Weekly Activity Reports - August 2014

August 29, 2014

  • This fall, the community is hosting the 28th Annual Northern Ontario Business Awards. Taking Place September 24 and 25, the event is being facilitated by the City of Sault Ste. Marie and Northern Ontario Business, with assistance from the SSMEDC. To help spread the word of the upcoming forum, the three organizations hosted a joint press conference yesterday, with Councillor Susan Myers and NOB publisher Patricia Mills addressing the crowd. The Northern Ontario Business Awards is widely regarded as the region's largest gathering of movers and shakers. The event provides an opportunity for 500+ attendees to network, make business connections and share in the camaraderie of events related to the prestigious Awards Gala evening. For more information, or to register, visit www.noba.ca.
  • Every year, travel journalists from around the world visit the Sault to write stories on area scenery and attractions. Essentially, the writers provide significant marketing exposure for the community. To ensure travel writers keep coming here, Ian McMillan, Executive Director of the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division, recently attended the GoMedia Canada Marketplace. Sponsored by the Canadian Tourism Commission, the annual event attracts travel media personnel from around the world who are looking to write stories on various destinations in the country. At this year's marketplace, McMillan had 30 appointments with a variety of media members, many of whom made commitments to visit the Sault this coming year.
  • Summer Company is winding down. Eighteen young entrepreneurs in the region took part in this year's program, which provides grants and mentoring for students to operate a seasonal business. Many of them saw considerable success. Matt Farrell is a prime example. He opened REKAM 3D Printing in Goulais River. The firm makes and sells custom phone cases, along with other custom jobs for local businesses and individuals. The phone cases, as well as other small items, are created through a custom printing process using a 3D printer. The company is able to work with clients to create unique designs. To contact Matt, call 705-943-1197.
  • Tom Dodds, CEO of the SSMEDC, is a Board member for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO), a non-profit organization involving economic development agencies from across the province. EDCO is holding a Board meeting in Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday, September 11. To go along with the meeting, the SSMEDC is planning a networking event that evening. The forum will provide an opportunity for business leaders and dignitaries from the Twin Saults to meet and discuss partnerships with their counterparts from across Ontario. Further details will be released in the near future.

August 22, 2014

  • Udi Gat, the Mayor of Eilot, Israel, is visiting Sault Ste. Marie this week to meet with local entrepreneurs to talk about renewable energy partnership opportunities between his country and Canada. The SSMEDC is helping to facilitate the visit. As part of his stay, Mayor Gat will be speaking at the Holiday Inn Express on Thursday, August 21 at noon. He will be presenting on green energy initiatives in Israel, and a discussion period will follow. Area business owners and members of the public are welcomed to attend.
  • The SSMEDC is now looking for a downtown location for its forthcoming Small Business Incubator. Last Friday, a request for proposal (RFP) was issued for a public/private partnership for location hosting, leasehold improvements and co-management of the three-year pilot project. Property owners and other parties able to provide the 5,000 square-foot minimum of space required have until September 12 to submit their proposals. The RFP is available for viewing online here. Once operational, the Small Business Incubator will house new companies and help them become sustainable.
  • Every year, the community hosts a number of major conferences and meetings that attract hundreds of visitors from around the country and world. The SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division is behind the bidding process of many of these events. Where does the division get its leads from? One place is IncentiveWorks, Canada's largest forum for professionals who plan, organize or influence meetings and events. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie's Jennifer King-Callon is currently in Toronto taking part in 2014 IncentiveWorks. While at the two-day forum, she's meeting with event planners and pitching the Sault as a prime location to host future meetings and conventions.
  • Every week, the SSMEDC team makes on-site visits to area companies as part of the Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) program. Under the initiative, the Corporation assists firms with expansion, including helping them secure financing from various sources. As an example, nine SSMEDC clients currently have funding applications submitted to government programs, including the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, FedNor and Ontario Trillium Foundation. Four other funding applications are under development on behalf of other companies. Such activity is typical for the SSMEDC. In 2013, under the BR&E program, 14 firms grew their operations, which helped create or retain 257 jobs and generated $12.1 million in community investments.

August 15, 2014

  • At Monday's City Council meeting, CEO Tom Dodds presented the SSMEDC's 2013 Annual Report. The publication, which was finalized and released several months back, highlights the Corporation's activity and is meant to provide additional accountability to the ratepayers of Sault Ste. Marie for their investments in the SSMEDC. In 2013, staff conducted more than 400 consultations with small-to-medium-sized businesses, which led to 32 start-ups and expansions, created or retained 279 jobs, and led to a total investment of $13.1 million. As well, work from the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division in bidding on events and selling vacation packages led to just under 19,000 visitor days, which injected more than $2.7 million into the local economy.
  • In the 1920s and 30s, the Group of Seven captured the rugged Canadian landscape in their paintings. Much of their work was done in Northern Ontario, particularly in the forests around the Sault. With the international fame surrounding the iconic artists, the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division is developing a number of products that will capitalize on the renowned brand. The division's staff are now working with CN Rail and White Pine Pictures to convert the Algoma Central Railway camp car into a replica of the box car that was originally used by the artists. White Pine Pictures is producing a documentary on the Group of Seven. Once the film is complete, the renovated box car will be available to visitors looking for a Group of Seven rail experience. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is also working to develop driving/camping tours and other attractions based on the iconic artists that will help draw visitors from around the world.
  • On Monday, it was announced that the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation received a little over $1 million from Transport Canada. The funds will be used to replace the runway sweeper, snowblower and airfield equipment. Along with modification to the combined service building to accommodate fire trucks, these capital improvements will maintain the safe operation of the airport. Though not involved in this funding announcement, the SSMEDC has been working with the local airport for a number of years on various growth initiatives. The two organizations, along with the City of Sault Ste. Marie, were successful in attracting Porter Airlines, and they are now working to draw additional air carriers to the Sault. Other growth initiatives, including the construction of a hangar that now houses JD Aero's plane maintenance facility, have been successful, and additional business opportunities are now being explored.
  • This week, elementary students from across the region are taking part in the 2014 Youth Enterprise Camp. The annual event is a summer camp centred around entrepreneurship training. This Friday, the final day of the camp, participants will be at the Station Mall public booth area near the Food Court, where they will be selling their product or service during the day. And Friday afternoon, an awards ceremony will take place at Algoma University from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The SSMEDC, which provides youth business support throughout the region, is an annual sponsor of the event and provides mentoring for the students. With the SSMEDC's other programs, the Corporation provides a continuum of entrepreneurship training for people of nearly every age.

August 8, 2014

  • An SSMEDC industrial client is moving forward with a large-scale green energy initiative. Calgary-based BluEarth Renewables, in partnership with the Batchewana First Nation, is now constructing the Bow Lake Wind Farm near Sault Ste. Marie. The 36-turbine project will employ more than 80 people during the peak of construction. Once complete, the site will employ a number of permanent workers in operation, administration and maintenance roles. The SSMEDC has been working with BluEarth Renewables and Batchewana First Nation for several years on advancing this initiative.
  • This past Saturday, a cruise ship, Pearl Mist (formerly named Columbus), docked on the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront. With a capacity of more than 200 passengers, the vessel is slated to stop here six times this summer and bring a total of 1,200 tourists here for a one-day excursion involving local tourist attractions. Another luxury vessel, Hamburg, is scheduled to dock here in the fall. With the economic benefit that comes from passenger spending in the local economy, the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division aims to attract cruise ships. Its Executive Director, Ian McMillan, is the former Chair of Cruise Ontario and a current member of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition. The goal of both organizations is to work with cruise liners and tourist operators to attract cruise ships to the region.
  • A local business is slated to hire 100 people. Agero, which handles in-bound customer calls for vehicle roadside assistance and information services, currently employs several hundred people at its Sault Ste. Marie location on Pim Street. Background: in the late-1990s, following a downturn in the local steel sector and with a high unemployment rate in Sault Ste. Marie, the SSMEDC, working with the City and Provincial governments, helped attract contact and business-process outsourcing centres to the community. Today, the sector employs around 800 people in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Last week, the SSMEDC worked with Shaw TV to produce a television news segment on Summer Company. Administered in the region by the SSMEDC, 18 high school and postsecondary students in the area took part in the 2014 youth entrepreneurship program. The Shaw TV story, which profiled a participant, will help promote the program for future years. Shaw TV news segments are one of many communications methods used by the SSMEDC to help promote its programs and services, and to help inform citizens of the Corporation's activities. The Summer Company segment is airing this week on Shaw TV channel 10 and is also available for viewing online here.