Weekly Activity Reports - February 2015

February 27, 2015

  • The community is seriously considering making a bid for the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier. To help bolster its case to the Canadian Curling Association as to why Sault Ste. Marie should host the event, the bid committee is now asking area citizens and businesses to make a $50 deposit on tickets. The more deposits received, the stronger the bid will be. To make a deposit, or to learn more, visit www.ssmbrier2017.com, a website created internally by the SSMEDC. The Brier, Canada's National Men's Curling Championship, is the largest bonspiel in the country and generates millions of dollars in economic activity for the host city. The local bid committee consists of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie (a division of the SSMEDC), Soo Curlers Association, Tarentorus Sports Club and City of Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Porter Airlines recently added four destinations for area travellers to pick from. Residents in the Sault and surrounding region can now access New Orleans, Long Beach, Nantucket, and Portland. These locations are in addition to the 23 destinations the Toronto-based airline added last year, which include Orlando, Las Vegas, Tampa, Los Angeles, Fort Myers, Phoenix and Puerto Rico. The additional destinations for Sault area travellers are thanks to an interline agreement between Porter and JetBlue, which is based out of Boston Logan International Airport. Meanwhile, as longtime partners, the SSMEDC and local Airport Development Corporation, who worked together to land Porter here in 2011, are now engaging in some joint marketing and communications activities to help increase traffic at the Sault airport.
  • Wondering why sports commentator Ron MacLean is in town this weekend? He's here for the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour. The circuit, which is touring across the country, features MacLean hosting weekly live pre-game shows from Canadian cities, followed by a viewing party of the Sunday night NHL game. In the Sault, the party's taking place at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion, and the festivities will be broadcast live on Rogers Sportsnet. The opportunity to be a part of the 25-city tour was generated by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, in partnership with City staff, who met with officials from Rogers last year. The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour is attracting visitors to the Sault while also promoting the community across the country.
  • A number of community groups, including the SSMEDC, are hosting the 2015 Youth Engagement Forum March 10 at the Mill Square Machine Shop, located on the former St. Marys Paper site. The goal of the event is to facilitate discussion and generate solutions from youth on how to make Sault Ste. Marie a better place to live, learn, work and play. At the forum, participants will engage in dialogue on a number of topics, including leadership, entrepreneurship, entertainment and communication. Adult allies, from various groups throughout the community, will also be in attendance to learn how they can better provide services and activities for area youth. Individuals, ages 11 to 29, along with adult allies, can register at https://eventbrite.ca/event/15846435114/.

February 20, 2015

  • Next week, from February 25 to March 1, Sault Ste. Marie will be home to the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival, an annual event that showcases movies and other art forms. This year's festival will feature two films shot in the Sault, Fall and The Masked Saint. When movie productions such as these come to town, the SSMEDC provides assistance to the visiting crew and helps them navigate through the Municipal approval process. In 2014, the SSMEDC supported three local film shoots, and several more are slated for this year. Meanwhile, as the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival tends to attract visitors, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, helps market the event on its website and social media accounts, in its Visitor's Guide, and other mediums.
  • This week, the ACR Passenger Service Stakeholders Working Group submitted its preliminary response to Transport Canada related to questions the ministry had about the Algoma Central Railway passenger service. The Working Group, Chaired by City CAO Joe Fratesi, is vying to keep the transportation link operating. A third-party has been found to take over the service from CN, and a reduced, short-term government funding proposal was sent to Transport Canada, which is now doing its due diligence on the request. Formed in early-2014 after Transport Canada announced its intention to cut its annual investment in the ACR passenger service, the Working Group includes representatives from various stakeholders, including the SSMEDC, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, and businesses and home/property owners who depend on the rail line.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is ramping up its efforts to attract visitors by selling multiple-day vacation packages to travellers. Two of its staff members, Tara Lucarelli and Lindsey Ackland, recently underwent a training regimen and are now licenced under the Travel Industry Council of Ontario. The agency is responsible for the administration and enforcement of travel-related regulations on behalf of the Ontario government. Over the past several years, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, has been increasing its vacation package sales. With two staff members having underwent in-depth sales and customer service training, this positive trend is slated to continue.
  • Calling all Northern Ontario manufacturers and related sectors: The SSMEDC and Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC) are reaching out to all regional industry leaders and stakeholders to let them know an important initiative that is about to launch. Through funding support from FedNor, EMC is deploying a new Lean Management System Initiative, designed to teach new management skills and productivity systems, supported by a Productivity Cluster, at significantly reduced cost for local manufacturers. To highlight the program, the SSMEDC and EMC are hosting a seminar on Tuesday, February 24 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. To learn more, or to RSVP, visit http://www.sault-canada.com/en/NewsModule/index.aspx?corpId=bcTKpWSE7Op9PiMXuaTQLQeQuAleQuAl&newsId=uKH5lA5H5v7PlUsy8khIE9UkKeSigeQuAleQuAl.

February 13, 2015

  • This weekend, the Essar Centre is home to the 2015 Ontario Regional Synchronized Skating Championship. The event involves over 500 participating athletes and 100 officials. Since many skaters will be bringing at least one parent with them, the event is expected to draw more than 1,000 visitors and inject well over $500,000 of direct spending into the local economy. That's precisely why Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, assisted Skate Canada Northern Ontario in bidding on and securing the championship. Synchronized skating involves teams of up to 20 skaters who perform as a harmonized unit at high rates of speed. The 2015 Provincial Championship is part of this year Bon Soo winter carnival.
  • Yesterday, members of the SSMEDC team took part in an immigration forum hosted by the City's Local Immigration Partnership. The Corporation's staff were on-hand to promote its programs and services, particularly to newcomers, as part of its outreach activities. The SSMEDC is represented on the LIP's Board of Directors. The Corporation is partners with the LIP, along with many other organizations in the community. In this case, the goal is to assist immigrants and newcomers who may want to start or expand a business.
  • Soo Dan Hap Ki Do is hosting the Winter Break Martial Arts Tournament this Saturday at 11 a.m. in the gym at White Pines high school. The event is attracting dozens of martial arts experts and fans from across Ontario and Michigan. The tournament is being made possible thanks to a past investment from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. A few years back, the SSMEDC division purchased martial arts mats that allowed the community to host the 2011 International Hap Ki Do Canadian Open, which drew hundreds of visitors to the city from around the world. The equipment has since been used several times to host other martial arts events. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie's investment is paying off again this year with the Winter Break Martial Arts Tournament.
  • Not to brag, but as some of the above-mentioned points illustrate, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is a respected leader in the sector. The division of the SSMEDC undertakes marketing activities, engages in infrastructure development projects, attracts and supports major events, and sells vacation packages directly to consumers all over the world. With its successes and proven model, Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, took part in an expert panel discussion on Wednesday at the 58th annual Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) conference. This discussion saw several tourism development representatives from across the province provide case studies on successful industry practices.

February 6, 2015

  • A new crop of young entrepreneurs enrolled in Starter Company this week. The SSMEDC-administered program provides training, mentoring and potential access to funding for individuals between the ages of 18 and 29, who are not returning to school, to start or grow a business. Five local youth are taking part in the current session. Last year, 10 young entrepreneurs from the Sault area enrolled in Starter Company, with several receiving operating investments to help them grow. Unveiled in 2014, the program, which is separate from the SSMEDC-administered Summer Company program (for students), is funded by the Province of Ontario.
  • Members of the ACR Passenger Service Working Group entered into formal discussions with Transport Canada this week. During a teleconference organized by MP Bryan Hayes, senior ministry officials requested information from the Working Group to enable the Federal Government to do its due diligence on the stakeholder proposal for the continued operation of the passenger rail service. Chaired by City CAO Joe Fratesi, the Working Group, which includes representatives from the SSMEDC, is encouraged by this progress. On December 19, the Working Group sent a funding proposal to Transport Canada for the continued operation of the line. The request, which would cost the government considerably less than its financial support of the service in recent years, included information from a third-party rail company that's expected to take over the operation later this year.
  • The SSMEDC's Small Business Incubator three-year pilot project is one step closer to opening. Following a request for proposal (RFP) process, a downtown area was selected, which will be formally announced in the near future. Today, the SSMEDC issued another RFP for the provision of layout design and furnishing. The deadline to submit proposals is February 20.. Funded by the City and senior levels of government, the Small Business Incubator, when operational later this year, will provide space for entrepreneurs to operate their budding companies, along with direct support services like coaching, mentoring and marketing assistance. The goal is to assist owners in maximizing their businesses potential and develop a sustainable, long-term operation within the community.
  • Tonight marks the opening ceremony for Bon Soo, Ontario's largest winter carnival. The 10-day event celebrates everything Sault Ste. Marie and offers a ton of fun events for the whole family. The festival also attracts a number of visitors to the community. As such, Bon Soo is a longtime partner on Tourism Sault Ste. Marie's Festivals & Events Network. Among its many activities in drawing visitors, the SSMEDC division markets the area's festivals and events to strategic locations around the world. With its considerable drawing power, Bon Soo is a main marketing point for Tourism Sault Ste. Marie year-after-year.