Weekly Activity Reports - December 2014

December 30, 2014

  • With its core operating budget coming from the City of Sault Ste. Marie, the SSMEDC levers those funds to garner additional resources from other sources to carry out projects and deliver services in the community. As one example, the Corporation recently received funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to provide 40-week work experiences for two individuals to enhance their skills. Set to begin next month, the positions will provide administrative services to help operate the SSMEDC's Small Business Incubator. The downtown facility, when unveiled in early-2015, will provide space for entrepreneurs to operate their budding companies. With respect to levering, between 2010 and 2013, the SSMEDC received a total of $6.2 million from the Municipality, and the Corporation used those funds to secure $11.8 million from senior levels of government and the private sector. In other words, for every dollar the SSMEDC received from Sault ratepayers, the Corporation secured nearly two dollars from other sources.
  • Originally spearheaded by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, product development surrounding the Group of Seven is gaining momentum. The artists achieved global fame by capturing the rugged Canadian landscape, particularly in the Sault area. Visitors can now experience this history firsthand by taking in some Group of Seven sites on the Agawa Canyon Train Tour. Thanks to an investment from FedNor, announced last week, interpretive signage will help highlight many of the locations to provide a more wholesome experience for tourists. The funding application was developed by the Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association, in partnership with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and the towns of Wawa and Nipigon.
  • Earlier today, the SSMEDC released its final newsletter of 2014. The Pulse, a bi-monthly digital publication, features stories related to the Corporation's activity, its programs and services, and general economic development matters pertaining to Sault Ste. Marie. Sent to several thousand recipients - both locally and around the world - the newsletter is one of many communications methods used by the SSMEDC. Ultimately, the goal of Corporate communications is to support the SSMEDC's goal of creating and retaining jobs, generating wealth and increasing the Municipal tax base.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie conducts a number of marketing activities to help attract and retain visitors in the community. One recent initiative, unveiled recently, has the SSMEDC division facilitating an information kiosk at the local airport. The booth contains the Sault Ste. Marie Visitors Guide, Visitor Map, and a flat-screen television playing the Sault's marketing video on a continuous loop. The goal of the initiative is to welcome visitors to the community and inform them on the attraction, festival and events, accommodations, and entertainment available in Sault Ste. Marie, thereby increasing the likelihood that they stay for longer periods of time and keep coming back.

December 19, 2014

  • At Monday's City Council meeting, three Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) applications from the SSMEDC were approved. One, for $100,000, will go towards the community's efforts to retain and grow its lottery and gaming sector. Another, for $60,000, will provide the SSMEDC with additional resources to allow the organization to help coordinate, manage and implement Canal District development projects. Another, for $50,000, will help the community develop a Sustainable Growth and Development Stewardship Strategy. The EDF is an annual fund established by Council - and at the discretion of Council - to support initiatives that create and retain jobs, increase the tax base, and spur economic development projects.
  • In November, a labour force survey from Statistics Canada revealed that the local employment level reached 41,400, slightly higher than it was in 2008 (40,100) before the onset of the global recession. Also impressive, the Sault's unemployment rate measured in at 4.8%. A more comprehensive analysis shows considerable promise as well. In November, the year-to-date average for the local employment level was 39,888. Considering the level was 34,300 in 2012 and 37,100 in 2013, the trend is positive.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, is in the process of finalizing its 2015 Visitors Guide. The annual publication is one of the community's main tourism marketing tools. The document, available in both hard copy and digital form, contains extensive information on area accommodations, attractions festivals and events, and other points of interest. The Visitors Guide is sent to - and available in - strategic markets around Canada and the United States.
  • This week, the SSMEDC on behalf of the Ontario's North Economic Development Corporation (ONEDC), met with and presented to a dozen senior economic development officers from the Provincial Government's international marketing centres in Europe, Asia and North and South America. The goal of the meetings was to promote Sault Ste. Marie and Northern Ontario's competitive advantages and business opportunities around the world. The forum was facilitated by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. ONEDC is represented by the five northern economic development agencies of the major centres in the region, including Sault Ste. Marie.

December 12, 2014

  • A movie that was filmed in Sault Ste. Marie last February recently debuted at a major Toronto theatre. Fall, starring Michael Murphy (M*A*S*H), was shown at the TIFF Bell Lightbox cinema on December 5. With a budget of over $1.6 million, the feature film was shot primarily in the Sault over a two month period. The production was supported with a $500,000 investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. When a movie or television production comes to Sault Ste. Marie, the SSMEDC team provides assistance to the visiting crew. A number of films were shot here in 2014, and the SSMEDC was pleased to support them.
  • The ACR Passenger Service Working Group, in coordination with CN Rail, is currently in follow-up discussions with one of the three companies that bid to assume the operations of the ACR passenger service. The company's bid, which included detailed plans of how to increase ridership and operate the service more efficiently, was deemed by CN to best fit its requirements. The Working Group, which includes members of the SSMEDC team, agreed with CN to proceed with further discussions with this firm, in order to conclude an operating agreement as soon as possible, likely early in the new year.
  • This week, two community organizations, the Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation and Local Immigration Partnership, held their monthly or quarterly Board of Directors meetings. Members of the SSMEDC sit on these, along with many other, Boards and Committees throughout the Sault Ste. Marie area and beyond. Providing guidance and support for its partner organizations by sitting on their Boards and Committees is one of many ways the SSMEDC serves the community.
  • The SSMEDC held its annual open house this week. The event, held at the Corporation's office on the first level of the Civic Centre, is designed to provide thanks and recognition to clients and partners that help the SSMEDC team carry out its programs and services. Around 100 guest attended this year's open house.

December 5, 2014

  • There are now many more options for area residents to fly south this winter, and it's also easier for tourists and others to travel to the Sault. Porter Airlines recently partnered with JetBlue Airways to offer 23 additional U.S. destinations to pick from, including Orlando, Las Vegas, Tampa, Los Angeles, Ft. Lauderdale and Puerto Rico. The Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation, which operates the local airport, along with the SSMEDC and City of Sault Ste. Marie, worked together to land Porter here in 2011. The airline, which is based out of the Toronto Island Airport, now offers four flights per day from Sault Ste. Marie to downtown Toronto.
  • Working with the Sault Trailblazers Snowmobile Club, along with City staff and Council members, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie recently re-established the local Snowmobile Task Force. The group will explore opportunities to connect area snowmobile trains to the community and help grow the snowmobile tourist market, which is making a comeback across Northern Ontario. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, works to attract visitors to the community by securing and supporting major events, marketing area tourist assets in strategic markets around the world, and helping to develop infrastructure projects like snowmobile trails that draw travellers to the region.
  • Last night, the SSMEDC presented its annual Bridges to Better Business forum. The networking and learning event attracted dozens of business owners, entrepreneurs and professions. During the forum, a panel discussion centred around advice and challenges for small business owners. The panel included three former or current clients of the SSMEDC, all of whom continue to operate successful companies in Sault Ste. Marie: Jeff Greco (Cavera Inc.), Paul Caputo (Green Grass Yard Care), and Curt O'Neil (Curt O'Neil Photography).
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie recently began a Twitter page, @SaultTourism. The division of the SSMEDC already operates the widely-popular Facebook pages "Sault Ste. Marie," which has more than 13,000 fans, and "Northern Ontario," which has nearly 37,000 fans. Social media has become one of the main communications methods of the SSMEDC. The Corporation has operated a business-focused Twitter page, @SaultEDC, for nearly two years, and the site has attracted well over 700 followers to date.