Weekly Activity Reports - February 2016

February 26, 2016

  • The SSMEDC is currently engaging in a nine-week business training period with Ontario Works clients. This initiative is the result of a partnership between the Centre for Social Justice & Good Works, District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board, and SSMEDC. The program is designed to mentor Ontario Works recipients and teach them about entrepreneurship. The ultimate goal is to generate businesses startups, create jobs and help get people off social assistance programs. Under the initiative, SSMEDC staff provides enterprise training to participants on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. There are currently seven Ontario Works clients taking part in the training sessions. All of them have business ideas and are working with the SSMEDC to develop their business plans.
  • Next week, the city will be hosting the Ontario Federation of Secondary School Athletics Men's "A" Basketball Championships. The three-day tournament is expected to attract 450 players, coaches and fans from across the province. In total, the event will inject more than $200,000 of direct visitor spending into the local economy. The 2016 OFSSA Men's "A" Basketball Championships was secured by a local committee, with assistance from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. The organization works with community partners to attract major conferences and sports tournaments. Between 2008 and 2015, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie helped secure 417 events, which drew more than 70,000 visitors and injected over $36.5 million of direct visitor spending into the local economy, along with tens of millions of more dollars in indirect and induced economic activity.
  • The SSMEDC's Twitter page recently reached another milestone, having garnered its 1,500th follower. The increase in traffic to the @SaultEDC site can be attributed to frequent updates and regular two-way interactions with fellow Twitter users. Social media is one of many corporate communications methods used by the SSMEDC. Others include Shaw TV and additional video opportunities, a bimonthly newsletter, weekly activity reports, routine media releases and news stories, annual reports, press conferences, public information sessions, and special projects. The goal of SSMEDC corporate communications activity is to keep partners and the public informed of the organization's activity and results generated while also promoting its programs and services.
  • The SSMEDC is compiling a report on its 2015 activity and results. One sections deals with client testimonials. The following is a sample. Patrick Praysner from Envirotek, which moved forward with a major growth initiative, said: "The level of support we received from the SSMEDC was phenomenal. They were instrumental in helping us secure financing for this project, and we couldn't have done it without them." Nello Iannelli, from Guy's Collision Centre, which moved into a new facility and undertook a $3.4-million expansion, said: "We have expertise in repairing vehicles and running our business, but we don't necessarily have the know-how required to work our way through the funding application process. That's why we used the services of the SSMEDC. We thank the SSMEDC for their assistance in helping with our expansion."

February 19, 2016

  • It's always nice when an investment continues to pay dividends. For example, this weekend, Cornacchio's Martial Arts Centre is hosting the Winter Break Martial Arts Tournament at Superior Heights. The event is drawing dozens of competitors from South Korea, Iran, the U.S. and Canada. Ultimately, it will inject a considerable amount of visitor spending into the local economy. The tournament is being made possible with a past investment from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. A few years back, the organization purchased martial arts mats that allowed the city to host the 2011 International Hap Ki Do Canadian Open, which drew hundreds of visitors from around the world. The equipment has since been used several times to host other competitions. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie's investment is paying off again this week with another martial arts tourney.
  • This week, the SSMEDC helped facilitate a small business training seminar in Elliot Lake. The objective of this type of outreach activity is to educate and support current and aspiring business owners and get people thinking of the many small business opportunities available to them. Ultimately, the goal is to help generate business startups and expansion while creating and retaining jobs in the region. The SSMEDC receives operating investments from the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to deliver its small business support programs throughout Sault Ste. Marie, the Algoma District and Chapleau. In 2015, the Corporation conducted a total of 40 training seminars and workshops on a variety of enterprise topics, including Business Planning and Market Research. This activity represents hundreds of hours of staff time.
  • The efforts of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie to develop visitor offerings around the Group of Seven artists is gaining momentum. Last week, the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation hosted a Provincial Opportunity's Symposium. The information and networking event attracted around 50 participants from a variety of organizations, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario and various private sector businesses. Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, gave a keynote speech at the forum. His presentation focused on the success that the community has had in developing a Group of Seven tour Itinerary, which attracted a number of motor coach companies in 2015. By attending this symposium, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie also generated opportunities to further promote its Group of Seven products across Ontario.
  • The SSMEDC hired a Manager of Trade, Investment & Community Marketing. Nevin Buconjic began in the position this week. The role is responsible for developing and implementing international investment attraction programs, marketing strategies, and programs to attract and grow investment. The SSMEDC has always worked to attract external business and investment to the community, with much success. The hiring of Nevin allows the organization to dedicate additional time and resources to these efforts. His position enables the SSMEDC to implement its Invest Sault Ste. Marie initiative. The three-year investment attraction program is being made possible with funding from senior levels of government. The goal of the initiative is to generate more business startups and create additional job opportunities.

February 12, 2016

  • The SSMEDC recently completed compiling some of its 2015 stats. Throughout the year, the Corporation delivered more than 400 formal consultations to new and existing clients. Averaging one hour each, and with considerable prep time required for things like reviewing business plans, this activity represents well over 1,000 hours or 150 days of total staff time. Along with consultations, the SSMEDC handled more than 1,500 phone, email and walk-in inquiries from current and aspiring entrepreneurs seeking assistance. The Corporation also conducted 40 seminars and workshops on a variety of enterprise topics. It's important to note that, along with direct client services like this, the SSMEDC also engages in a variety of projects and initiatives. All of its 2015 business activity, including startups and job creation, will be made available in the coming weeks.
  • This weekend, Algoma University is hosting the 2016 Ontario University Athletics Wrestling Championship at the newly-renovated George Leach Centre. The event will feature top talent from across the province and inject a significant amount of visitor spending into the local economy. To help secure the tournament, Algoma University partnered with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. In the past, the two organizations have worked together to bid on or host several major events, including the 2011 Ontario College Athletics Association Basketball Championship and the 2013 Ontario Basketball Association Provincial Championship. Meanwhile, in 2015, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie worked with its industry partners to secure or host 25 conventions and sports tourneys, which generated 14,362 visitor days and $2.9 million in direct visitor spending.
  • The SSMEDC sent a letter this week to the Prime Minister advocating for policy changes to enable Canada's steel industry to be sustainable and globally competitive. The memo supports the recent recommendations of Canadian steelmakers and highlights three areas that the Federal Government should consider to help the industry rebound: implement a pro-manufacturing agenda, utilize public procurement policies to maximize benefits to Canadians, and modify Canada's trade remedy process. Says SSMEDC President Don Mitchell, who penned the letter: "We're at a critical stage right now. The coming months will determine the future of the Canadian steel industry. At this time, senior levels of government need to ask themselves: Do they want Canada to continue to have - and benefit from - a sustainable and globally competitive steel industry?"
  • At its core, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie works to attract visitors to the community. Under this goal, marketing and promoting the area's attractions and festivals is a key activity. To aid in its efforts, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie publishes an annual Visitor's Guide. The 2016 edition was unveiled last week. The document, available in both hard copy and digital form, is one of the community's signature tourism marketing pieces. It contains information on attractions, festivals and events, accommodations and other visitor-related topics. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie facilitates the publication of the annual Visitor's Guide and distributes it to strategic locations, mostly across Ontario and Michigan. The document includes advertisements from accommodation partners and other private operators, which helps cover the cost of producing and printing.

February 5, 2016

  • Well over 500 nursing students from across the country gathered in Sault Ste. Marie last week. From January 27 to 30, the community hosted the Canadian Nursing Students' Association 2016 National Conference. The event injected roughly $500,000 of direct visitor spending into the local economy. The conference was secured by Sault College nursing students, who developed a comprehensive bid package in conjunction with the Tourism Sault Ste. Marie team. As one of its core activities, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie works with partners to attract and support major conferences and sports tournaments that draw visitors to the community. Between 2008 and 2015, the division helped attract 417 of these events, which drew more than 70,000 visitors, $36.6 million in direct visitor spending, and million more in indirect and induced economic activity.
  • Applications are now being accepted for 2016 Summer Company. Funded by the Province of Ontario, the young entrepreneur program is administered in the region by the SSMEDC. Summer Company provides grants and mentoring to help students operate a business during the summer months. To apply, visit www.ontario.ca/page/start-summer-company-students. At the start of the program, participants receive training and a $1,500 grant to help get their business off the ground. They are also provided with ongoing mentorship. As long as participants follow through with training and reporting requirements, they are given an additional $1,500 at the end of the season. Since 2010, the SSMEDC has mentored 72 youth under the program, many of whom turned their seasonal businesses into full-time, year-round operations that are still running today.
  • In its efforts to market area attractions and festivals, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie works with travel writers. As one example, staff from the division met Post Media reporter Patrick Brennan at the 2015 Travel Media Association of Canada Marketplace. Based on the meeting, the writer decided to develop a feature on the Bon Soo polar bear swim. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie provided him with photos, background info and general assistance. The end result is a January 29 article in the Travel section of the National Post: http://news.nationalpost.com/life/travel/take-the-plunge-at-sault-ste-maries-bon-soo-annual-winter-carnival-features-polar-bear-swim-in-frigid-river. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie also hosts familiarization tours for visiting travel writers and television shows. In 2015, 10 tours took place, which generated nearly $500,000 in unpaid tourism marketing.
  • Historically, the SSMEDC has worked to stay ahead of the curve. For instance, in 1994, the Corporation developed an online presence and eventually established one of the first economic development websites in the country. Today, www.sault-canada.com is maintained by the organization's Corporate Services division. In 2015, the website attracted 24,047 visitors, which was a 13% increase over 2014 and 40% increase over 2013. Corporate Services also creates stand-alone website in support of specific initiatives. For example, a site was created last year to promote and assist the Sault's bid to host the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier. Another website was created for the SSMEDC's Millworks Small Business Incubator project. In 2014, Corporate Services also developed a website in support of the community's efforts to retain the ACR passenger rail service.