an announcement regarding Algoma Central Railway passenger service. The announcement is taking place at 11:30 a.m. in front of Council Chambers. Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced it was cutting its annual $2.2-million investment into the ACR passenger line, essentially ending the service. A number of stakeholders, including the SSMEDC, have been working on solutions to keep the link operating. BDO Canada was engaged to prepare a socio-economic impact assessment of the rail run to help make the business case to Transport Canada that supporting the ACR passenger line is a worthwhile investment. Tune in Monday to learn more.
  • Earlier today, the Province of Ontario announced a new business support program. Starter Company provides up to $5,000 for entrepreneurs to start their own business. The program is open to people ages 18 to 29 who are not full-time students. Starter Company will be administered in the region by the SSMEDC's Enterprise Services (small business) team.
  • This weekend, the Sault is hosting the 2014 Atom AAA Provincial Hockey Championships. The tournament is attracting several hundred visitors who are injecting money into the local economy. The SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division worked with Sault Major Hockey and the Northern Ontario Hockey Association in securing this prestigious event.
  • Professions North, an initiative from Laurentian University in Sudbury, is working on a marketing initiative to attract highly-skilled people from around the world to come live and work in Northern Ontario. The SSMEDC is working with Professions North on the Sault Ste. Marie component of this initiative.

April 4, 2014

  • Hundreds of visiting athletes are now competing in Sault Ste. Marie. The community is home to the 2014 U-12 (under 12) Provincial Ringette Championships from April 3 to 6. The event, which has attracted more than 600 participants, along with hundreds of parents and fans, is being hosted by the Sault Ringette Club and the Sault Ice Hawks travel teams. With an economic impact of well over $500,000, the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division worked with the local Organizing Committee in securing this major sports event.
  • Following a capital purchase of new equipment, Soo Foundry & Machine Ltd. is now able to increase efficiencies, expand sales, and create and retain employment in Sault Ste. Marie. The acquisition, which was announced March 31, was supported by a $427,250 investment from the Province's Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. Soo Foundry & Machine is a longtime client of the SSMEDC. Over the past several years, we have worked with them on a number of funding applications and growth projects.
  • This week, Steve Hollingshead, from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, took part in the Sport Event Alliance from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. The annual conference brings together community economic development agencies with event-related organizations like the Canadian Curling Association, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Adult Recreation Hockey Association (CARHA). The conference provides an opportunity to promote the Sault as a great place to host future events. Attending previous Sport Event Alliances helped Tourism Sault Ste. Marie secured a number of past tournaments, including the widely-successful 2012 CARHA Hockey World Cup and 2013 Telus Cup. With a number of solid leads generated at this year's conference, expect more large-scale events to be held here in the years to come.
  • Today and yesterday, Algoma University held its eighth annual Business Case Competition. The event has fourth-year Business students take part in a high-stress team exercise, where they have a short period of time to work on and generate solutions for a business case. The competition is evaluated by a panel of experts. As he has in past competitions, Algoma U alum Andrew Ross, the SSMEDC's General Manager of Enterprise Services, is a judge at this year's event.