Weekly Activity Reports - April 2016

April 29, 2016

  • The SSMEDC and Airport Development Corporation are working on a joint initiative that's expected to generate 25 high-end jobs. It was announced this week that the airport is receiving $1.8 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. The SSMEDC helped draft the funding application and develop the business plan for the project. This Provincial investment will be used towards a $5.8-million expansion of the hangar facilities occupied by JD Aero, an aircraft maintenance and overhaul provider. With more space, the firm is able to grow and meet the needs of its newest clients, WestJet and Horizon. By expanding its hangar facilities and services, JD Aero is increasing its full-time permanent workforce from 50 to 75 staff. This airport expansion project is part of a fruitful, multi-year partnership between the SSMEDC and Airport Development Corporation.
  • With a focus on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie hosted a number of group tours in 2015. For instance, the organization worked with several South Korean travel companies to attract more than 500 visitors from the country through a series of motor coach tours last year. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie typically generates these types of opportunities by attending industry trade shows. This week, for example, Executive Director Ian McMillan took part in the Rendezvous Marketplace. While there, he promoted the Sault and Northern Ontario to group tour operators from across Canada, China, Japan and other countries. A number of leads were generated, which will translate to more group tours coming here. While there, Ian also met with - and promoted Sault Ste. Marie to - the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Canada's Minister of Small Business and Tourism.
  • Sault Ste. Marie received news recently that it will be welcoming 50 refugees to the community. Though it hasn't been announced when they will arrive, or where they're coming from, the Sault Community Career Centre is getting ready to launch the Government Assisted Program, which is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The Career Centre, in partnership with other community groups like the Local Immigration Partnership, will be assisting the newcomers with settlement services once they arrive. Members of the SSMEDC team are represented on the Board of Directors for both the Sault Community Career Centre and Local Immigration Partnership. The SSMEDC works with and supports a number of community organizations, with the goal of helping to make the Sault a better place to live, learn, work and play.
  • On Thursday, the SSMEDC released the April edition of its newsletter, The Pulse. The bimonthly publication contains economic development stories on Sault Ste. Marie. Ultimately, the goal is to keep funding partners and citizens informed of SSMEDC activity. The newsletter, which has been published for more than eight years, also promotes the SSMEDC's programs and services that are available to business owners and others. The Pulse archive is available at: www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/newsletter.asp. The SSMEDC uses a number of corporate communications methods. For example, for more than two years, the Corporation has also been publishing a Weekly Activity Report, which contains details on some of the day-to-day endeavours of its staff. This archive is available at: www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/Weekly_Activity.asp.

April 22, 2016

  • To help local firms sell their products and services to external markets, the SSMEDC is creating enhanced business profiles. The organization is now seeking data from companies to identify specific expertise, knowledge, capacities, competencies and sector strengths. Once compiled, the SSMEDC team will use the info to promote Sault businesses, attract investment and identify growth opportunities. Companies can take advantage of the initiative by completing an online survey at http://survey.ssmedc.ca. The business profiles project is part of Invest Sault Ste. Marie, a three-year program aimed at enhancing the community's economic development capacity and performance in key sectors. Funded by senior levels of government, Invest Sault Ste. Marie represents an incremental increase in the SSMEDC's economic development activities.
  • Last week, Sault Ste. Marie was home to the 2016 Aboriginal Tourism Ontario Business Tourism Conference. The second annual event attracted more than 200 participants from across the province, including First Nations economic development officers, tourism officials and other visiting delegates. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie supported the conference with logistical and other administrative assistance. The organization, which works with partner groups to attract events and visitors to the community, also operated an information booth at the conference, with the goal of promoting area attractions and amenities to the delegates. The second annual Aboriginal Tourism Ontario Business Tourism Conference was held at Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre from April 12 to 15.
  • Last weekend, the Port of Algoma signed a Reconciliation and Prosperity Accord with Garden River First Nation. Planned in the spirit of healing and reconciliation, the historic agreement speaks of the common vision between the two. In particular, it highlights the importance of protecting the region's water, land and air for future generations. The Port of Algoma and Garden River First Nation have been working together over many months to build a relationship and an understanding. The accord was signed by Garden River First Nation Chief Paul Syrette and Port of Algoma CEO Anshumali Dwivedi. It was witnessed by MP Terry Sheehan and Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. Also taking part in the ceremony were representatives from project partners, including the SSMEDC, City of Sault Ste. Marie, Anishinabek Nation and North Shore Tribal Council.
  • The SSMEDC is inviting expressions of interest from individuals to serve on its Board of Directors. To be considered, candidates must submit a letter outlining relevant experience, the reasons for their interest and curriculum vitae by noon on Monday, May 2 to the Corporation's Civic Centre office or email to d.lafleur@ssmedc.ca. The SSMEDC Board of Directors is a dedicated group of volunteers who commit thousands of hours annually to the planning and direction of the Corporation. Board and Committee members are business owners, executives and professionals with a commitment to the growth and development of Sault Ste. Marie. Meanwhile, matters pertaining to the SSMEDC Board of Directors, including governance, bylaws and meeting administration, are handled by the organization's Corporate Services division.

April 15, 2016

  • The SSMEDC and Airport Development Corporation are working on a joint initiative that will see further expansion at the airport, with the goal of generating 25 high-end jobs. At Monday's City Council meeting, the Airport Development Corporation received $250,000 from the Municipality's Economic Development Fund. Expected to be leveraged with funding from senior levels of government, the investment will be used towards a $5.8-million airport expansion initiative for the hangar facilities occupied by JD Aero, an airplane repair, maintenance and overhaul. The company, which currently employs 50 full time and up to 100 with seasonal positions at its Sault location, is now at capacity. More space will enable the firm to increase its client list and staff contingent.
  • Representatives from the Ontario Nurses Association were in Sault Ste. Marie last week. The Toronto-based organization is holding its 2016 annual meeting here this summer. Officials visited the host community to conduct site visits and meet with staff from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. The event is expected to attract more than 250 nurses and nursing staff from across the province, which will inject a significant amount of visitor spending into the local economy. The conference was secured by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, whose main goal is to attract visitors to the community. The 2016 Ontario Nurses Association annual conference is taking place in June at the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel and Conference Centre.
  • Sault Ste. Marie hosted an information session for business owners, managers and executives on Tuesday. Titled Industry Briefing on Productivity & Cluster Initiative, the event was hosted by Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium, non-profit organization dedicated to helping manufacturers grow and become more competitive at home and around the world. The SSMEDC helped facilitate the session, which was designed to help local companies build greater success through a productivity cluster network initiative and business management practices. The SSMEDC is a longtime partner of Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium. Over the past few years, the two organizations have partnered together to offer local entrepreneurs a number of training sessions.
  • This week, the new Municipal flag was officially risen at the Civic Centre. The occasion coincided with the 104th anniversary of the City of Sault Ste. Marie. Approved by City Council earlier this year, the new flag design includes an updated version of the community's familiar "Naturally Gifted" logo. The development of the flag was the result of work from the Municipal Flag Committee, which included Councillors Matthew Shoemaker, Susan Myers, and Judy Hupponen, along with City Corporate Affairs Officer Lori Ballstadt, Deputy City Clerk Rachel Tyczinski, and Kelly Buller from the City's Public Works and Transportation Department. Marketing specialist Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, also sat on the Committee.

April 8, 2016

  • The SSMEDC's Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship is now operational. Current and aspiring business owners are welcomed to submit applications to utilize the facility, which is located in the Machine Shop at the former St. Marys Paper property. The site represents an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs to access prime office space with a full suite of services, including on-site training and support from SSMEDC advisors. Historically, businesses that utilize incubation facilities have a long-term success rate of more than 80%, compared to about 30% for non-incubated companies. Given the value of the project, the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship was spearheaded and supported by the previous City Council. The initiative is also a key component of the community's downtown revitalization.
  • Planning for the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is in full swing. On Tuesday, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie staff met with the tournament Chairs and Hockey Canada reps to discuss logistics. These biweekly planning meetings will be taking place until the event starts on October 28. Featuring eight teams, the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is expected to attract hundreds of visitors to the community. The tournament was secured by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, in partnership with the City of Sault Ste. Marie. To accommodate visiting players, staff and dignitaries, the event requires 1,750 hotel room nights. The 2014 tourney in Nova Scotia generated $3.8 million in economic activity, with $2.6 million occurring in the host community. And with the final games broadcast on national television, there are promotional benefits for the host city as well.
  • The Board of Directors and senior staff members of the SSMEDC met with a pair of New Democratic Party MPPs on Monday. The main focus of the dialogue with Michael Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin) and Paul Miller (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek) dealt with the future of the steel industry in Ontario and what stakeholders can do to help ensure the sector remains viable. In particular, the session focused on a recent policy paper from the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, which outlined four recommendations for the Province of Ontario. Another topic of discussion was the Provincial Government's defined pension plan regulations and the impact on business competitiveness. The session was facilitated by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is pleased to welcome a new member to its team. Brianne Veale began in the position of Sport Tourism Intern this week. The role, which is responsible for supporting the organization in attracting major tournaments, is being made possible with funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and Soo Thunderbirds Hockey Club. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and the SSMEDC have a long and successful history of accessing resources from senior levels of government and partner agencies, with the goal of providing more services and positive results for the community. The SSMEDC receives operating investments from all levels of government, the private sector and other sources. Being able to access such a high level of external funding is largely the result of being an independent, non-profit organization.

April 1, 2016

  • A local company and SSMEDC client recently landed a major deal to export and sell its product in the U.S. Evolutiondeck invented and manufactures a lifetime maintenance-free deck structure from galvanized steel, which is now available stateside in 330 Menards retail stores. Evolutiondeck formed in 2007 and hit the market with its Paverdeck product in 2010. Sold with a 30-year warranty, the system is distributed from the firm's factory on Industrial Court and utilizes components and services from other Sault businesses. Founders John Naccarato and Joe Severini first accessed the business development services of SSMEDC staff, who assisted them in accessing funding sources. Evolutiondeck is also introducing a new galvanized steel structural wall based on the same technology and recently received UL certification for the U.S. and Canada. It should also be noted that Naccarato is currently a volunteer member of the SSMEDC's Business Advisory Committee and a previous Steel Sector Specialist.
  • The Sault waterfront will be bustling with activity this summer when the city hosts the 2016 President's Cup VIP Poker Run. Taking place August 5 to 7, the event will see offshore-style racing vessels from around the world compete in a game of chance. Staging at the Roberta Bondar Marina, boats will race to Richards Landing, Hilton Beach, Thessalon and Drummond Island. At each stop, crews grab a card and, when they return to the Sault, the best poker hand wins. Since it formed 30 years ago, Poker Runs America has been holding competitions across the continent. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie caught wind of the event and, for the past year, has been working with officials to have it come here. The local Poker Run is expected to attract hundreds of participants and fans while also generating marketing exposure for the Sault waterfront and area boating opportunities.
  • A newly-released business competitiveness analysis from KMPG ranked Sault Ste. Marie eighth out of 93 North American cities. Published this week, the assessment compared factors such as the cost of commercial land and buildings, transportation and logistics, labour, utilities, and overall operating expenses. A separate ranking out of 23 cities in central Canada and the northeast U.S. placed the Sault in third spot, behind Quebec City and Barrie. The SSMEDC participated in the analysis, titled Competitive Alternatives 2016. The Corporation now has access to the detailed cost data and assessment, which its staff will utilize as it continues to develop and implement its Invest Sault Ste. Marie strategy, a three-year investment attraction program to enhance economic growth and develop capacity in key sectors to attract new business to the community.
  • Between March 31 and April 2, Sault Ste. Marie is hosting the 2016 Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Provincial Hockey Tournament. The annual contest, now in its 42nd year, draws hundreds of ministry staff and their families from across Ontario. This year's tourney features 34 out-of-town teams and seven local teams. It's the first time the event has been held here in nearly a decade. With the tournament drawing so many visitors, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie was pleased to work with and assist organizers with their logistical, accommodations and other requirements. It's important to note that, supporting and attracting these types of events requires a significant amount of staff time over a long period. For instance, to help organize the 2016 MNRF Provincial Hockey Tournament, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie staff has been liaising with event officials for the past year.