Weekly Activity Reports - December 2016

December 23, 2016

  • Last week, it was announced that the second annual Queen Street Cruise will be returning to downtown Sault Ste. Marie on June 16 and 17. With new activities planned, along with additional partnerships and sponsors, the organizing committee expects the 2017 event to be bigger and better than last year's. More information on this summer's Queen Street Cruise will be released in the coming months. Visit www.queenstreetcruise.com for updates. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is working with event organizers on planning and marketing. With funding from its private sector partners, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie hired an Events Coordinator earlier this year. The position is responsible for attracting visitors by growing the size and draw of local festivals and events. The Queen Street Cruise is one of many events Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is now working with.
  • The SSMEDC is continuing the execution of its Invest Sault Ste. Marie strategy by developing a new-and-improved website to showcase the community as a great place to do business. Development of the site is being made possible with funding from the Government of Canada. As an independent, non-profit agency, the SSMEDC is able to access considerable investments from senior levels of government to undertake projects and deliver programs in the community. For example, between 2010 and 2015, the Corporation received a total of $9.65 million from the Municipality - an average of $1.61 million per year - and levered this core funding to secure over $16.5 million in additional investments from the Federal and Provincial Governments, private sector, and other sources.
  • Last summer, Sault Ste. Marie hosted the inaugural CAN/AM President's Cup VIP Poker Run. The weekend competition attracted dozens of boaters and boating enthusiasts to the community. A marketing video of the event was recently released. View the segment at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HlSCoAidDo&feature=youtu.be. Filmed and produced by Northern Ontario-based Riley Lake Productions, the promotional video was made possible with funding from the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie worked with Poker Runs America to bring the 2016 CAN/AM President's Cup VIP Poker Run to the St. Mary's River. It's expected that it will be an annual event for the Sault. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie also secured funding from senior levels of government to host and market the waterfront competition.
  • Last week, the SSMEDC held its open house. The annual forum brings together the Corporation's clients, partners, staff, and members of the Board of Directors and other volunteer committees. This year's open house was held at the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship in the Machine Shop. Opened earlier this year, the site is home to the SSMEDC's enterprise services team, along with a small business incubator that houses nine companies. Studies show that after five years, the success rate for companies that use incubation services is over 80%, compared to around 33% for non-incubated firms, which is why the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship is a key priority project for the SSMEDC. Funded by all levels of government, the project is part of the community's downtown Canal District revitalization initiative. Online: www.themillworks.ca.

December 16, 2016

  • The firm that provides customer and program support for Microsoft's Dynamics 365 cloud service is expected to establish an operation here next year. Createch Group, a subsidiary of Bell Canada, is seeking to hire 30 people by April. Within five years, it could employ as many as 250. On Monday, City Council voted to support the project with a $200,000 investment over two years from its Economic Development Fund. Municipal support is subject to Createch securing additional funds from senior levels of government. This initiative has an interesting history. Mario Chabot, Createch's General Manager of Microsoft Business Solutions, worked for another major IT firm on a project that eventually led to the creation of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. His experience here led him to conclude that the Sault was the best place to set up Createch's new, $2.9-million operation. Online: www.groupecreatech.com/en/.
  • In economic development, forging partnerships and leveraging investments generate results. For example, the SSMEDC recently partnered with the Economic Development Corporations in Sudbury and North Bay. Together, they secured an investment from the Federal Government to help grow the region's national defense and aerospace sectors. With the funds, the three organizations are generating a formal business case to demonstrate the value proposition for Northern Ontario to primary contractors that will be bidding on Canadian defense activity. This will ultimately help companies in the region get their "Controlled Goods" status, which is required to provide services to major defense contractors. A request for proposal for this project was recently issued. This initiative is funded by the Invest Canada - Community Initiative program, which provides support for foreign direct investment initiatives and activities.
  • The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport undertook a strategic planning process this year to chart the course of a more robust tourism sector in the province. The findings and recommendations were recently released in a report. Among the focuses was that more emphasis be placed on product and experience development, along with sports and culture. Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, presented the findings and their implication on the community during the SSMEDC's Board of Directors meeting this month. The provincial strategy should have a positive impact on the Sault's Group of Seven product development and event attraction efforts. McMillan is a Board member for the Travel Industry Association of Ontario, which worked with the Provincial Government in undertaking the recent strategic planning process.
  • Though the recent dump of snow may not have been welcomed by many residents, it's great news for the area's No. 1 winter tourist attraction and quality-of-life generator. Over the past couple of days, more than 45cm of snow blanked Searchmont Resort. As well, the hill's snowmaking guns are blazing. As a result, the resort is in great shape to open on Saturday, December 24. It's set to re-open on Boxing Day and be open for the entire student holiday ending January 8, which is typically the busiest season. For details, visit www.searchmont.com. In December 2014, the SSMEDC purchased the resort, an acquisition that was required to ensure the hill remained open. Over the past two years, the Corporation has been accessing investments from senior levels of government to conduct capital upgrades. The SSMEDC is now looking to sell the asset.

December 9, 2016

  • When it comes to accessing Provincial funding for business startup and expansion, the Sault ranks among the best in Northern Ontario. Between 2013 and June 2016, local firms and agencies created or retained 1,921 jobs using investments from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. Of the five major cities in the region, these figures are the highest. The Sault accessed $48.8 million from the fund, which ranks No. 1 in Northern Ontario on a per-capita basis. These results were presented Monday at the SSMEDC Board meeting. Since 2013, the Corporation has helped more than 125 companies in their startup and expansion. During this period, a number of SSMEDC clients were successful in accessing investments from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, including SIS Manufacturing, Envirotek, Guy's Collision Centre, Airport Development Corporation, Triple M Metal, Soo Foundry & Machine, Algoma University, and Boniferro Mill Works.
  • Sault Ste. Marie is currently hosting the 2016 National, a Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling event. Taking place at the Essar Centre from December 6 to 11, the bonspiel has attracted several hundred visiting players, coaches, officials and fans. The event was secured by the City of Sault Ste. Marie - in particular, the Essar Centre division of its Community Development and Enterprise Services Department. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, which works to attract major events to the community, provided support during the bid process for the 2016 National. The organization also marketed the bonspiel and offered ticket and accommodation packages through its website and online reservation system. Sault Ste. Marie was also awarded the hosting rights for the 2017 National Grand Slam of Curling, which is taking place next year from November 14 to 19.
  • The Sault was ranked Canada's 33rd coziest city by Expedia. The travel website analyzed hotel guest reviews and identified communities with the highest comfort ratings. In the report, the Agawa Canyon Tour Train was used to summarize the warmth and beauty of the area. "Slip into a cozy seat by the window and enjoy a train trip around the forest trees and valleys in Sault Ste. Marie. With views like these, it's easy to understand why people consider this place as welcoming as home." The Expedia findings were great - though not surprising - news for Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. "People who live and visit here know how warm and beautiful our community is, but it's always refreshing when these assets are recognized nationally by an industry-leading agency," he said. View the Expedia article at https://travelblog.expedia.ca/55-coziest-cities-canada/.
  • An SSMEDC-produced video is currently airing on Shaw TV. Last month, a panel discussion was hosted by Startup Sault and YouLaunch, in partnership with various local organizations, including the SSMEDC, Chamber of Commerce and Community Development Corporation. Representatives from these groups, along with Mayor Christian Provenzano, participated in the forum. Held at The Tech, a number of topics were discussed, such as community morale, economic diversification and business support. The SSMEDC filmed the panel discussion and edited a short highlight video, which has been running regularly on Channel 10 all week. In 2012, the SSMEDC formed a partnership with Shaw TV to produce news clips on the Corporation's clients, programs and activities. Since then, a couple dozen SSMEDC-focused videos have been shot and aired on the community cable channel.

December 2, 2016

  • A local marketing and web development firm has a new home. Jeronamo Solutions recently moved into the SSMEDC's Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship. Located at the Machine Shop, the facility houses the organization's enterprise services team and programs, along with a small business incubator that now hosts nine companies. For Jeronamo Solutions owner Monique Morrison, the move was a natural and needed transition. She used to run the company out of her home, but with continued growth, a new and larger setting was required. "I love the space and on-site business support staff at the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship," said Morrison. "It's also nice to be around other entrepreneurs. We're a community of like-minded individuals, and we often bounce ideas off each other. It's a perfect setting to run a business."
  • This week, several Chambers of Commerce in Northern Ontario travelled to Queens Park in Toronto to advocate on opportunities and issues impacting regional businesses. A local delegation consisting of representatives from the SSMEDC, Sault Chamber of Commerce, Port of Algoma and Lottery & Gaming Pursuit Team, participated in the forum. The group met with a number Ministers, opposition leaders and officials from various ministries, including Advanced Education and Skills Development, Finance, Energy, Economic Development and Growth, Community Safety and Correctional Services, Municipal Affairs, Infrastructure, and International Trade. This initiative was spearheaded by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. The local contingent was able to present many opportunities for consideration to the Provincial Government.
  • The stretch of Trans-Canada Highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa will soon be a lot more comfortable and safer to travel on. A year-round rest stop is planned for Batchewana Bay, it was announced recently. This initiative stemmed from the efforts of the Sault's Member of Provincial Parliament, the Honourable David Orazietti, and the Superior Coastal Highlands Tourism Association, a non-profit organization that includes area business merchants and tourist operators. The four-season comfort station at Batchewana Bay will be a welcomed amenity, particularly for tourists and travellers. In fact, given the benefits to regional visitors, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie was also an early supporter of this initiative and assisted area advocacy efforts.
  • With the cold season here, the SSMEDC team initiated a winter clothes drive in November. The campaign ended on Wednesday, with a total of six boxes of coats and other winter gear collected. The clothing will be donated to local shelters, including Women In Crisis, St. Vincent Place and the Soup Kitchen Community Centre. The following items were donated . . . Children's clothing: nine coats, one pair of snow pants and one pair of mitts with matching hat. Women's clothing: 18 jackets, one sweater, one pair of boots, five scarves and one tuque. Men's clothing: 14 jackets, four sweaters, one robe, three pairs of track pants, one scarf and two tuques.