Weekly Activity Reports - February 2017

February 24, 2017

  • Here they grow again. SSMEDC client JD Aero is in a hiring blitz. The firm, which provides aircraft maintenance and repair services, is seeking to fill various positions, including Aircraft Groomer, Stores Clerk and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. To view the postings, visit www.sootoday.com/careers/multiple-positions-541617. Operating at the Sault Airport, JD Aero recently expanded its services and customer base, an initiative made possible with investments of $1.8 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and $250,000 from the City's Economic Development Fund. The SSMEDC worked with the Airport Development Corporation to secure these investments, which were used to complete a $5.8-million expansion to the hangar facilities used by JD Aero. This initiative will continue to create additional jobs in the community.
  • Last week, Sault Ste. Marie and the Community First Curling Centre were home to the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association 2017 Curling Championships. The event saw 22 teams from across the province compete in the men's, women's and mixed categories. In total, the four-day bonspiel drew more than 100 visiting players, coaches, parents and fans to the community. The 2017 Ontario Colleges Athletics Association Curling Championships was secured and hosted by Sault College. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, which works to attract and support conferences and sport tournaments, assisted event organizers during the planning stages of the bonspiel.
  • On Saturday, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce hosted its 2017 Outstanding Business Awards. The SSMEDC is an annual sponsor of the Business of the Year Award (micro enterprise). Dan Hollingsworth, Executive Director of Business Development, was on hand to present the 2017 award to Jeronemo Solutions, a marketing firm operating out of the SSMEDC's Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship. Other SSMEDC clients and team members were also recognized. Former Summer Company and Starter Company client Paul Caputo, owner of PAC Construction Group, took home the STRIVE Young Professional Award. SSMEDC Board member Frank O'Connor, who owns Voyageurs' Lodge and Cookhouse, won Customer Service Award (business or agency). And SSMEDC Liaison Committee member Dr. Ron Common, President of Sault College, took home the Paul Dalseg Community Achievement Award.
  • The SSMEDC is helping local firms increase their export level in the mining sector. Last week, workshops were held in Sudbury as part of the Strategic Export Marketing Program. The SSMEDC attended the forum with Norpro Security & Investigations, Soo Foundry & Machine, and Rector Machine Works. The session featured industry experts providing mentoring and training on how to increase export opportunities. The program is facilitated by Ontario's North Economic Development Corporation, which represents the region's five major cities, along with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. "Encouraging exports is extremely important in regards to increasing revenues from outside the region, which in turn enhances the economy and provides stability to the respective organizations through diversification," said the SSMEDC's John Febbraro, who attended and supported local businesses at the event.

February 17, 2017

  • A large component of SSMEDC activity involves helping local businesses grow and remain competitive. On this front, the Corporation helped facilitate a training session this week. The form, titled "Productivity/Lean Management and Productivity Cluster" took place Tuesday at the Civic Centre. Several dozen representatives from local companies attended the session. During the event, attendees heard and learned from leading experts in industry productivity and management. The form was hosted by Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC), a not-for-profit organization that helps Canadian manufactures compete globally by sharing ideas and best practices. EMC is a longtime partner with the SSMEDC. Over the past several years, the two agencies have facilitated a number of training sessions aimed at supporting local companies.
  • Last Sunday, the closing ceremonies of Bon Soo took place. The annual event is the second largest winter carnival in Canada. Every year, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie helps promote the 10-day celebration, which tends to attract visitors to the community and ex-patriots back home. The 2017 edition of Bon Soo saw a brand new event take place. The Highland Ford Can/Am Cup, administered by the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association, was held at The Yard next to the Machine Shop. The inaugural race was a signature showcase of this year's Bon Soo. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie worked with its industry partners to secure the event for the community. It's hoped that the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association will hold additional snowmobile races here in future years.
  • With the new year underway, the SSMEDC is compiling its statistics and results for 2016. On the information technology front, its Corporate Services division handled more than 1,100 employee requests for IT assistance, including issues related to computers and cellphones. Staff also maintained the SSMEDC website, www.saultcanada.com, which attracted 27,448 total visitors - making up 314,000 valid hits - a 6.2% increase over 2015. As well, Corporate Services created two stand-alone websites to support SSMEDC and partner projects, including one website built for the 2016 EDCO Spring Symposium held in Sault Ste. Marie last May. Staff also assisted in the development of the Invest Sault Ste. Marie website and worked with the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce to produce the 2016 Business Directory.
  • At its core, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie works to attract visitors to the city. To achieve this goal, a number of methods are used, such as marketing and promoting the area's attractions and festivals. To assist in these efforts, the organization publishes an annual Visitor's Guide. The 2017 edition was just unveiled and is available online at www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/Tourism-SSM/tssm-visitors-guide-2017/2017021701/#0. 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 designed the 2017 Visitor's Guide in-house and will soon be distributing it to strategic locations, mostly across Ontario and Michigan. The document includes advertisements from accommodation partners and other private operators, which helps cover the printing costs.

February 10, 2017

  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and its partners are bringing a new event to the community. On March 9, the city will host the Northern Ontario Forums for Food, Farms and Tourism. The conference goals are to increase culinary tourism opportunities and build industry partnerships. Expected to attract dozens of visitors from across the region and province, the event is taking place at Quattro Hotel & Conference Centre. The Northern Ontario Forums for Food, Farms and Tourism is being facilitated and supported by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, Buy Algoma Buy Fresh, Rural Agri-Innovation Network, Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association, Growing Forward 2, Agri-food Management Institute, Province of Ontario, and Government of Canada. For registration and other information, please visit www.universe.com/ssmalgoma.
  • This week, Statistics Canada began releasing census data starting with population and dwelling counts. According to the results, the Sault's population fell by 2.4% from 75,141 to 73,368 over the past five years. The SSMEDC will be providing its analysis and commentary throughout the year as figures are released. The organization will also be recalibrating, revising and incorporating this latest information into its databases and communications materials. As well, its staff will be engaging with community partners in economic development and employment to analyze the data. "This type of information is critical for economic development, municipal, regional and land planning, along with other public and private planning purposes," said SSMEDC CEO Tom Dodds. "Our objective in assessing this information is to integrate it into our strategic priorities and help chart the course of economic development and growth in Sault Ste. Marie."
  • The SSMEDC's 2016 corporate communications stats are available. Last year, six newsletters were produced and sent digitally to 1,500 recipients, with an "open" rate of 45% and "click" rate of 19%. The SSMEDC also generated 51 press releases, four articles for external publications and 52 Weekly Activity Reports. As well, staff produced 83 stories for the SSMEDC's online news portal, which garnered 91,491 valid hits and made up nearly 30% of all traffic to the corporation's website. As well, the organization coordinated five press conferences, issued 10 media advisories, and assisted in the production of four video segments for Shaw TV and other news outlets. Also, with frequent activity and well over 1,000 tweets throughout the year, the @SaultEDC Twitter page grew from 1,400 to over 2,000 followers in 2016. As well, a Corporate Facebook page was unveiled in September and grew to more than 250 likes by year-end.
  • What kind of a reach does the SSMEDC have? The following is telling: for the Chamber's 2017 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, 19 current and former staffers, Board members and clients are nominated for various awards. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is up for a Marketing Award. Staff members Ian McMillan and Ally Brown, along with Liaison Committee member Dr. Ron Common and former Board members James Caicco and Jason Collins, are all up for various awards. So too are past and present clients Arauco North America, JD Aero, Jeronamo Solutions, PAC Construction Group, Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Rector Machine Works, Brad Gregorini from NorPro Security, Soo Foundry & Machine, Mill Market, Airport Development Corporation, and Kelly Burton from Café Natura. Meanwhile, SSMEDC Board Secretary Donna Hilsinger is the volunteer Executive Director of Algoma Arts Festival, which is nominated for a Marketing Award. Last but not least, Voyageurs' Lodge & Cookhouse, a firm owned by SSMEDC Board member Frank O'Connor, is up for Customer Service Award.

February 3, 2017

  • Applications are now being accepted for a young entrepreneur program administered in the region by the SSMEDC. Summer Company provides grants and mentoring to assist high school and university students in starting a business during the summer months. To apply for the program, visit www.ontario.ca/page/start-summer-company-students. Space is limited and, historically, all program spots in the region are filled. Summer Company is open to youth between the ages of 15 and 29 who are returning to school in the fall. In many cases, the seasonal businesses are turned into full-time, year-round operations, some of which are still around today. Cavera Inc. and PAC Construction Group are prime examples. Summer Company is funded by the Province of Ontario. Since 2010, a total of 90 youth in the region have made their way through the program. Summer Company is run out of the SSMEDC's Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship.
  • Last week, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and Sault Police Service submitted a bid to host the 2019 Special Olympics Winter Games. If the event comes here, it will generate a significant economic impact on the local economy. As a comparison, the 2015 Games in North Bay drew around 1,000 athletes, coaches, family members and visiting police officers, which generated $1.1 million in direct visitor spending, along with millions more in indirect and induced economic activity. If the Sault Ste. Marie bid is successful, the Special Olympics Winter Games will be held here from February 7 to 10, 2019 and will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics in Ontario. The event would also run alongside the 2019 Bon Soo Winter Carnival. The Sault hosted the Special Olympics Summer Games in 2001. Special Olympics is the charity of choice for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
  • On Thursday, the SSMEDC's Dan Hollingsworth spoke at the 2nd Annual Career Networking Night of the Algoma University Business Society. The forum featured former graduates and community leaders now working in various professional roles throughout Sault Ste. Marie. Dan graduated from Algoma U with a Degree in Economics many moons ago and later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Lake Superior State University. He went on to become a Regional Manager with NORCAM Currency Exchange Ltd., President of RAPIDS Community Investment Inc., and he held several roles with Industry Canada - FedNor. In November 2013, Dan joined the SSMEDC team as Executive Director of Business Development. He continues the tradition of a long list of Algoma University graduates that have worked for the SSMEDC over the past 30 years.
  • This week, Joe Roberts made a stop in Sault Ste. Marie as part of his Push For Change fundraising tour. The former homeless youth, who has since turned his life around and is now a successful businessman, is pushing a shopping cart across Canada to raise money and awareness for youth homelessness. SSMEDC staff took part in the fundraising campaign, raising a total of $313 over the past two weeks. As well, on Wednesday, when Mr. Roberts reached the Sault, the SSMEDC was represented in the community gathering on Gore Street. Megan Parlowe, Events Coordinator for Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, took part in a fun shopping cart course challenge. She happened to race SSMEDC Board member Donna Hilsinger, who's also Chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services Board. Money raised from the local portion of the campaign will support Pauline's Place, a 19-bed shelter on Queen Street East. Online: www.thepushforchange.com.